Want to waste some time? Go to Wordle and paste in something you’ve written. Wordle creates a word cloud displaying the words in your document according to how often you’ve used them. You can pick out any colors and fonts and layout you like. I’ve pasted the first chapter from Breaking the Silence (which you can read here if you like) into Wordle and created the above cloud. It’s definitely Laura’s story! Her five-year-old daughter, Emma, comes in a close second in this chapter, in which Laura’s father makes a deathbed request that she take care of a woman who is a stranger to her.
I can see how this could be a good tool to pick up overused words in my writing. I apparently use a lot of “eyes” and “hands”, at least in this chapter. My most annoying overused word is usually “winced”, and I’m glad not to see that here. My brother, Rob Lopresti, is also a writer and here’s what he wrote a while back in one of his blogs, which I found pretty funny:
First I check for the words I tend to overuse. They are usually the bits of physical punctuation that fit between lines of dialog, like frown, shrug, and sigh. (My sister Diane Chamberlain says that the characters in her novels tend to wince too much, which suggests that while being in one of my works is boring, being in hers is actually painful.)
So anyway, I can see how this tool could be useful in catching overused words, but more than that, I think it’s fun and the results are kind of pretty. Have some time to waste? Hop over to Wordle, paste in your latest words of wisdom. Even if they’re not pretty on the written page, they’ll look pretty on your monitor!