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Improving writing through specific, concrete details: avoiding general statements

On my last paper, my instructor crossed out my entire first sentence and nearly half of the words in my introduction. What am I doing wrong?

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<b>Concrete, Specific Writing</b>

One way to improve the tone, or academic level, of a piece of writing is to move from broad, general statements to becoming more specific.

Many of us remember writing assignments where our teachers encouraged us to "show," rather than "tell," and appeal to the five senses as we described a scene or an object. Instead of writing "I was nervous," for example, we may have decided to say, "My palms moistened and I felt my mouth turn dry," or some other concrete, dramatic image that could make this moment come to life for our audience. There are ways to transfer this idea of "showing versus telling" from our creative writing to our academic or professional style.

<b>Satisfy the Questions of Who, What, Where, When, Why and How</b>

Some students might begin a writing assignment with an opening sentence such as:

<b>I think this particular speech began with a biased statement.</b>

This sentence might be ...