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Wordle is the coolest thing ever. Or, well, it ranks right up there, anyway.

I was messing around with this yesterday courtesy of my wonderful Purgatory friends over at AW, where we were talking about the different things we do to get unstuck. I had a boring list: 1) give up caffeine (which is actually not at all boring if you do it); 2) meditate (yes, quite boring, particularly for anyone in the room with you), and 3) paste the WIP over into a new doc, in a new font, and start reading at page 1. Not very exciting stuff. Someone mentioned Wordle, and then we were all off playing with it. As messing-with-the-WIP passtimes go, it’s more constructive, if less hilarious, than MS Word’s AutoSummarize feature, and makes for a nice distraction.

You paste in text and get  a word cloud, which basically means Wordle scans the text and picks out the words you use most often –removing the most commonly used ones, I presume, since THE doesn’t end up in the middle of every result in 88 point font.

For example, here’s HAMLET:


Interesting. Not exactly surprising, particularly the names, since this is a play and every line of dialogue or stage direction includes a name. Now look at what I got when I did SWORD.


A fairly similar prominence of names, which I guess is to be expected for a third person, 100K manuscript: I may not use play format, but while I’m permitted a thicket of personal pronouns, I still have to make sure you know who’s talking, running, stabbing, crying, kissing, what-have-you.

My most common non-name words are a hell of a lot less interesting, or maybe that’s just because I so rarely see tis these days.  But the distribution of nouns and verbs is pretty close, and I expected it not to be, I don’t know why. I thought there’d be more nouns in HAMLET, more verbs in SWORD, but I don’t think I took into account that the command form is used pretty damn often in Shakespearean plays, far more so than in my little novel. Or something like that.

I know it’s not accurate –all the really important stuff in a novel is (usually) not repeated more than a rare few times at most, so this fun little program can’t pick up on any of it — but I  like this. It’s like a snapshot of all the filler in between the stuff that happens; like I get to look at the connective tissue of my novel.

Yes, I’m thinking too much about this. Yes, I’m procrastinating.

And yes, I admit it: I have one of these thingys for every MS I’ve got going, finished or not.