Abstract and abstraction

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Senior Member
“A story must abstract from life to discover its essences, but not become an abstraction that loses all sense of life-as-lived.”

Excerpt From: Robert McKee. “Story.” iBooks.

I understand the meaning of first part is (abstract = extract), but don't quite get the meaning of the second part what the author means by "[Story must] not become an abstraction".

Can anyone please clarify this? Thanks.
  • The first abstract is something like 'distill'. An "abstraction" would be a concept, or something schematic. If a story simply conveyed that 'crime brings punishment,' that is abstraction. A good story that included punishment would convey 'life as lived' (Dostoevsky in Crime and Punishment).
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    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    A much different paraphrase would be to say "It must seem real" to the reader.

    It's kind of a play on the different senses of the word abstract/abstraction.

    You are taking things out of real life into fiction, but the fiction must seem real for the reader to relate to it emotionally.
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