Today’s lesson on writing in 10th grade ELA was on eliminating unnecessary words and phrases. My favorite high school teacher called it “eliminating the deadwood,” and in today’s class, my standard, “Don’t waste your reader’s attention span on words they don’t need to read” was not explanation enough for one of my students.
At issue was my admonition: Don’t say “I think.” Don’t say “I believe.” Say what you want to say like it is fact, and people will take your argument more seriously. Z. kept insisting that there had to be more to it, a better reason. And I couldn’t think of another reason or another way to explain it. Then M. piped up.
“Do you ever make Kool-Aid?”
That got my attention. “Yes ma’am. What does this have to do with writing a paragraph?”
“Well, it’s like when you’re making Kool-Aid, if you put too much water in it, it loses its flavor. You don’t want your paragraph to lose its flavor by cramming it with too many extra words.”
Best metaphor on revising ever. Good thinking, M.
Extra credit for you!