View Full Version : Wordle tool.

Southern Girl
04-01-2010, 08:09 AM
Ok, first off - this isn't a gripe, though I'm a little peeved about what occurred tonight. It's an honest question and comment on my experience using Wordle.

Anyone familiar with this tool? Sorry I don't have a link - it's an online tool that allows you to paste in a body of text and it generates a word cloud. The larger words are the ones your text uses most, and on down the size/usage scale until you have teeny words.

So, it was recommended on an author's blog I've frequented for a few weeks now. I don't write YA, but I seem to gravitate towards the YA crowd for some reason (I'm new to this networking thing). The website author writes YA. The author recommended Wordle for other writer's works.

I tried it. I found it to be cute, colorful, gimmicky, and - sorry - a complete waste of my time. My biggest words were all significant ones in my 110K draft - they needed to be there. The others were passive verbs/pronouns that I already knew had to be taken care of. Realizing that this might be better served with a final draft, I chalked it up to "meh".

Maybe it's me, but with a larger work - aren't there going to be some words that are repeated time and time again? What is the point of this tool? To use the thesaurus? Every bit of writing advice I've ever gotten has said to use the word that comes to mind, and if it's not the right word, to keep thinking. - Not that I have anything against thesauruses.

I'm just not sure I get the point of Wordle.

Is Wordle this hugely important all-inspiring tool that writers should all take advantage of?

Wordle, anyone?

04-01-2010, 08:21 AM
I've used Wordle. But only as an art project.

Really? Someone out there uses it to help them with their writing? I suppose it can show you what words you use a lot, maybe open your eyes to some repetitiveness. But I thought it just existed to make pretty word pictures.

Seriously don't think too much about this. Obviously it's something that that particular author felt helpful, but really for me (and I think most other people) it's just a fun thing to play around with and an excellent tool for procrastination.


04-01-2010, 08:39 AM
I'm afraid you've missed the point. Wordle is described as a "toy" in the first sentence on its web site. Did someone present it to you as a serious writing aid? Because it wasn't built to be one. It's a tool for generating procedural art.

04-01-2010, 08:49 AM
SG, Yeah, Wordle makes word pictures (clouds).
Some are pretty, some are pretty boring. Some may provide some insight.

ETA: Sure, it's a "toy". But toys can be informative, too.

We use them in education to give students new ways to study and grasp the meaning of passages of text.

Here's an interesting example from the Guardian. It shows the State of The Union (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/gallery/2009/feb/24/wordle-state-of-the-union-address-history?picture=343668065) speeches from seven presidents, from Washington to Reagan. (You can find a comparison of Presidents Obama and Bush if you want as well, but that's a discussion for a different sub-forum. :) )
Just glancing through them gives you the themes of their texts, and a glimpse of the issues facing the country during those times.

For our own writing (and students) it will show frequency of word usage-- redundancy of adjectives for example.

Here's an experiment I haven't tried yet. I'm wondering, if I put a large enough part of my last book in to a Wordle Cloud, would it show me the strongest points/themes from which to craft the pitch?

Hope this helps.

04-01-2010, 09:17 AM
*looks puzzled*

I pasted my entire WIP in the window. The middle of my word cloud is the name of a character. LMAO--as a matter of fact, all the biggest words are character names. Let me try something from another piece.

Yep. Same thing for the first three chapters for Deception. I'm thinking it has something to do with writing in first person POV and having conversations with multiple characters simultaneously. I also apparently like the word like. Hmmm....too many metaphors maybe? You can go check it out if you want to. (http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/1856065/Deception_Enters_Stage_Left_first_three_chapters) I was just overjoyed to find few adverbs. I'm thinking they eliminate conjunctions, prepositions and such--heck, they'd have to. But it's pretty fun--and a potential aid when revising even though it's meant for a game.

04-01-2010, 10:19 AM
if you really want a tool, check out this phrase frequency counter (http://www.writewords.org.uk/phrase_count.asp). It can show the number of times you use particular 2, 3, 4, etc word phrases. It does word frequency, too. I prefer to have hard numbers than just relative visual representations. :)

Matera the Mad
04-01-2010, 10:54 AM
When I want to seriously anal-ize, I use TextsTAT (http://neon.niederlandistik.fu-berlin.de/textstat/)

Wordl is fun, and very visual.

Anything large in my cloud (http://www.firefromthesky.org/wordpress/?p=16) makes me think. Thinking is good exercise.

Southern Girl
04-01-2010, 05:02 PM
Lol, okay - this is pretty much what I thought. But hey, didn't want to knock what might be a huge writing epiphany for someone else. The other suggestions actually look helpful. I think I'll check into them.

And yeah, after sleeping on it, I realize I was more pissed about the response I got from the author than about the thing with Wordle. Thanks for letting me b*tch it out.


04-01-2010, 06:12 PM
I don't really understand what the point of such a tool is.

04-01-2010, 09:08 PM
I don't really understand what the point of such a tool is.
It's fun. I did my NaNo 2009 (http://pannarrans.wordpress.com/2009/11/15/wordle-of-my-novel/) in it, just to see how it looked. I wouldn't use it for any serious thinking about my writing, unless it showed I overused a particular word that's not a name of one of my MC's.

04-02-2010, 04:44 AM
My editor sent me there when we were trying to brainstorm titles for my novella. While I was at it, I discovered that I say "just" way too often ;)