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Sunday, 5 June 2011

Check Your Manuscript with Wordle

Wordle: First 13 Chapters Wordle: The Next 17 Chapters Wordle: Fantasy Novel

So I've wanted to try this for a long time. Basically, I wanted to check if I was unknowingly abusing words, and immediately thought of Wordle. In you can make your own pretty clouds in all kinds of shapes. See how lovely mine are? The first looks like a bloated heart, the second like a big fat slug, and the last... well, it looks like a whale on support. 

If you click on them, you'll see the words clearly. Now to the point. What do these words represent? 

They are the words I have used the most in chapters of my current WIP projects. The first one spans the first 13 chapters of my scifi novel, the second the next 17 chapters (NaNo 2010), and the third my fantasy novel's lousy half of a first draft I did for NaNoWriMo in 2009. Ta da!

So I do overuse words. It's blatantly obvious in the first and second wordles that I have basically raped the word LIKE. Jeez. This tells me I'll have to literally go back to those chapters and slay one in every paragraph. *arms self with patience* Other words I have to look out for are: just, felt, thought, made, even, one, back, and looked. The ones that really concern me are 'felt' and 'thought'. It just means I'm probably telling more than showing. *stocks more patience*

The second wordle hints at my preference for one of the MC's best friends. (Sigh.) Though this is balanced in the first one because see, Boon is one and Gob's the other. While Gob predominates in the second, Boon trumps him in the first. Win/Win. And there the third major ally is! Reven. She's awesome and tricky, a typical minx. However... I can't see the antagonist's name anywhere! OMG. Has he gone missing from my chapters? Have I completely forgotten to include him in the MS? WTF?! Ok, calm down... *breathing*

Yet other words to watch out for according to the second wordle are: know, one, looked, time, back, and people. (And don't forget the huge-ass LIKE, the monster!) I'm glad 'time' got its place in there since the entire concept of the book lies on this single word. Like that whale perched on a stick up there in the third wordle. Speaking of which...

Now this one is very useful and concerning indeed. While the first two illustrated what I did wrong in the scifi book, which is written in first person, the third wordle concerns my fantasy WIP. Guess what person it's written in. That's right, in THIRD. (Double sigh.) Obviously, I have practically raped my MC's name in the early first draft, and since the second draft is hardly done, I'd better torch the whole thing and start over. O_o

Nah, just kidding. As tempting as that is, I'll just keep working at it. 

Moving on. Mike, Connor and Kim are the other three 'main characters' who embark on this journey with Sarah, or rather she's the one embarking on it by their side. Anyway, again I have favored one of them, and that's Connor. Well, makes sense since I am practically in LOVE with the guy. Can you keep a secret? He's going to end up together with my MC. Shhh. So of course I've fixated on both him and her, making this draft practically unusable. I'll have to consult Ed (the Editing Monster) on this...

Interestingly though, the only concerning word I see in the third wordle is 'looked'. I suppose I'll never grow out of that. But at least I haven't overused like again... which probably means that I've started overusing it in the last two years. Hmm, that's a thinker. 

So there you have it. I've analyzed my drafts. I haven't gone into detail here but you can also check for the recurring themes among those words, for example if most of them are action-related or sensation-heavy, which would mean you'd have to revise just as heavily. So try it for yourselves and let me know what you got by dropping me a link sometime, so we can all share what we've learned and hopefully learn from each other. Here's the link to Wordle:

Happy Wordling! 

P.S. I also got a useful link from fellow tweep Anne Mhairi Simpson, who is a very talented and helpful fantasy writer. (You might as well check out her blog too!) It's called EditMinion and is basically a free editing program which highlights the weak links in your texts. For example, it will highlight passive voice, adverbs, overused words, and weak words. It's very nifty. Say thanks to Anne! :)


Lynn(e) said...

I've never heard of this before, but that sounds really, really cool. I may have to try this! Thanks for the post!

Marcy Kennedy said...

I've never heard of this either, but I'm excited now to try it out. Thanks for the tip :)I'm sure I'll be back to a red pen massacre once I try it.

Lyn Midnight said...

Glad to be of service, you guys. I myself am preparing for the massacre. :D Good luck to both of you!

Jacqvern said...

Hi :)

Interesting. I think I'll give it a try. As a computer geek, I'm reluctant when it comes to applications. But this might be worth it. :)

Thank you for the info and analysis.

D. Ryan Leask said...

Thanks for pointing me to this:
This is so helpful and also helpful in explaining what to look for too. I thought I would point out though, Sarah Connor… (watch terminator lately?)

Lyn Midnight said...

@Jacqvern Hey Irene. Din't know you were a geek. :D Yes, try it, it helped me somewhat. Of course EditMinion was even more helpful but Wordle is prettier.

@D. Ryan Leask No problem. :) And yes, I know what you're referring to, when I was picking their names (many corndogs ago) I was living in a cave. :D

Thank you both for the feedback! And really, let me know if something interesting comes up from it. :)

Lindsey said...

Wow, this Wordle thing sounds really cool! Although I'm a little nervous to find out what words I overuse. I'm guessing that people look at each other too much ;)

I can see how Wordle could be really helpful for revisions, and give you an idea on how to continue. Good luck with it all!

Lyn Midnight said...

Hi Lindsey,

I was nervous too, but I actually thought it'd be another word, not like, for crying out loud. :D In fact, people DO say I overuse it in everyday conversations, yikes.

Thanks for commenting and good luck with trying it out! :) If at all possible, swing by to say what turned out.