Concrete Nouns

name these items

Write a story about this picture using nouns that offer a vision in the reader’s head. 100 words with no adverbs. Send it in if you wish.

What do you see in your head with: “animals roaming the desert entered the fence around a large ranch.”

What do you see in your head with the following:

“A pack of five dingoes found the hole in the barbed wire fence that ran the perimeter of Thousand Mile Sheep Station.”

The latter example offers a visual with movement and implication for action.   It implies that the dingoes were cunning and determined enough to find “the” hole.   This is an example of  “what if?” What if the dingoes found the kitchen windows open? What if the dingoes mangled the sheep?  What if the teenage son heard a noise in the night and went outside to investigate? etc.

The words you choose, the meaning of those words, offer a movie in the readers’ heads.  Vague words and flowery language offer little or nothing.  Your words carry weight.  Make them support your story and paint a picture in the reader’s head.

“The business of the poet and novelist is to show the sorriness underlying the grandest things, and the grandeur underlying the sorriest things.”  Thomas Hardy


Kaye LindenConcrete Nouns

11 Comments on “Concrete Nouns”

  1. Kaye Linden

    Thanks for commenting, Bruce. A “hold” in the fence might prove of interest as it offers up a myriad of possibilities. What if it were some kind of “hold” in the fence? A trap of some kind? A hold of unseen hands? etc. Another story question.

    You are the best teacher of all, Bruce. Thank you. Kaye

  2. Bonnie Ogle

    Animals roaming the desert entered a hole in the fence around the ranch, meandering, sniffing, marking, coming closer to the source of the scent, and cry of the baby, whose night light illuminated the curtains, undulating in the night breeze.

  3. Bonnie Ogle

    Is the picture intentionally small? Is there a way to enlarge it? I know, I know: With concrete nouns! B.

  4. Kaye Linden

    Yes, Bonnie. Nice story opening. Now write the rest of the story. The one word I would change is “animals” as it does not offer a specific visual. Give the reader a specific animal – dingo, wolf, jackals etc. It does not have to be Australian. Let’s see the rest of your story. Nice work. Kaye

  5. Bonnie Ogle

    Bonnie Ogle, 100 words, no adverbs or adjectives
    Carrying the package onto the plane, the wrapping crinkling as I shoved it into the bin over my seat, I stole a slice of the land and it hangs in my den now. I have my pieces of wood, boomerangs scattered among animals, all painted by artists who don’t know they’re artists, Aborigines sharing their dreams, ink spotting sand, evoking outback, or legends too sacred for words, lying flat, in two dimensions on a square of cardboard mounted on my wall, like a fish caught in the river of my youth, a trophy, but dead now. A dimension lost.

  6. ellen herbert

    Hi Kaye,
    Love that quote from Hardy. Goes along with one of my favorite soul song lines: tell it like it is. That word “is” is the sticking point. That’s what makes creative writing individual.

  7. Kaye Linden

    Yes, Ellen. How would that quote change if the word “is” was replaced by “must”?
    Do you think that statement then underlines the compulsion of the writer to speak the truth? k.

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