A War on Repetitious Repetitions

One of my links in the sidebar is to a neat site called Wordle. Don’t hate me, but despite recommending it for months, I hadn’t used it myself. You see, my computer had software issues.

Then, before Christmas, my old mainframe had a fortuitous meltdown. The result? I haz a shiny new machine that I pet and fondle, and which works so fast I don’t have time to make a pot of coffee while it considers saving a document. 

Anyway, have you folks seen what Wordle does? It takes a website or string of text and makes a word cloud, similar to the tag cloud I also have in my sidebar. The more often I use a word, the larger the font size becomes.

For instance, this is what it saw when I fed in my website address:

Oh, yeah. High-concept stuff there, baby! You could search all day — nay, a fortnight — and not find a worthier use of coal-fire-powered pixels. (Go ahead, I challenge you.) Smilie by GreenSmilies.com

Of course, one must be prepared to read between the lines to understand the gestalt of this site. But you are Tartitude readers. You are educated in nuance and irony. Hence, you know that “sunshine” and “undercurrents” are really code for global warming. Similarly, “kept heroine” and “mint shower”  are references to the moral decay of our society.

Let’s do another one, shall we? Here’s a random chapter from my work-in-progress. I’ve removed the characters’ names to keep the image unaffected by inescapable proper nouns:

Wow. Bench? Helmet?

Chin? Hot stuff, huh? Bet you wish RMH was finished, agented, purchased by a kick-ass publisher, and being escorted by armed guard to the bookstores even now.

All jesting aside, though, do you see a pattern here? I’m happy to say I don’t see any adverbs in my formal writing, but what the hell is “one” doing hogging up all the room in both images? I seldom use that word. Seldom. In fact, I’m offended at the very idea I’d—

Oh crap. Look at the very first word of this post… Smilie by GreenSmilies.com

See how useful this application might be to a writer? From this small exercise, I’ve learned to guard against overuse of a few precious words. Also, I’m going to work hard — ferociously hard people — to bring you quality content. Then I, too, might have this kind of image to claim in my portfolio:

That’s from the Huffington Post.

So have you used Wordle yet? Did you learn anything useful from it about your own writing patterns?  And finally, I’m not making any commitments here, but which few words — if I were to become bold and scheming and playful — would you give a great deal to see become as large as the “just” in my middle image? (Please don’t make them be “turgid” and “member”.)

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18 thoughts on “A War on Repetitious Repetitions

  1. I thought I’d almost won my personal war with procrastination – but this, this my dear friend, is a lovely weapon of distraction. What fun!

  2. Uh-oh. I think you have made a believer out of me. I may spend all of my time now using Wordle…

    That’s a good point, though, about it being a useful tool for writers. I can just imagine the words that would pop out if I put an excerpt from my WIP in there: “that,” “amoeba,” maybe “obfuscate.” Something like that. I can see how it could help point out problem areas–or lacks thereof. 😉

    Kudos on a great post!

  3. Furthermore… When I entered the text for Heartless, I was pleased to see the recurring themes of love and revenge emerge. Not so cool, though, was the prevalence of “elf” – Donna would be amused.

    PS – How do you copy and paste it somewhere as you did on your blog?

  4. Dawn, along with my shiny new computer came shiny new software: a snip tool. I can capture a small amount of image and save it as a jpeg.

    If you don’t have that, try these instructions: http://www.ehow.com/how_4623743_computer-using-snagit-digital-camera.html

    It won’t come out as crisp and clean as your normal text, but it’s still major cool.

    Wrt Donna, if she gets too cocky, we’ll have to run a chapter of hers through and see what emerges. 😉

    Lillian C, you are brilliant as a self-promoter. (Said without a trace of irony.) How can anyone resist following your link to your blog with that kind of teaser?

  5. Love the post, Hope! I’m going to play with Wordle and I can hardly wait to see what I come up with. Wouldn’t it be fun to use the results as a profile pic or to post on a website?

    I’m thinking it might be cute to use a blurb of my book or maybe a chapter, as you have, and depending on what does show up in larger print *wink, wink* it could hook people in for a second glance.

    I’m so going to play with this. What more will I do since my poor Cincinnati is currently struggling under the wrath of an Alberta Clipper?

  6. Hilary, I’m quite surprised “grimace” and “icky” don’t emerge, you witty but gruesome gal, you. 😉

    Rosie, I’d love to see your hot smex Wordle! Do it. Then post the link here, okay?

    1. Great, Laura. Send all the pr0nbots my way my way, why dontcha? 😉

      (I do wonder what it searched as well. I have a hunch it only went a post or two into my content. I’ll try it again in a few weeks and see the difference.)

  7. Okay, we don’t want to leave you with unlucky thirteen. I was trying to avoid coming here and getting beguiled by that Wordle thingy and its evil charms. I can see the black hole just waiting for me, tryin’ to suck up my time ….

  8. Glinda, it warms my heart that you’d make a pity comment, risk the Procrastination Monster, and do it in style, only because I don’t care for the number 13.

    PS: The Polls Galore post below could use the same TLC.

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