Cloud Editing: See Your Story With Different Eyes
Perhaps you'd like to make sure your work is passable before you bring it to a critique group, or post it online somewhere, but you've reread it so many times you're not confident about the decisions you make.
Try a little cloud editing.
Cloud editing will not replace spelling and grammar checks. You still ought to read your work aloud to yourself (a great way to catch stilted language). And it's helpful to put your manuscript away for a few weeks and read it with new eyes (on paper, if possible, since we often miss errors when reading from a screen).
In cloud editing, all you do is copy a passage from your manuscript--whether a page or a whole chapter--and paste it into the text box on Wordle.net. Within a few moments, a beautiful graphic will appear containing all the words you pasted. The words (in random order) will be all different sizes, depending upon how often it was used in your sample.
Wordle gives you the option to change the font, color and arrangement of the graphic, so you can tailor it how you like. The clouds at the top and bottom of this post were created with identical words (the first chapter of my novel).
The word clouds can be saved to your computer with a screen shot (instructions in the frequently asked questions), printed out (imagine framing your writing), or posted in the online gallery.
The greatest value of the cloud, besides playing with your words, is to notice words you hadn't realized were so repetitious. Grab a thesaurus and find some substitutes. You'll notice that I use the word "eyes" quite a bit. I'll rework my chapter, and make a second word cloud to compare the results.
You may notice some of the smaller words in your cloud are especially descriptive, and decide to use them more frequently. Best of all, it's free.
How might you try to use it?