Essay With Concrete Details Examples

Concrete Details

The opposite of concrete details is abstractions. The concrete includes references to solid objects—anything you could see or touch. The abstract deals with ideas and thoughts.

The car was perfect.  The mere thought of it sent a thrill through her body.   She had to own it.  All through class, her mind traced its image over and over.  Her nervousness wouldn't let her do anything, life was a waste until the car was hers. 
Every beautiful square inch of candy-apple red paint shone in the bright morning sun.  Erin carressed its smooth lines with her eyes from the finger print-smeared school bus window.  From the thin red racing stripes running from bumper to shining bumper, to the lightly tinted windows, to the low-profile tires, this racing machine took her breath away.  At school, she could think of nothing else--algebra, English, even parenting just floated by.  At lunch, she couldn't eat.  "Probably best," she thought, pushing the plate of mystery meat and rubbery vegetables from her.  "My life is worth nothing until I have those car keys in my hand," Erin muttered.

Most people are better at thinking concretely (after all, we are surrounded by a very concrete world. Most people are classified as visual learners) than abstractly. Concrete details are therefore easier for readers to grasp (literally). Lucky for us, any abstraction can be explained through concrete details. You may have to use a metaphor or example, but concrete details can make your ideas clearer and easier to understand.

Using concrete details also makes your paper more interesting and more memorable. Because your readers’ minds are not so tied up trying to follow your ideas, they stay awake better and have better retention. If you have a section in your paper where readers get lost or bored out of their skulls, there’s a very high chance that you haven’t used many concrete details there. Toss a few in and you may just solve your problem.


One difficulty many students have in using concrete details is that they seem to have a fear of using too many. Instead, they often end up with far too few. Here’s a little trick I learned from teaching people to water ski. When we would finally get someone up on one ski, they were often afraid to ski outside of the wake or to try to lean and cut back and forth. Without their permission, we’d crank the boat up to 50 mph. If they were really scared, they could always let go of the rope. At 50 mph, the wake is only about two feet wide. When we’d slow back down to 30 mph, everything seemed easy and safe in comparison. So go ahead, get carried away. Write too many concrete details. When you’ve finished, it should be easier.

  • Write a sentence. A descriptive one will work best for this exercise.
  • Now, without moving on to any new subjects, double the amount of writing you use to cover the description.
  • Double it again.
  • And again.
  • And again.

Here’s the kind of thing you might come up with:

  • My lawn was covered with leaves.
  • Leaves blew through my yard and piled up against the shrubs and fence.
  • A cold autumn breeze blew leaves through my yard. I stared out the window and watched them pile up against the sparse shrubs and worn out fence.
  • A cold autumn breeze blew leaves through my yard. Summer had ended and I would be the last one to leave the cabin. I sat alone, holding a mug of hot chocolate without drinking, and stared out the back window, watching the red, gold, and brown leaves pile up violently against the sparse shrubs and worn out fence. I had long since given up caring about anything.

If you have trouble coming up with more details, just close your eyes and try to envision it. If you have a hard time seeing things in your mind’s eye, map out the area on paper and write down the things you might find there. Take a few of those items and describe how they feel, look, taste, or act.

Here’s an example of an idea expressed both abstractly and concretely.


Young children are difficult to control and teach. Their minds have not yet developed the necessary skills to solve complex or even simple problems. Even so, their lives seem in no way incomplete. They live surrounded by unbounded mysteries and wonder. We could learn about life from children.


Young children often experience difficulty learning even the simplest lessons. Before a certain age, they can not grasp that a square peg will not fit into a round hole. They only know that they make noise when thrown against the wall. Even so, they live surrounded by unbounded mysteries and wonder. Their tiny hands reach out to grasp everything within reach. They don’t stop at touching, either, but most objects are immediately pulled into their mouths in an effort to experience life completely and fully—a lesson we could all learn from.

