Monday, January 24, 2011

What is Wordle? Ask Guest Blogger, Dale Mayer

Please help me welcome back my friend and fellow author, Dale Mayer. You may or may not remember that Dale is one of the finalists in the Writing With The Stars contest. There were ten finalists in the beginning, and now there are four, and the winner gets a contact with Kensington. Dale is a single mother of four and she's an excellent writer, so please take a moment and vote for her. She's here today to tell us about a few gadgety things she's discovered to help her recognize her overused words and other useful things. So without further ado, here's Dale:

As a writer there are many tools available to us to give us what we need to make us the best we can be. However, there are some lesser known programs that are just plain fun. Some of my favorite of these unique programs are generator sites. One of my favorites is:
WORDLE - Off their own website, the creators of Wordle consider this a toy. It generates ‘word clouds’ from text that you give it. The clouds give the words that show up the most in your text more prominence. These clouds can be tweaked with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The word clouds you create from this program are yours to keep. They are printable, savable and or however you like. But, you say, why do I care about a Wordle? There are practical and creative uses for a Wordle. Let’s start with the practical.

•You can enter the text you want into this program. So enter your first scene – your work-in-progress– in its entirety. Then create a Wordle. Look at it. Is it what you expected? Take a close look at the size of the words. Are some of them huge? Those are the words that you have used the most often in your work. Did you know that you’d given those particular words that much prime time in your manuscript? Are they relevant words or those meaningless filler words we often use too much: that, apparently, or how about very.

•It will show you the overuse of certain words, the frequency of words and by the same measure – the words that only show up rarely. That in itself is valuable. The most prominent words will show up huge and others go smaller as they are used less often. It’s really fun when a theme shows up in your work that you hadn’t recognized. It was written in but you hadn’t seen it in your own words – until now.

•The Wordle example here is actually my website. In this way, I can see the message I’m sending and people are receiving in a unique way. It’s certainly not necessary to do this but it’s a great way to check how you are marketing yourself.

There is also a creative benefit to using this program.

•There is nothing quite like seeing your story show up in a visual to stir the creative juices. The pictures are often incredibly inspiring and will appear in many different forms. It often you can sentences or even a story to from the image.

A second and very similar program is called TAGXEDO. This program is like an upscale version of Wordle. I like both programs and use the differences to suit my needs. With Tagxedo you can do more customization of the end result.

Some of the customization allows you to remove common words, combine related words, combine identical words, normalize or moderate the frequency that words show up. Also there are visual themes that you can have your words turned into. It offers more customization than Wordle and it doesn’t matter – I love them both.

These are just toys but ones with both a practical and visual affect on our creativity and besides...they’re fun!

Me go vote!


Tonya Kappes said...

Voted! Good luck! I love wordle. I make one for each one of my novels. I think it's so fun!

Kari Lee Townsend said...

I voted too. Good luck :-)

Thanks for the great post. I've never heard of wordle but I can't wait to check it out.

Katt said...

Yup, my vote's in...
but dangit, my computer won't let me play with Wordle...
My sister used it with all our sirnames to create the coolest cover for the family tree book she made for all of us at Christmas. Awesome!

Dale Mayer said...

Hi Tonya

I was using Wordle for smaller projects like a chapter, website etc. It's such a great inspiration. I have several poems I'm going to throw in there as well - it always shows me something new and different.

Thanks for voting too!

Dale Mayer said...

Hi Kari,

Thanks for voting! And for the best wishes. Lol. If you've never had a chance to play with Wordle, give it a try. It's very visual and I find it shows themes in our writing quite nicely.


Dale Mayer said...

Hi Katt,

Thanks for voting too! You ladies are so supportive. That's too bad that Wordle won't let you play! I never thought about doing something like what your sister did. I create calendars every year for family and friends - I have to remember that. It's a great idea!

Cassy Pickard said...

Dale: This is great! You have me now thinking about my Wednesday post and how to build on your great launch. Have voted!! Best to you and THANKS for joining us today. This is superb.

