Say Something Distinct and Tangible.
These are startling words from William B. Strunk, Jr. (who wasn’t prone to exaggerate!):
“Prefer the specific to the general, the definite to the vague, the concrete to the abstract... If those who have studied the art of writing are in accord on any one point, it is on this: the surest way to arouse and hold the attention of the reader is to be specific, definite, and concrete (Elements of Style, 21).”
I was very happy for a long time. (vague, not specific, not tangible).
I smiled for 3 days. (specific, definite, tangible).
We can be more distinct and tangible by considering: who, when, where, why, how, and what.
a man I know from work (vague)
the tall, friendly guy from accounting (concrete)
a long time (vague)
2 weeks (definite)
my place of residence (vague)
my cozy apartment downtown (definite and concrete)
... because he was sad (vague)
... because he despaired of ever playing again (concrete)
5. HOW (with what?)
He felled the giant with a device used in war (vague)
He felled the giant with a sling shot, and 3 smooth stones (specific and concrete)
6. HOW (in what manner?)
He approached the giant slowly (vague).
He approached the giant gradually, measuring every step (concrete)
7. WHAT (happened)?
He got up, and ran. (vague)
He leapt to his feet, and started into a full sprint. (concrete)