July 23, 2008

Clouds of Unknowing

I've seen quite a few text-cloud applets over the past few years, but Wordle is perhaps the coolest one yet.

Here are the randomly generated Wordle text-clouds of the 150 most common words in the first chapters of each of the parallel narratives in Andromeda Klein, named for their protagonists, Andromeda Klein and Allyston Obeck:


You can click on each "cloud" for a larger image. Pretty neat, huh? And I promise you (whoever you may be, if any) that I wasted practically no time generating them.

Okay, back to work then...

(via Crooked Timber.)

[added]: one thing I learn from this, if the size of the words relative to one another really does accurately reflect their frequency, is that my writing (in both "voices") seems to overuse the word "though." That is, I should maybe try to write fewer equivocal or disclaimer-laden sentences. Come on, Portman, say what you mean! That's what these word clouds are telling me. "Said," "like," "swords" and "Judas Priest" don't bother me all that much, though. I mean, however.

[added further]: okay, I couldn't resist doing one for King Dork's opening chapter ("August.") Tom Henderson's voice is still rather equivocal, judging from the prominent "though," but quite a bit less so than either of the two third person (extremely) limited narratives above. I don't know what it means, if anything, but it does make me want to try to write something with no "though"s at all, just to see what it would be like:


Posted by Dr. Frank at July 23, 2008 08:05 PM | TrackBack


I like those, it's kind of like my brain. A big mess. You flit from focusing on one thing, to another but can never makes any sense of it all, and you end up feeling frustrated because you know you've missed something.

I read too much into things. But I like it!

Tell me the one about the cat.

Posted by: L at July 24, 2008 12:29 AM

You need a control group. "Though" could just be a more common word than you realize. I doubt it, though.

Posted by: josh at July 24, 2008 12:43 AM

Maybe the overuse of the word "though" is really an unconscious impulse on your part to balance the dual nature of the story. You know as you're writing that there are two versions of the story, so you're unconsciously adding disclaimers to each. I can see how that would be bad, since each character would have to believe his or her version to be definitive.

Posted by: Nate Pensky at July 24, 2008 02:15 AM

I love doing these with my writing. Manipulating the color/layout to the tone of the piece is my favorite part, although perhaps I should be using them to pick out those words I use too much...

I don't think I want to know though. It's a scary prospect.

Posted by: Jordan at July 24, 2008 05:47 AM

Is the book finished? When can I get it?

Posted by: josh at July 24, 2008 03:33 PM

Josh, it is very nearly finished and will be available next year unless something quite terrible happens.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at July 24, 2008 07:29 PM