One of the best tools for analyzing writing is a concordance—and one of the best concordances out there is Wordle. The picture at the top of this article is, in fact, a Wordle word cloud using all the text from the Writers Don’t Cry columns. Beautiful, isn’t it? The perfect representation of the language I use in this column, with the bigger words being the ones I use most frequently. And I think it evokes exactly what I want it to! Aside from the overuse of the word “one.” And maybe I could cut down on the use of “just,” too. And also, while we’re at it, do I really use “like” that much? I mean seriously: you’d think I use it, like, every sentence or something!
But, back to the topic, aside from being pretty, world clouds are also super useful for writers interested in analyzing their writing. Particularly for those who want to analyze a novel. By looking at the relative size of character names and words you can learn all kinds of things about both your book and your writing style.
Getting Started: Wordify Your Book
Ready to discover your own language habits? Take your work-in-progress or a recently finished project—or even just your blog--and run it through the Wordle machine. Click randomize and fiddle with the controls until it’s in a format you find attractive and readable. Leave this window open for the analysis portion. Later, you can save it to the public gallery, or just use screen capture to save a picture of it, like I did.
How to Analyze Your Word Cloud
Congratulations! You now are the proud owner of a word cloud of your very own. Now, let’s start breaking that beautiful beast down to see what we can learn about your writing.