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Monday, December 14, 2009

Write with Primary Terms

Michael Clay Thompson is the author of a fabulous but unconventional Language Arts program. He made a few interesting points in this video on vocabulary and writing.

I have always taught my boys to add adjectives and adverbs to their sentences when writing. So what Thompson had to say about these was quite a revelation to me... Well, can you tell I am not a language expert at all?!

Here are some of his points I have extracted from this particular video.

1. Plan A to writing and editing is to choose precise NOUNS and VERBS.
Don't try to rescue weak nouns and verbs with adjectives and adverbs.
If you aren't happy with your nouns, change your nouns. Not add an adjective.

If you see an adjective, kill it.
- Mark Twain

The adverb is not your friend.
- Stephen King

2. Wordiness is usually a modifier problem.
Modifiers add syllable counts and noise to a sentence; diluting interest level.

This kind of succinct writing reminds me of that advocated by William Strunk in The Elements of Style.


  1. Hi Sarah
    Merry christmas and a happy new year to you. I just checked out Michael Clay and was quite impressed with his books. Are you using any of them? If so what and where did you get them? Thanks

  2. I saw the sample pages and were impressed too. I have not used his books because I haven't found a cheap way to get them. The only way I know is to get them directly from the publisher.

  3. Hi Sarah
    Let me know if you find a cheaper way to get them. We can either bundle our purchase together or share shipping etc.

  4. I loved this video...

    amy in peru


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