Writing experts always tell us, “Be specific!”

But what does that mean?

How do we do that?

Other gurus say, “use concrete details.” Huh?

What the heck are those?

After many years of ignoring this advice, I think I get it.

Instead of saying, “We did a lot of fun things at summer camp,” say, “We raided the girls’ cabin, pulled frogs out of the lake and filled the salt shakers with sugar.”

After you knock out a rough draft for one of your essays, re-read it and look for lines that are bland summaries, and “be specific.” Give details.

Use nouns. Avoid too many adjectives. (More on that later…)

Another way to be specific is to give examples.

If you say you are creative, give an example of a time you were creative. Don’t just say you were creative, but include details about how you were creative.

Example: When I made a self-portrait of myself in art class, I used paper mache and stuck in objects, like shells, sea glass and plant pods, to show my eyes and other features.”

Famous writing coach Roy Peter Clark always says, “Name the dog!” He means in writing, don’t just say “The dog ran across the street.” Instead, say, “The three-legged Bulldog named Rex crossed the street.” See the difference?