Be Definite, Specific, And Concrete! (Revisited)

imagesGYL179P1Don’t you hate it when you’re talking to somebody and they are all wishy-washy? Why can’t they just come out and say it? Most of the time you know what they are getting at and want to spit it out for them. Well, the same thing goes for writing.

The surest way to gain and hold a reader’s attention is through definite, specific, concrete writing. Don’t make me as a reader try to figure out what you are trying to say. It’s not my place to write your novel. I just want to read and enjoy it. Allow me to enter the realm of your imagination without trying to figure out every little detail myself.


The weather was dreadful. vs. It rained every day for a week.

He was happy to take possession of his well-earned reward. vs. He smiled as he placed the coin in his pocket.

I don’t think I have to point out which sentence in these examples is the more specific and concrete.

Best selling authors are effective because they deal in particulars and report details that matter in a definite, specific, concrete way.

Just something to think about.

-Jan R

Be Definite, Specific, And Concrete! (Revisited)

Write What You Mean

DanglingModifier.jpgAre you writing what you meant to write? Is your prose concise, and easy to understand? You may have one thing in mind when you write that sentence, only to discover it’s ambiguous, misleading, and sometimes quite humorous.

Dangling modifier- When a sentence  isn’t clear about what’s being modified it dangles. Keep in mind modifiers should be near what they modify. These are probably my favorite messed up sentences. While I hope I haven’t written or submitted any for publishing, I’m sure I’ve dangled a few in my time. They are confusing, but on the bright side, very funny.

The company’s refrigerator held microwavable lunches for 18 employees frozen in the top compartment.

Misplaced modifier- A phrase or clause placed awkwardly in a sentence so that it appears to modify or refer to an unintended word.

Lex called to talk about the meeting yesterday. Did Lex call yesterday or was the meeting yesterday? I’m confused.

 Ambiguous writing– It’s not spelled out. You didn’t provide enough information for your reader to understand what you’re trying to say. Ambiguous writing can leave your reader more confused than a misplaced modifier .

My older students know I say what I mean.

Are the student’s older in age or have they just been in his class a lot longer? It could mean either of the two.

Make sure you are saying what you mean. Be concise. Just something to think about.

-Jan R



Write What You Mean