There’s nothing wrong with abstractions. Abstractions provide some of the richest knowledge and insight available and offer chances to solve difficult problems. And precisely because of their great value, they should be combined with concrete details to ensure their effective communication.


Main Index | Multi-Genre | Persuasive

The Jane Schaffer paragraph is a five-sentence paragraph developed by Jane Schaffer, used to write essays.[1] The paragraph only makes up one of many paragraphs in an essay, most of which have a non-Schaffer-like introduction and conclusion. The structure is utilized because it is thought to help students who struggle with paragraph structure and is taught in some U.S. middle schools and in early high school classes.[2][3]


General Schaffer paragraphs have some requirements as follows:

  • Must not be written in first person
  • Every paragraph must be at least five sentences long; however, there can be more as long as the same ratio of two CMs to every CD is kept [4]
  • Each section (TS, CD, CM, CS) is only one sentence in length
  • Each section should also avoid past tense and only be written in present tense

Paragraph Structure[edit]

  • Topic Sentence (TS)
  • Concrete Detail (CD)
  • Commentary (CM)
  • Commentary (CM)
  • Closing/Concluding sentence (CS)

A basic Schaffer paragraph begins with the topic sentence—stating what the paragraph is about, then followed by a concrete detail, two commentary sentences, and a closing sentence. This is called a one-chunk body paragraph and is the most basic Schaffer model.

One of the key elements in the Schaffer program is what is called the "ratio." Ratio is the amount of Concrete Detail in a paragraph compared to the amount of commentary. In the above paragraph the ratio is 1:2. The actual ratio for response to literature is 1:2+, which means there must be at least two sentences of Commentary for each sentence of Concrete Detail like so:

  • Topic sentence (TS)
  • Concrete Detail (CD)
  • Commentary (CM)
  • Commentary (CM)
  • Concrete Detail (CD)
  • Commentary (CM)
  • Commentary (CM)
  • Closing/Concluding sentence (CS)

Note that the ratio is still 1:2+ (At least twice as much Commentary as there is Concrete Detail)

Topic sentence/statement (TS)[edit]

This sentence should state the main point of the paragraph and be straight to the point

Example 1: Cinderella lives a miserable life.
Example 2: Global warming is a world problem and needs to be stopped.

Concrete detail (CD)[edit]

This sentence is the "what" is happening. It should be either facts, examples, illustrations, evidence, support, plot references, paraphrases, citations, quotations, plot summary, etc. It should be a concrete detail and should start with 'for example' or a different transition.

Example 1: For example, she does all the cooking, cleaning, and sewing.
Example 2: If it is not stopped, statistics show that the world will be drastically hurt.


There are one or two commentary sentences in each chunk. They contain no facts, rather, comments from the paragraph writer about the fact presented in the CD. This sentence contains analysis, interpretation, character feelings, opinions, inference, insight, reasons, or color commentator. It is important that the commentary explain how the concrete detail helps prove the writer's point (the TS).

Example 1:
CM1: This shows that she feels taken advantage of by her selfish stepmother and stepsisters.
CM2: This is important because her horrible life gives her a present, her fairy godmother.
Example 2:
CM1: Global warming should be man's greatest worry.
CM2: This is because the Earth can become negatively and drastically affected world wide.
CM3 Commentary sentence is an opinion and a reaction.

General practice is that commentary sentences often start with a transition such as the following:

  • This (also) shows that
  • This is (important) because
  • In addition
  • Furthermore,
  • Therefore,
  • Also
  • For example,

Concluding sentence / closing sentence (CS)[edit]

The Concluding Sentence (CS) is the closing sentence that wraps up the TS and sums up the paragraph. It closes up the thoughts and gives insight to the next paragraph. Emotional or connotative words are preferred here usually beginning with "As a result" or another concluding sentence.

Example 1: As a result, she becomes a princess.
Example 2: Therefore, global warming is top priority and cannot be ignored.


External links[edit]


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