Word Clouds + Writing Challenges05:49
Word clouds are great writing tools. They offer a quick, visual representation of the most commonly used words in any text. The more common a word, the larger it is displayed in the cloud. By uploading a manuscript, a writer can get a larger sense of his or her habits and tendencies.
As a little experiment, I uploaded a bunch of entries from the two most recent writing challenges and created corresponding word clouds. Check them out!
The Liar Challenge (currently open for submissions!)
Notice how the most common word is "know." Interesting, considering the challenge is centered around a person telling a lie.
Now for the Injury Scene word cloud:
This one was also useful. All of the larger words—blood, pain, head, back, eyes, face, body—make sense given the nature of the challenge.
Another thing I noticed, the word "just" appeared prominently in both clouds. I think this reveals an overarching weakness in the submitters prose. I'm all about using "just" as an adjective (his cause was just, Judge Dredd is just, ect.) but when it's used an adverb (Joe was just sitting there, I was just about to call you) it often weakens the sentence.
Often, "just" has a way of slipping into an author's writing without them realizing—kind of like a verbal tic, but for writing.
So, I propose a challenge within a challenge: If you've submitted to The Liar Challenge already, go back through your entry and strike any unnecessary "just" usage. If you haven't submitted yet, do so with "just" conservation. When the challenge is over, I'll redo the word cloud, and we'll see if it's any smaller.
Let's call it the "Shrinking 'Just' Challenge!" Winners will receive a newfound sense of authorial pride, and a big congratulations on the blog.
Ok, get to it! And have a great 4th of July weekend!