Fingerprint Words

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

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.

Reading and Writing

A great blog posting about what an aspiring writer has learned from her reading…


“I write every day and I read every day, because Stephen King said to do so in his book On Writing. I used to not allow myself read fiction, I used to read books about writing. I thought reading a lot of fiction was a waste of time. I was wrong, very very wrong. So I’ve abandoned reading books about writing (King’s On Writing being the exception), and started reading novels exclusively. And, you know what? I’m learning more about writing by reading actual fiction! The more different books by different authors I read, the more I start seeing patterns everywhere – in story, dialogue, beginnings, endings, character development, descriptions, plot, you name it.”

Become a better writer by reading…