Word Clouds + Writing Challenges

05:49







20100216writingchallengeblog 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!)


WorldCloudLiar  

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:


InjurySceneVert  
 
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! 
 
 

Brian  



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4 comments

  1. I love it! Thanks so much. What a great idea.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I just was nailed! I just reviewed my submission and found that I just used the word "just" two times which were just as quickly deleted.
    Now to be serious...I promise to remove "just" from my text from now on. Hope it's still OK to say adJUSTed since I left that in place.
    My other overused word in writing is however. How do I break that habit?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Adjusted is all good! As for zapping out the however's...I'd say the first thing to do is see how your sentences sounds if you simply cut it out.
    You might find the words flow along fine without it!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Skimming through my posting for the Liar Challenge I felt so proud I said to myself "Ow, I didn't use the word just.”
    Wrong! The triggers in my cerebral cortex discovered the word just twice in my less than 150 words submission! Twice!!!
    I just had to go back and review it, I mean, just when you think you’re doing the best you can it’s really not just! Just kidding! Challenge reviewed! ;)

    ReplyDelete

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