Concrete vs. Conceptual

All right everyone, put on your thinking caps.   I’m considering the ways we prefer to be inspired.

At a WOTS steering committee meeting last night we were debating the theme for our next year’s writing contest.  Entrants are given a word or phrase which they must use to form their work of fiction, poetry or non-fiction.

Last night we narrowed our choices down to two words, which for now shall be locked away in my secret vault. 

There was quite a distinction between the final choices.  One was a concrete word (think memory, door, flight) the other was a concept (think beauty, perseverance, beyond). 

We realized, after a surprising amount of time spent debating, that a concrete word gave the writer something tangible to start working with, while the concept provided a broader range of possibilities. 

I knew without asking myself that I’d rather have a concrete detail around which to wrap my story.  Another committee member said that the conceptual word was more flexible and inspiring and gave him more to work with.

For the sake of the exercise, if I said you could write about Endure or Rain what would you choose?  What are details that most inspire you?  Is the past or a the future more magnetic to your pen?


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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. For me its the past for sure.

  2. Wonderful post! (Found you via @writerscontests Twitter.)

    I would definitely choose the abstract/conceptual “endure.” For me, crafting around a concrete object is much more limiting. The theme of “endure” can be applied to any sort of genre and scenario I choose. I enjoy working with theme and extrapolating characters’ journeys, so I would happily take “endure” and form it a thesis/antithesis (moral) to apply.

    1. @ Aubrey, thanks for your vote! I find it interesting to see what is compelling to different witers. Endure can definitely be more broadly applied. I see you like to cast your net wide. 🙂

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