Wordle as a tool and a toy

Monday, September 24, 2012

5 Chiming In

I think most people are familiar with "word clouds," but in case you're not here's this one:

It's a cloud for the steampunkish novel my agent is currently reading: Sing Down the Stars.

Now, the obvious draw of a word cloud is that it's fun. It's a quirky way to visualize a novel (or anything else involving words). But, aside from being a toy that can distract you when you're getting bored or burned out, it has some legitimate uses.

Total disclosure - I've removed three words from this cloud: "one," "like," and "back." It was after I'd deleted them that I realized how useful wordle could actually be. I took those words out because they were so much bigger than the rest of the text, meaning they were used much more often than the other "most common" words. In other words, those are my crutch words.When I figured that out was when I started comparing the size of different words in the cloud to see how much of the novel is dedicated to them.

One thing that jumps out at me is the incidence of the heroine's name ("Penn") in relation to that of the other characters. Since she's the one telling the story, her name shouldn't occur as often as others', because no one really thinks of their self in the third person (unless there are some other mental or social issues going on). So I was happy to note that her name is a little less than half the size of the other characters' names. Not only that, but it's interesting to see that the main secondary characters all came out to be approximately the same size. "Jermay," "Birch," "Winnie," "Klok" and "Nye" are equally important to the heroine at different times and for different reasons. It's nice to see that none of them overpower the other.

There are some interesting juxtapositions of words, too. They won't make any sense to anyone who isn't familiar with the story, but "never asked Klok enough" is a VERY telling sentence in context. As are "Warden took," "Warden turned," and "get behind something." The words are arranged at random based on selection for shape and how much of them you want vertical vs. horizontal (I usually pick a 50/50 split), but it's still kind of cool to see how they line up.

(I'm not sure why Warden is on there twice, unless the function that creates the cloud recognizes that one Warden is capitalized and one isn't. In this novel, "warden" is a title, equivalent to military rank, so a person is "Warden Nye" or "Warden Arcineaux," but they hold the rank of "warden," just like they were sergeants or lieutenants.)

Anyway, the short version of this long post is that word clouds are a quick way to see if what you deem important in your novel actually gets the lion's share of the attention. It allows you to quickly determine your crutch words, and gives you heads up that you may be using your MC's name a bit more often than is needed for a 1st person POV.

So, if you've never played with wordle before, here's THE LINK.

Have fun, and I leave with another cloud. This one for my super-sekrit MG WIP. Care to venture a guess as to what the MC's name is?  :-D

Oh Dear.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

3 Chiming In
It seems my family has discovered my blog. (Darn you Google search!!!)

Now if you'll excuse me, I think there may be some old posts that need to make their way into the rubbish bin.

(Just kidding, guys. Really.... I mean it... er... DON'T CLICK THAT... er ... never mind.)

Delete... Delete...Delete...


Stalking is NOT perseverance

Friday, September 14, 2012

3 Chiming In

This is the TV version of perseverance in the name of one's "dreams":
This is my DREAM! She's my DREAM AGENT! I shall impress her with my golden awesomeness and she shall love me!

No thank you.

But it's my DREAM. *tries again*

No thank you. (whispers to assistant - "didn't I read this query already?" - assistant nods yes)

Please give me another chance. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please... IT'S MY DREAM!

No thank you. * blocks email *

My feelings, they are hurted. I am sad-faced for my DREAM,

Um... maybe you should try something else.

No! I am determined. She will love me! She is my DREAM AGENT! This is my DREAM and no one's taking it away from me!!!

Er... maybe you should take a breath, or a nap. Lay off the coffee, or you know - blink.

Blinking is for losers. I shall BE VICTORIOUS!

Dude, write another book, get better, or just try a different agent. Your dream agent doesn't even rep comical murder memoirs about werepuppies.

That's right, I don't. And the more time I have to spend telling you that is more time everyone else loses. Stop wasting everyone's time!



I'm younger than you and more delusion- er - determined. LOVE ME!!!

You've got spirit. I'll give you that.

*shows off spirit fingers*

Tell 'ya what. Let's try this again - impress me.

That did NOT just happen.

No. No it didn't - but too many people think it will. Thanks to sensationalized stories (*cough* RUDY *cough*) and portrayals on TV/movies that show stalkerish behavior being equated with determination, there's a skewed idea of where the lines of acceptable behavior get drawn.

Now, to be honest, most people never cross that line. They might get right up onto it, but they pull back when they realize they're getting too far out there.

Then you have things like what happened to Pam van Hylckama (@bookiliciouspam).

The short version is that she was tracked down, and attacked, by a man whose query she had rejected. He used social media to find her daughter's school and came at her while she was in her car, but thankfully her dog intervened (intravenously :-D Good doggie).

This is NOT OKAY.



This is NEVER okay. You do not get to hurt someone because they don't respond the way you think they should. Most of us learn this in Kindergarten, but for others, the lesson never sunk in.

When you - continually - seek someone's attention after they've - repeatedly - told you to go away, when you decide to find them for professional reasons outside their professional schedule, when you determine that you need to see them in person to make them "understand" you, when you place your wants and needs above all else - YOU ARE A STALKER.

You are not this:

You are this:

And no one wants to work with that guy.

Boundaries are a good thing. Figure out where they are and don't be the guy who tries to build a ladder or dig or trench to get around them. The great thing about dreams is that they're pliable. You can alter them if you need to. That's a whole lot easier than trying to talk your way out of a prison sentence.