Chapter 20

Specificity: One of a Kind

Every year adolescents across America compete in an essay contest and the winners get to go to Washington D.C. to be honored. The subjects are things like “Democracy” and “Freedom” and some kids win and get the big trip, but these essays are almost inevitably terrible. And they’d probably be just as bad if college students wrote them. Because the subjects have two enormous pitfalls. They are general. And they are amorphous. Clouds of ideas. There is no there there. You can’t write well in general. No one can. You can only write well in specifics. The emotion and the originality and interest and excitement are all in specific details.

Bill Clinton was brilliant at this. At being specific, not general. So when ...

Get The Heart of the Film now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.