978-793-1553 fitz@johnfitz.com

Welcome to The Crafted Word

by John Fitzsimmons | TheCraftedWord.org

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      The Crafted Word is here because I love words. It is here because I have a compelling instinct to share what I have learned about the craft of writing. I have learned that writing well is NOT an obscure art. It is an attentiveness to learning–and practicing– skills that have stood the test of time, spiced by a dash of daring and audacity. It is knowing what works and why. It is knowing your audience and somehow firing them up to keep reading, and, when they get to the end, it was well-worth the time spent reading.  

It is not the realm of the gifted. It is within the realm and reach of anyone who desires to be a writer. The only prerequisite is will. Do you really want to be a writer? If so, then just do it. The Crafted Word can help you begin that quest. If you don’t, maybe I can still help you. Just don’t give up on yourself. 

If you are a student trying to make sense of what you have been taught or assigned or required to do, I can help you get going and get through and get finished.  

If you are a teacher looking for ways to teach writing, I can help you–heck, I’ll even give you–every trick that thirty years in the battlefield of the classroom has worked to engage even the most disengaged and sullen student. 

If you are a parent desperate for ways to help your kid get a leg up on the horse and boost his or her confidence as a reader and writer, I can hand them the reins, show them the trail and point them in the right direction.  

If you are a writer who needs another set of honest eyes or who needs to make something zing that is not zinging, I can help shore up your foundation, sharpen your vision and build the clarity that eludes you.

If you are a weary department head doing your damndest to get your equally weary teachers to try new things, I will come to your school and show what really works–and how a simple and energizing approach to writing can renew, restore and reinvigorate whatever is dragging the system down.

And, finally, if you are just the common soul who knows in your heart that you forgot most of what you learned about writing and punctuation and grammar and rhetorical devices, I can show you that you have not forgotten as much as you think–and you’ll soon think your the next incarnation of Shakespeare.

Oh, and one more finally, if you are a songwriter or just someone looking to dust off that old guitar and make a stab at stardom, I am also a folksinger of small renown–with the emphasis on small, and I would be happy to help get you playing again–or for the first time. By my scientific experience, it takes the average person about twelve hours to learn to play–or at least well enough to fool people into thinking you were once a child prodigy. Really!

In short, whomever or whoever or whatever you are, I can help you.  

Just give me a call.


John Fitz, Proprietor,



“An absolute treasure of folksongs, stories, and contagious charm” 

~Doris Kearns-Goodwin

American Historian

Fitz is remarkable as a writing teacher for a number of reasons: for his help with technique, for his impressive role-modeling, and for his inspiring personality. I wanted to write well when I wrote for Fitz!

~Paul Michaud

Winner: The Groton School Writing Prize, 2018

With the wit and engaging personality of a born storyteller, Fitz connects with his students and inspires them to write confidently and effectively in their own voices. He taught our son the fundamentals of excellent writing through critical analysis of poetry, song lyrics, classic literature, blogs and video essays.  Thanks to Fitz’s guidance and support, our son is excelling at Vanderbilt University. 

 ~Dave Reudiger

John has tutored all three of my boys. He engages his students with a creative, effective and dynamic toolset that includes technology, humor, compassion and a deep knowledge of students to enhance and deepen his or her writing skills and self-confidence.

~Gari Palmer

Contact Fitz or call: 978-793-1553

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The Crafted Word Blog

Fitz’s ramblings, reflections, songs, essays & poetry…

Openings & Closings…

Both 8th grade and 9th grade are working on opening paragraphs, and I bet more than a few of you are a bit stumped on how to start. Some of you may even be working on a conclusion.Wouldn't that be nice.My best advice is to use the latest version of my iBook "Fitz's...

Iambic Dimeter Poem

Iambic DimeterWhen you combine two iambic feet, (ba-booms) you can create poetry in iambic dimeter.  These poems are relatively rare, but are extremely effective for a short observational poem.NOTE: sometimes the rhythm is more ba-ba-boom [unstressed-unstressed...

Writing a Metacognition

If we don’t learn from what we do, we learn little of real value. If we don’t make the time to explore, reflect and rethink our ways of doing things, we will never grow, evolve and reach our greatest potential or tap into the possibilities in our lives.

The Concord Town Dump

When I was a kid it was the dump. Every Saturday morning my father and I would pile a week’s worth of trash into the back of our Plymouth Fury station wagon and head the to the Concord town dump. Back then the dump was a place of perpetually burning fires and massive...

The Power of Slam Poetry

https://youtu.be/e0_67VDQG_Q Listen to Kali's poem. Post your response as a comment. Be sure to answer, "What does Kali try to "do" as a poet to make her poem effective? 

Reflecting on Literature

     I am constantly asking my students (and myself) to reflect on the literature they, and I, read. As I have grown older—and not necessarily wiser—I find myself only reading literature that I am sure will prod me out of my intellectual and emotional torpor, like a...

Welcome to The Crafted Word

     I have been teaching, writing, playing and performing for over thirty-five years, while during these last ten years I have been given the time and space and support (and funds) to create a classroom and pedagogy that through stops and starts...

The Art of Collaboration

Danny, Jimmy, & Me   & The Art of Collaboration I      Mrs. Roeber never seemed to let Jimmy go outside, which, to my thinking as an 11 year old, was why he was so smart.  Most days after school, I’d rush two houses down the street and get Danny Gannon to come...

What Makes Something Compelling?

Read. Write...and now CREATE and SHARE...Few of you would bake a cake and not eat it. Most of you, especially if you are proud of your cake, would want to share your cake.This is basically the idea behind your Odyssey Portfolio.  Create something awesome. Share it.A...

Tell your story. Tell it well.

