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Advanced Composition
The Specific is Terrific

April 30, 2003

Writing improves when you become more specific. Specific writing often appeals to our senses: hearing, tasting, seeing, touching. More specific terms help readers understand your writing better.

Examples of General versus Specific:

General: I lived in a small town near the United States.
More specific: I lived for five years in Morden, Manitoba, a town of 2 000 people located about 25 miles from the United States border.

General: He stood too close to me.
More specific: He stood about half a meter away, so close I could smell his garlic breath.

General: The flowers are beautiful in the spring.
More specific: The cherry and plum blossoms are beautiful clouds of white and pink, filling the air with their sweet scents.

General: My neighbour has a noisy stereo.
More specific: My neighbour has an eighteen inch subwoofer that makes the dishes rattle in my cupboards.


Write a 125 word paragraph about springtime, being as specific as possible.

Include a sound, a sight, and a smell. If you can, also include a taste and a touch. If you wish, write about springtime in your home country.


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