Friday, February 11, 2011

Discovering Crutch Words with Wordle

Falling to Normal Wordle
Crutch words are those sneaky things that are the backbone of your personal vernacular. They can be disguised as fillers, such as "um," or actual phrases, like "you know?" and "omigod!" They're so insidious an unobservant person wouldn't pick up on them.*

This is one of the things you should be on the lookout for during the editing process. The problem with this is unless you read through your manuscript over a short, undistracted period of time, it's going to be difficult to ferret them out. Also, since they're YOUR crutch words, your brain ignores them.

Since your brain likes denial, it's time to rely on technology. This is where Wordle comes into play. I touched upon this before, which you can read about here.

I'm the type of person who knows when Hubby's gone looking through something in my pile of stuff. In that same pile of stuff, I remember where everything is even if I haven't touched it in a month. Because of this slight craziness on my part, I like anything visual. This is why I love Wordle.

Phoenix Rising Wordle

Wordle shows me what words I use the most. All I need to do is paste my WIP into their text field and hit "Go." Then a word cloud gets generated. From there I can decide whether I want them to omit common words like "the" or leave them in. I can also see word count to get a solid number.

Pretty awesome, right?

If you have more than one project, it's a good idea to do a comparison. By comparing Falling to Normal and Phoenix Rising, I'm able to truly see what words I use the most in my writing. As you can see from the images above, my crutch words are pretty unoriginal: back, like, one, know.


What are your crutch words?

Don't forget to enter my haiku contest. Today is the last day!




* Unless you were in my cross-cultural communication class where we had a checklist with things to mark off during one exercise. "Um" is my filler of choice.

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Last.fm hit of the day: Lick it Up by KISS

6 comments:

  1. I posted your blog URL into the thing because I was bored. This was the outcome.

    http://i51.tinypic.com/2re371d.jpg

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  2. THis is cool. Never head of it, but I'm going to check it off. If for nothing else, I think word clouds are cool.

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  3. I love Wordle. It made me realize I use my character's names waaaaaaaay too much!

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  4. Yeah, the first time I did this, it was recommended on an a YA agent blog and he said something like "I bet at least half you use the word back too often" and I thought nope, not me, hardly ever use back. Yeah, right, there it was on Wordle. Along with character names and the word breathe. Really? Breathe???

    Thanks for sharing yours!
    erica

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  5. That's so smart! I used to do this in school for newspaper articles - it's amazing to see it used in this way. Thanks, Alicia!

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