Edit! Here’s my special ed take-away of Shirley McClain’s excellent post, 8 Words to Seek and Destroy in Your Writing. If you didn’t read the post, it’s still there. McClain’s suggestions include:
#1. Cautious use of “suddenly.” I do encourage the use of adverbs when kids write blah sentences. In fact, I think kids should learn the parts of speech so they can better analyze their writing. Knowing the parts of speech helps kids categorize words. For those dyslexic kids who say, “I put the thing on the thing,” having a mental folder with parts of speech can smooth fluency in speaking and writing.
#2. Avoiding list-like sentences connected by “then.” I can only imagine how kids must feel when they spend kindergarten (and sometimes first grade) learning to use “then,” only to discover it’s a four-letter word. I’m being facetious, but this is a dilemma when teaching struggling writers. They often do best with a formula to follow, but can get stuck at that level if they aren’t provided practice with other transition words. Knowing parts of speech (see #1) can help when they need to vary sentence structure.
#3. Rare use of “in order to.” This one is easy. I have yet to work with a kid who uses that phrase. I suspect it starts popping up in middle school at the earliest.
#4. Stop using “very” and “really.” Really? I use these two very often. It wouldn’t surprise me to scan all my posts for the word really…. OK. I used “really” in 71 posts. I used “very” in 242 posts! That’s very surprising to me, because I really thought it would be the other way around. I am very much mistaken. So thank you, Ms. McClain, for giving me 313 posts to edit. Not. Obviously and suddenly, I realize why all my students sprinkle their sentences with really and very. Whatever.
I’m worn out. I’ll tackle the last 4 words “to seek and destroy” tomorrow. I really hope you’ll read it!