Writing advice

Possibly the most useful piece of writing advice I have ever received, came from my year 2 teacher. She was a passionate and dedicated teacher who inspired and challenged her students to write more often, and to write better. Despite the fact that I was only seven years old at the time, she taught us about similes and metaphors. She made us think about different adjectives to use and what descriptors we could put after dialogue quotations.

My teacher even recruited some mothers who had access to computers, to type our hand written stories, adding Word Clip Art at the appropriate places, so that we could have printed and stapled versions of our work. I still have some of my first printed stories.

However, the one lesson that she taught us which really stayed with me was this; there is always a better word to use, than got.

She was right. To this day I can’t stand using it. There is always a better word, or string of words, for every possible use of the word got. Despite the fact that I rarely edit during a first draft, if I start to type that word, I will pause, my fingers hovering over the keyboard, until I find a better option.

I was lucky that I got to had the opportunity to learn from her. My year 2 teacher instilled a love of writing in me which lay dormant until I was ready to embrace it. But the skills remained. I have a deep understanding of the power of metaphors and similes. I understand that ‘said’ is not the only descriptor available after dialogue, and I cannot use the word got without hearing her voice.

I am grateful she was my teacher, and I hope there are more teachers out there who are just as passionate as she was when she taught me.

Penshurst Public School

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. MST says:

    It wasn’t just you Jenni! When I was in primary school (around 1980, in Melbourne) my teacher had us each write GOT on a piece of paper. We coloured it in and spent some time over it. Then she put our GOTs in a box, took them outside and set them on fire! Like you, I’ve never since felt comfortable about using ‘got’ in a sentence. I’ve heard similar stories from other Australian writers – it must have been part of a wider curriculum initiative, or similar. Thanks for reminding me!

    1. jennicurry says:

      That’s amazing! I can’t remember the exact techniques my teacher used but am sure I would have remembered it if she had. Perhaps you are right in that it was part of the curriculum.

  2. kate says:

    I’m sure Mrs Clarke would be proud of you Jenni

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