Monday, May 21, 2012

Online Writer's Toolbox: Wordle

by Jemi Fraser

Today, I want to talk a bit about those online writing tools. We have a lot of new followers here at FTWA, and I'm not sure everyone has had a chance to tour the site. If you haven't, the Online Writer's Toolbox is a great tab to check out!

As you can see, we've listed several sites members of our team find useful.

One of my favourites is Wordle. Wordle analyzes text and creates an interesting collage of words. It ignores 'a, the, an, it...', then sees which words you use most often. The more you use the word, the larger that word appears in the Wordle art.

The main reason I use the site is because my first drafts are littered with words I overuse: looked, seemed, just, really, felt, almost... If any of those pop up in the art, I go back and slash with a vengeance! I do a lot of rewording of sentences during this phase.

Here's an example from one of my drafts. I've deleted character names (just right click over the word and then delete). They're distracting when I want to see what words I'm overusing. As you can see from this example, I had to cut down on several words! I know I overuse 'eyes', 'look', and 'like'—but 'back' was a big surprise to me. The more recent wordle was a lot more balanced!
Wordle: Draft

It's a helpful tool for me—gives me a focus for a revision round. Or two.

Do you use Wordle? Have you used any of the other tools on our list? Do you have any you'd like to add?

Jemi Fraser is an aspiring author of romantic mysteries. She blogs and tweets while searching for those HEAs.

50 comments:

Stephen Tremp said...

I haven't heard of Woordle but hanks for the tip! Just one more online tool to look up and accept or reject. But this one looks like it could certainly be of use!

Nas said...

Thanks for all the tips Jemi. I had heard of wordle, just haven't tried it yet.

Old Kitty said...

Yay for these handy links! I've used wordle before and it's always interesting to see the words I over-use or use a lot and it's never the one I suspect! LOL! Take care
x

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Nice tips, Jemi. I've used Wordle before...it's very helpful!

JeffO said...

I have not used Wordle. But being that this is the second time I've seen it referenced as a handy tool, I may have to check it out for myself.

The Self-Raising Kitchen said...

Thanks, Jemi, for referring us to the toolbox. I'm a newby here and hadn't really looked around. I have now, and I'll certainly be utilising Wordle in the future :-)

Natalie Aguirre said...

I haven't heard of this so thanks for sharing abut it. I do have a list of redundant words that I try to check and not use. It really has helped cut my word count.

Jemi Fraser said...

Stephen - I really like it for when I'm at the slash and burn stage of editing. Hope it works for you :)

Nas - it's fun to see what your ms looks like based on those words! I hope you find it useful!

Old Kitty - that's what it was like for me with this one! I hadn't realized back would be so used!

Elizabeth - thanks! I find it very helpful when I'm polishing!

Jeff - I think you'll find it interesting. It makes me more aware of certain words :)

SRK - welcome to the site! I hope you find a lot of useful links and ideas here! Enjoy Wordle :)

Natalie - it's amazing how those extra words add up! I much prefer my leaner version when I'm done!

LD Masterson said...

Wordle is a new one for me. I'm going to check it out. Thanks for the tip.

Jemi Fraser said...

Linda - you're welcome! I find it's a great tool for that editing round :)

Lynn Proctor said...

interesting tool!

Jemi Fraser said...

Lynn - it really is! I've found it very helpful! :)

Maree Caseri said...

Wow, that's a pretty snazzy tool. I'll be sure to use it. This will make it so much easier to pinpoint exactly what words I overuse. Thanks!

Jemi Fraser said...

Maree - it really is! I'm terrible at overusing words in those first drafts so it's very helpful to me! :)

Cherie Larkins said...

I love Wordle! Such a fun and useful tool.

Jemi Fraser said...

Cherie - it really is! I've found it very helpful during revising - I'm much more aware of words as I type now!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I've never used it but it's a great idea.

Jemi Fraser said...

Susan - I like it - it sure gives me an eyeful at times! :)

Lynda R Young said...

Wordle is such a cool tool. And an eye-opener too. The first time I tried it, I thought, oh woops! hehehe

Jemi Fraser said...

Lynda - I still think that every time I use it! I get some words under control and other ones pop up to take their place! :)

Leslie Rose said...

