– Longer

Scene: Writing Center. Student and tutor looking together at a paper.

Student: Why did you circle this… and this?

Jane: In a few places you use long phrases, and I’ll bet you could find a way to say it more directly.

Student: Oh, I know. But I sometimes add more words on purpose, so it will make it longer. You know, so it seems like a paper.

Jane: Academic?

Student: Yeah. Teachers seem to like that.

Jane: Hmm.

2 thoughts on “– Longer

  1. K., I don’t know if there are any teachers like that at my college (there might be…), but this anecdote reminds me of something Eli once said as he was looking at some papers written by my first-year students: “Look at all those adjectives! That’s typical MCAS writing.” I asked him to say more, and he explained that, when teachers train their students for the MCAS, they advocate “stacking three adjectives” in front of each noun. (This is according to him; I haven’t been in any MCAS prep classes.)

    I should provide a follow up to my “Longer” post. The student did take my suggestion to eliminate unnecessary wordiness, after I reminded her that she was going to develop her thin conclusion some more, thereby rendering her piece as long as she intended it to be.

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