Some thoughts from the trenches...         Not everything can be put into a box. For years I have been trying to teach middle school and high school age boys “how to write” by using a series of extremely detailed rubrics that leave little to chance, but maybe (I...

The Power of Simplicity

Years ago I wrote in my journal that my goal in life was to be small, be simple, be wise, be happy, and above all be ready. I cannot honestly say that I have achieved all of these goals, but these are still the “ideals” I strive to live in my life. These are my...

Me & Rocky…

Take your foot off the brakes, but keep your eyes on the road~FitzOnce, back in my days as a logger, I cut through a big white oak. I didn't realize that the trunk was mostly rotten and hollow until my chain saw was most of the way through the monstrous tree. After...

Starting Up…

This was certainly not an ideal way for us to start the year, but we will make the best of it.  From here on in, this site will be a place you need to visit and comment on in a regular way. I will be posting your upcoming assignments and grades on Finalsite, but the...

John Adams and Me

    From the deck of my sister’s house on the Oregon coast, I can see the breakers lumbering in as the heavy morning fog slowly burns away. In true west coast style, I brewed a coffee that is strong and pungent and will guide me through my own morning fog. I was...

The Paradox of Rubric-Based Writing

     What a boring title…rubric-based writing…I am sure this would be a big seller on Amazon: “Buy Now and Save on Fitz’s Narrative Paragraph Rubric!” Frustration guaranteed! Used by hundreds of angry students…And I could on and and on because I have heard it all,...

WW Fenn Week

It is hard to imagine a more perfect weekend for memorizing your WW Fenn piece!The class presentations will start on Thursday, [Monday for ninth grade] so please be ready. Those with shorter pieces will be asked to go first.By now you should have posted your WW Fenn...

The Uses and Abuses of Rhetoric

So What’s Your Point?The Uses and Abuses of RhetoricKnowing that you do not understand is a virtue; 
Not knowing that you do not understand is a defect.
—Lao TzuNobody likes to be wrong, and for that matter, most of us “like” to be right. Few of us walk around...

What Writer’s Do

This is perhaps the biggest thunderstorm that I haven’t been in.  The lightning is flashing and bolting to the ground, and the thunder is booming in every direction—though it is all five miles away.  Here there is no wind or rain.  The sky is bright directly overhead,...

I have been here before

Trying to pull a final day Back into the night, execute Some stay of time, Some way to wrap The fabric of Summer Around the balky, frame of Fall, sloughing My skin, unable to stop This reptilian ecdysis— This hideous morphing Into respectability. My students, tame As...

Keep The Passion Alive

The Power of Descriptive Writing Tell Your Story           Our minds shift gears when filled with imagery: either we slow down and smell the flowers or we shift into a higher gear, and our minds become alive with the power and rush that only images and actions can...

Fitz-Style Journal Entry

https://youtu.be/yUrdAFKiNmI Upload the Fitz Style Journal Entry Rubric How To Create a Fitz Style Journal Entry Set the Scene & State the Theme; Say what you mean, and finsih it clean      When writing a blog post, is important to remember that a reader is also a...

Secondary School Writing Piece

This is the time of year that many of you are involved in the stressful process of applying to secondary schools.  For each of you who are applying out, I write a detailed and thorough recommendation that highlights your strengths and notes any challenges you might...

8th: Star Wars and You

Book XV is no the most exciting book in The Odyssey, but it "sets up" the next six books in an important way. I was thinking of this as I left Star Wars tonight (which, by the way) is a masterful retelling of The Odyssey). I liked the movie, but I did feel like I was...

A Welcome

I, on my side, require of every writer, first or last, a simple and sincere account of his own life, and not merely what he has heard of other men's lives; some such account as he would send to his kindred from a distant land... ~Henry David Thoreau, Walden          ...


 To Create Effective Transitions in Essay Writing The Power of a Natural and Logical Flow        The crazy thing about transitions is that we are already masters of transitions. All of us have been practicing and perfecting a natural and logical flow for as long as we...

Teach Like a Shop Teacher

 Teaching Traditional & Modern Skills for Reading, Writing, Creating & Sharing in a Digital World Create a Better Classroomfor You & Your Students Teaching Traditional & Modern Skills for Reading, Writing, Creating & Sharing in a Digital WorldTeach...

Don’t Do It

          I was eighteen and designing a production line for making stepladders at Fitchburgh State College—the only college I could afford, and probably the only place that would have me. I remember thinking, ‘Man, this ain’t no life for me.’ I barely had a working...

Swing, dammit, swing…

What’s so important about this literary analysis paragraph thing? Maybe you won’t be spending your life analyzing literature. Maybe this is some academic exercise that is ultimately no big deal in the greater scheme of your life.Or maybe it is…You will always be...

Making a Poem Better

     So, you finished your “poem” in whatever genre of poetry you are writing, and you turn it in and proudly think, ‘There is no way any teacher can grade me down after I poured my heart and soul onto the page!” And you know, I...

The Poet’s Arrow

As with most poets trying to write a poem—in any style— the difficult part is getting started. In the complex swirl of life there might seem to be too many options, or not enough, and so a young poet may look like a confused archer in a chaotic battlefield. What a...

Design Writing Plans & Rubrics

Detailed Blueprints for Effective Writing

The Art of the Essay

Tell your story. Tell it well

Learn Wisely

John Fitzsimmons has a love for the mechanics of writing and a powerful command of the written word. The magic is in his overall approach to life. Time with him is a gift to your child.  While they are becoming stronger writers and meeting their project goals, they are absorbing John’s life lessons on practicality, positivity, hard work and generosity.

~Anne Elton

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Essays. Resumes. Manuscripts. Portfolios. Websites.


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A Great help.

~Brian Laak
Laak Woodworks, Berthoud, CO


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