Jeff Seymour - Author of Fantasy, Literary Fiction, & c.: Friday Wordle: 1/13/12

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Wordle: 1/13/12

So there's this really cool tool out there on the Internet called Wordle. You have probably seen some of its work. It takes a block of text of any size and creates a graphic with it, sizing words by how often they occur within the text.

I discovered it a few years ago on someone else's blog, and since then I have always run my manuscripts through it after I finish a draft of them. It tends to be a pretty rewarding experience, and it usually tells me more than I expect about my writing. For instance, I have learned that I use the word "eyes" a lot. So I keep an eye out for it when I'm editing and make sure that there isn't a better way to say whatever I'm using it to say.

I've been wondering how I might be able to share what I'm writing with people on the blog, and I think that Wordle might be a good way to do it, since I can just take whatever I've been working on that week and feed it through the Wordle machine, then talk about what it is. We'll see how it turns out.

This week I've been working on the full manuscript of my YA fantasy Soulwoven. When I run it through Wordle, this is what I get:

So--interesting things. We can see that I still use the word "eyes" a lot. I'm all right with that. Eyes do a lot of things, and we get a great deal of information from the movement of someone else's eyes. It's also pretty easy to see who the book's main characters are (Litnig and Cole are the brothers the narrative centers on). More interesting to me are some of the smaller words that make the cut. Words like "light," "darkness," "life," "fear," "cold," "heart," and "wall." Things that turn up again and again in the novel.

Oh, and I like to make sentences by following the words around the Wordle. Like "Leramis felt hand fingers, even opened beyond wind." Or "Ryse thought, 'Look. Light. Darkness. Never long.'"

It's a fun game.

I'll be submitting the manuscript starting next week, which means it's synopsis time, during which I get to boil 130,000 words of novel down to about 300 of plot description. As you might guess, there are more enjoyable ways to spend an afternoon, but it still beats cleaning the bathrooms.

In other news, I have discovered this week that if one substitutes "whipping cream" in a quiche recipe that calls for "light cream," one will end up with a very heavy, very tasty quiche, in which all the cheese sinks to the bottom and the whole mixture forms sort of a quiche pie.


Happy weekend!

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