In recognition of Throwback Thursday, I thought I’d share one of my favorite teacing resources: The Lively Art of Writing by Lucile Vaughan Payne.
I was introduced to this book as a sophomore in Mrs. Martin’s writing class in 1984. I learned how to write a five-paragraph essay following Payne’s geometric pattern and I still teach my students the same inverted triangle-rectangle-triangle pattern:
Yesterday, I was working on a concise writing lesson plan and went to my bookshelf in search of examples and tips. The first books I grabbed? These two little yellowed-paged treasures I rescued from a discard pile years ago. Each time I open the books, I think how the ideas on the pages have helped me teach hundreds of students to avoid passive voice and to “show, don’t tell” with updated variations of the same exercises I completed thirty years ago. Each time I instruct students to “specify, specify, specify,” I swear it’s Mrs. Martin’s voice and not my own.
I didn’t add anything to my handout from the books this time, but was comforted by the fact that I had already included “The Two Commandments” as outlined in Chapter 5:
1) Do not use first person.
2) Do not use the word there–ever.
I had already encouraged specificity and cautioned against the use of abstractions, or as Payne identifies them in Chapter 11, “The Solemn Vapors.” My handout was complete, but until I had checked it against my old books, I didn’t know for sure. Although I know this advice is not unique to these texts, I find reassurance in revisiting the formative texts of my youth.
What about you? Do you have go-to resources from your own high school/college days that hold a prominent place on your bookshelf?