I've messed around with Wordle, but never used it as a tool. Thanks for the tip.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

I love Wordle! It's a great tool for picking up those pesky crutch words that always pad up a manuscript.
Judy, South Africa

Jemi Fraser said...

Leslie - you're very welcome! It's such a great help to me :)

Judy - exactly! And my first drafts (especially if I write during NaNo) are littered with them :)

Jean Oram said...

I've only used Woordle for fun, but I can really see now that it can be a great revision tool. I wonder what words I overuse these days. Hmm...

Thanks, Jemi!

Talli Roland said...

Wordle, yay! I love it! It's such a great resource. Thanks, Jemi!

RSMellette said...

I have a framed Wordle of my first book.

Christopher Hudson said...

Haven't used wordle yet ... but I did send a paragraph of a book of mine to a website that promised to critic it ... I was amused at the result: too many words! Guess I shoulda stuck to 140 characters.

Jemi Fraser said...

Jean -you're welcome. That's the thing with me too - my overused words change with the story!

Talli - and it's fun! I like seeing how the ms shapes up :)

RS - what a cool idea! I'll have to do that ... when I'm done!

Christopher - that's too funny! Too many words is a pretty vague crit!! :)

Mary@GigglesandGuns said...

I use Wordle for fun and posters but never did I think to use it like this.
What a great tip!

Jemi Fraser said...

Mary - so glad I could give you a tip that might help! Have fun with it!

TerryLynnJohnson said...

whoa, that is a great tip! I have tried this once and I also had EYES and LOOK a bit too prominent! Great tool to use. I'm going to check out your toolbox tab! Thanks!

Jemi Fraser said...

Terry - look always shows up for me - but I'm getting better at using it less in the first drafts so I have less to fiddle with! :)

Ava Quinn said...

Thanks for the tip, Jemi. That looks like a fun little, down and dirty tool.

Jemi Fraser said...

Ava - it really is! I love using it at a couple of points in my revision process! Hope you find it helpful too :)

Elana Johnson said...

I've heard of wordle--I actually use it in my computer lab--but I've never thought to do it to see which words I've overused. Great tip!

Jemi Fraser said...

Elana - thanks! Kids do love wordle too - it's a fun & useful tool :)

Shelley Sly said...

Great post, Jemi! I love using Wordle. I was a bit ashamed to see that I overuse "like" and "really", but now I make an effort to cut those extra words out.

Rosalind Adam said...

I've just had a go at Wordle. I put the first chapter of my children's novel in and the biggest word is 'know'. Weird! I shall try it again with some of my other writing. Woopee another procrastination tool ;-)

Jemi Fraser said...

Shelley - I know the feeling! It's funny how those words crop up - even when you're conscious of them!

Rosalind - procrastination tools are fun!! The words always surprise me. I have my few I know will show up, but others are always a surprise! :)

The Golden Eagle said...

I've been noticing a lot of posts about Wordle in recent weeks. I'll have to try using it during the editing process sometime. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Golden Eagle - it's a really good tool! I like using it :)

erica and christy said...

erica told me about wordle a while back. i never used it. at the time i was in the middle of a project, and by the time i finished, i guess i forgot! thanks for the reminder. now i'm curious what words will "pop out" at me! christy

Jemi Fraser said...

Christy - the first time I did a wordle I was early in the process. It was a mess! I've learned a lot since then :)

Kela McClelland said...

I hadn't heard of wordle and now that you've introduced me to it I'm ignoring all of your future suggestions/links and whatnot :p

No really, thanks for this Jemi. I tried it and apparently I REALLY like the word 'know'...Which I never knew, lol.

Thanks again, it's a pretty cool and definitely handy tool. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Kela - Oops! :P

It really is a handy tool - especially after you get over the "I don't overuse THAT word! I know better!!" stage. (I'm still working on that stage myself...) :)

Medeia Sharif said...

I've used Wordle, but didn't think of deleting character names and setting. This is a great tip to check overused words, and I know there are some I need to delete.

Jemi Fraser said...

Medeia - sadly, there are ALWAYS words I need to delete! :) It does really help me see what needs attention!

nutschell said...

never heard of this but I'm definitely going to use this from now on. Great tip!
Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

Jemi Fraser said...

Nutschell - thanks! I love the site for those polishing rounds. Hope it works out for you as well! :)

Tam Brown said...

On www.txt2pic.com you can make more images with your text.