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The Critique Crypt => General writing chat => Topic started by: fnord33 on March 13, 2013, 06:17:27 PM



Title: word clouds
Post by: fnord33 on March 13, 2013, 06:17:27 PM
I was reading somewhere recently that you can find out which words you are overusing by creating a wordcloud. I tried it. "Looked" was the biggest word. ctrl+f said it was used 115 times. I don't think that's a lot for a novel, but I looked at them and found that about 40% could be easily changed to make the sentence better. Time, know, want and thing were also way bigger than they should probably be rest, so I'm going to do them next.

I used tagxedo, but it's not the best. My PC almost crashed when I tried to do an Java update on the one I wanted to use. 


Title: Re: word clouds
Post by: delph_ambi on March 14, 2013, 03:13:44 AM
I find that once you've used that sort of program a few times, you get much better at spotting the overused words without any assistance, which can't help but improve your writing.


Title: Re: word clouds
Post by: Ed on March 14, 2013, 03:43:50 AM
Yep, words like 'looked' often create distance in the narrative when a simple observation would have done. I sometimes wonder whether we strive to get our writing too clean, though. Read things that were written twenty, thirty years ago and a lot of this stuff obviously wasn't a concern at the time. Is it because the readership has become more discerning?


Title: Re: word clouds
Post by: delph_ambi on March 14, 2013, 04:05:54 AM
I don't think readers are more discerning. Less, if anything. It's just down to writing fashions.

My personal view is you should work at getting your text as 'clean' as possible, and once you can do it without thinking, then you can be wordier when the context would benefit from a bit more verbiage. If you can't write clean text in the first place, you don't have that option. It's like anything with 'rules' - you have to know them before you can break them effectively.


Title: Re: word clouds
Post by: fnord33 on March 14, 2013, 04:39:32 AM
Is it because the readership has become more discerning?

A quick look at any "Best Seller" list proves that's not the case. I think writing is cleaner today because there are way more writers than there are publishing slots. We have to write for jaded editors who are looking for reasons not to read on. The focus has shifted from finding a great story to finding "something publishable". Personally, between a self-published work with twenty typos per page and a best seller that's been so polished it hurts my eyes to look at it I'd rather read the one that's good.  


Title: Re: word clouds
Post by: fnord33 on March 14, 2013, 05:19:35 AM
Anybody know what a bad ratio would be? The most used words were about 40 of every 10,000. That doesn't sound like much, but it took me a while to go though and look at them all in just a small sample. 


Title: Re: word clouds
Post by: delboy on March 14, 2013, 05:56:00 AM
I remember reading in these very hallowed halls many years ago that the word "seemed" was frowned upon, and I did something similar to the word cloud exercise. I didn't use "seemed" too much, but the mere fact of under-taking the exercise has meant I'm always on the look out for it now.



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