I'm the coach for our UIL Ready Writing team. I get to work with some very talented students and prepare them for area writing competitions. Last Saturday, our team did very well. We were the only school to have all four students make it to the second round. All of my students finished in the top third of the 43 submissions -- one student got third place. We're in position to have a great year. I meet with them in the library on Fridays. We might start reading A Writer's Coach. If anyone else wants to grab the book, you're more than welcome to read along with us. The Ready Writing coaches also act as the judges in area competitions. (For district and beyond, they hire outside judges.) As a result, I read a lot of student essays. It's painful to read essays that are trying so hard to impress. The writers become needlessly wordy. I get tired of such overused phrases: "today's society," "everyday life," and "throughout history." Students love these phrases and will not miss a opportunity to write about today's society or everyday life or ponder something that happened throughout history.

This past Saturday, I found a sentence that should win a cash prize for awkward construction: "The idea was thought to be of stupidity." If this were my student, I would say to her: "Just say it was stupid." This concept is thought to be of simplicity.