Matthew J.X. Malady has written a terrific essay about word choice for Slate. It’s a great exploration of how our vocabulary defines us. It’s a thoughtful and complicated text that would be a great close read for a senior class… or could be cut down for a junior class. You might consider using it as a prompt prior to a novel discussion group meeting. Senior students could read the article and then apply the thinking to the choices the author of their book made in creating the text’s characters. Junior students could read an edited version of the article and identify the “fingerprint words” of some of the main characters in the text.
In a Writer’s Craft class, I think this article could be a great launching pad for some narrative writing.
Fingerprint Words from Slate.com
P.S. – Isn’t J.X. Malady a great name for a fictional villain? Students could create a list of great character names and the “fingerprint words” that would define them.