Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”C.S. Lewis, Letters to Children
C.S. Lewis offers some tremendous writing tips in a letter he wrote to a child. This particular tip encourages the writer to concretize.
concretize verb: to make (an idea or concept) real; give specific or definite form to
Ideas are abstract. Words like love, grace, and mortality are useful because they can carry whole libraries of information. The downside is that they can be hard to understand because they’re not very specific.
So good writers and speakers are very careful to illustrate big ideas with specific concrete examples. So, instead of the abstract “love” by itself, we add, “Like Romeo, he loved her more than life.”
This is tremendously difficult. It’s far easier to write vague generalities than to get specific.
In preaching class, my professor helped us by asking us to imagine a funnel. The abstract is at the top. Wide open. Generalized. He said, “You must move down the funnel. Get more and more specific. Concretize.”
Have a good day. Er, I mean, I hope today day brings you as much delight as my five year old’s face when he gets Reddi-wip on his cocoa.