Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bob Meets Wordle

Subtitle: “My Worst Fears Just Confirmed”

Wordle: Bob

There. I just said it. I have a just problem. It’s just that just is such an easy word to throw into a sentence--just about any sentence, really. In fact, if you just think about it, you could probably write a whole book in which just about every other word is “just.”

Ahem. So I finally finished plugging up all of Bob’s little holes. (That is, I finally finished filling in EVERY blank, so now there are no more missing words). But before I did the rest of my tweaks, I decided to plug him into Wordle to see what word cloud popped out. And “just” really popped.

As far as I understand it, Wordle takes whatever words you give it and arranges them artistically, making the most common words most prominent. It ignores words like “and” and “the”--pretty much all conjunctions, articles, pronouns, and minor prepositions--and focuses on the important ones. Like “just.”

So what other too-big words popped up? “Back,” “like,” “one,” “still,” “looked,” “right,” “thought,” and “know.” I plan to do a find-and-replace search for each of these words (and several other words and phrases I know I overuse), and then I think I’ll be ready for my first round of beta readers.

So what about you? If you plugged your WIP into Wordle, what words would you expect to pop?


Kristi Helvig said...

I've been meaning to to do this, although I already know that just is one my over-used words--my crit partner told me so. :)

Esther Vanderlaan said...

Is that the whole book?

Amanda J. said...

Just is one of those comfort words I think. We just plug it in when we're feeling our sentences need a little something extra. :P

Nut just like 'like,' 'just' is an easy fix and requires virtually no rewriting to delete it. Hehe.

Good luck on revisions and betas!

Myrna Foster said...

Okay, I officially love the black background. I need to try this with Star Swans.

Krista V. said...

Can't get anything past those crit partners, Kristi:)

Esther, I used the whole book to generate it, but it's obviously not every word. These are, like, the two hundred most common words in the manuscript (not counting all the little words, as I mentioned), arranged artistically for your viewing pleasure.

Thanks for the good luck, Amanda.

Myrna, you do.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

I've never heard of Wordle. That shows how often I get out. Some of my overused words are up, out, but, well the list could go on and on. I'll have to give Wordle a spin. :)

Krista V. said...

You should definitely give it a try, Kathi. (Although, like I said, it seems to ignore some of those smaller prepositions...)

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Yay! You did it. Very cool. It's comforting to know I'm not alone in the just problem. :)


Molly Hall said...

I love Wordle! I recently plugged in about 6 chapters and the word that was biggest, by FAR, was "eyes". I was so embarrassed. That is TOTALLY how I express feelings, reactions, relationships etc. It's a crutch! There are lots of other ways to express emotion on the page. Now, at least I know where to start my edits. It's so much fun, though. I also pasted in about 8 pages of notes on another WIP and it revealed a lot--which characters are on my mind the most etc. Thanks for sharing!

Krista V. said...

Amy, I'm starting to think everyone has a just problem.

Molly, I think words should only be embarrassing once you can't change them anymore - like, once the book's actually printed and on the shelves. So you're good:)

annebingham said...

It'll get me on "but," "even," "because" and, um, "just."

Also "get." I became conscious of an overdependence on "get" and "got" after a teacher mentioned trying to break his kids of the habit.

I think this might be the Anglo-Saxon roots of English peeking out. One of these days I'm going to research this...

Krista V. said...

Anne, curse those Anglo-Saxons! (In the nicest way possible...)

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