Literary Fingerprints

Are you guys ready for another one of my reading ramblings?  I hope so, because I’ve gotta get it all out and you are my wonderful audience.  Here goes…


About a week ago I was reading a Rhys Ford book, and it got me thinking about how her writing style is so recognizable.  There’s a phrasing technique that’s specific to her as an author I feel I would recognize even if she wasn’t listed on the cover.

From there my thought process took a turn to me thinking about other authors I love, and how they all have their own trademark method of writing.  They all have their own rhythm, a flow that is uniquely their own.  That individual Literary Fingerprint plays a large role in why I love each of them so much.  I wait on pins and needles for Maggie Stiefvater’s new releases, and this is is why:

Orla tossed her head, her magnificently large nose describing a circle in the air. Then she tore off her bell-bottoms so fast that all the boys in the boat just stared at her, dazzled and stunned. Gansey couldn’t understand the speed of it. One moment, she was wearing clothing, and the next moment, she was wearing a bikini. Fifty percent of the world was brown skin and fifty percent was orange nylon. From the Mona Lisa smile on Orla’s lips, it was clear she was pleased to finally be allowed to demonstrate her true talents.

Trust me, take an impression of that and you can track it.

That then begs the question, could the lack of a Literary Fingerprint be one of the potential problems for authors who struggle to hit that sweet spot? Clearly what we as readers enjoy is subjective.  I started this essay talking about Rhys Ford, who is mostly a 3 star read for me.  Still, there are many readers that adore her writing style.  While her Literary Fingerprint doesn’t speak to me, it clearly speaks to others.  Maybe my thought process is way off, but it seems like there are authors who struggle to find their niche.  Is part of the problem that they haven’t mastered how to inject who they are into their stories?

Take J.R. Ward for example.  She originally wrote as Jessica Bird, and while the stories weren’t horrible, they were bland.  I read one, and while I know I read it, I can’t remember even a hint of what it was about.  Ward talks about how she struggled to find her groove when she was first published.  The story goes that one night Wrath just popped into her head, and from there it took her only a few weeks to outline 10 Black Dagger Brotherhood books.  I dare anyone to argue that Ward didn’t leave her fingerprint all over that series.  Or should I say serhies. (See what I did there?)  From that moment on she exploded.  Love her or hate her, you don’t forget her flare.

And of course, the argument could be made that I’m waay off the mark.  I’m clearly not a published author, and while I do enjoy writing for myself I don’t think I have a Literary Fingerprint.  Maybe that’s why this hit a nerve with me.  Maybe those who can’t… dissect?

Now is where you tell me how full of crap I am.  Bring it on.  It’s okay, I can take it.

About Birdie

Don’t look for her in any bar, club, crazy raging party, or anywhere there may be a large gathering of strangers. She’s more likely to be found tucked into the corner of the couch watching one of her favorite shows, or preferably under a comforter with her current novel.

10 Responses

  1. ichabod2014ic

    Hi Birdie.
    I get this all the time. People sometimes are struck while reading my books, because they are not written in a style like anyone else. In order to keep the action in the present tense and not a past tense, I have a way of writing everything in dialogue. Sometimes folks get into it, and sometimes they don’t, no-one has ever accused me of writing like somebody else!
    For good or bad, I have a literary fingerprint.
    Happy Reading!
    ~Icky. 🙂


  2. Lia

    You’re not full of crap! I agree, I love it when you can see that a writer really has developed his or her own style. I think that is something that really marks you as a writer and that can give your stories/books an extra dimension.


  3. Great idea for a discussion. 🙂 I totally agree with you. Some authors who have a lasting imprint in my mind are Jay Kristoff, Stephen King, and Gillian Flynn. I honestly could spot their writing in a stack of papers. I think it’s cool when you find an author with a different style you like. I know some people knock all of those authors for their styles, but I also think it’s what made them famous.


  4. Interesting topic. I haven’t read enough of the Black Dagger Brotherhood to see a literary fingerprint. The first book was just ‘meh’ for me, and I haven’t had the desire to read another one.

    I’m not sure this would count as a literary fingerprint, but every time I pick up a Cara McKenna book. I’m like ‘Oh, yeah. I’m reading a Cara McKenna book.’ But as soon as she uses the word punchy, I’m all ‘OH. YEAH. I’M READING A CARA MCKENNA BOOK.’ LOL


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