Dale Mayer said...

Hi Cassie,

Thanks for voting! I'm glad you like today's blog. Wordle has always been a fun way to ease the pain of edits for me. Gives me a fresh perspective for when I put on my editor's hat!

I'm sure your next blog will be as superb as always - no worries there.

Dale Mayer said...

I don't see Liz yet, and I'm up way too early for me today, but I wanted to say thanks for inviting me here today!

You ladies are always so supportive and friendly that it's such a pleasure - so thanks!

Liz Lipperman said...

I'm here. You know I voted several days ago. I love the story and I want you to win so badly. How cool would that be for you to win a publishing contract?

I was busy this morning listening to my first radio interview. I can't wait to share it with you.

Until your post, I had never heard of wordle, and like some of the others said, I can't wait to try it.

As always, it's fun to have you on the blog, and I appreciate the time. People have no idea how many irons you have in the fire right now. Fingers crossed for that win.

Dale Mayer said...

Hi Liz,

I knew you wouldn't be far away! Wouldn't that be great if I won a publishing contract. Alternatively, getting published because of this contest would also be quite acceptable :P

And wow on your first radio interview - way to go Liz!

Enjoy Wordle - I do!

Martie said...

I voted and also read your excerpt on Edie's site
It really grabs you!

I love the idea of using Wordle for a creative spark. Fixin to go use it on my blurbs!

Lindsay said...

And again voted. Good luck.
My computer said it couldn't find TAGXEDO. Of course all I did was click on the hyperlink and didn't ask for directions. Typical male.

Laura Morrigan said...

Wow! Very cool, Dale!
I'm thinking there are oodles of uses for this program!
"oodles" now there's a word you don't very much, huh?

Dale Mayer said...

Hi Martie,

Thanks for checking out the posted excerpt! I'm so happy you liked it. I'm still not that comfortable with posting my work so publicly. You'd think after all these rounds in the contest I'd be an old hand at it but...

Do try wordle for your blurbs. It's interesting the visions and themes that jump out at you.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Dale Mayer said...

Hi Laura!

I love the word 'oodles.' Such a creative expression. There's tons of uses for wordle too. Give it a go. You might be surprise.

Being as visually creative as you are, I'm sure it will trigger sparks in your own processes.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Donnell said...

Dale, I love these types of programs. Off to try it now, and I think I've already voted. I need you to keep me in line. I'm vote challenged! Let me know, and thanks for a fabulous blog!

Edie Ramer said...

It's funny seeing my name from your website. lol

I've tried Wordie or something similar, but for the most part I like to let it flow and hope that I catch overused words or my CPs do.

Mary Martinez said...

I'm off to vote as soon as I'm through commenting!

Nice to have you back at the M&M, Dale.

I've never heard of a wordle either...

Great post.

Dale Mayer said...

Hi Lindsay!

Thanks for the vote! Love the male comment. Aren't they bad on directions? I have three sons and they'll just the same.

Put the word in the search engine if you're having trouble.

It's worth the time to find it.


Dale Mayer said...

Hi Donnell,

I love that 'vote challenged'comment. I'll contact you before this round is over to make sure you've got your vote in.

I'm hoping I'll have to repeat that process in the next round!

Enjoy wordle!

Dale Mayer said...

Hi Edie,

I'm trying to get your name out there whenever I can. That you've put up excerpts of my manuscript that's in the contest, makes it that much easier.

Wordle isn't for everyone. I love it because it's fun!

Dale Mayer said...

Hi Mary!

Thanks so much for going to vote - it's much appreciated!

Wordle is fun. You'll know if it's something you'd enjoy fairly quickly. It's great from a creative point of view too.


Lindsay said...

Sound the trumpets. Beat the drums. I actually followed directions. I found the site.
I've got both bookmarked. And did that without directions.
There may be hope for me yet.

Dale Mayer said...

Woohooo Lindsay!

Now have fun with it!

Nice triumph to start the week out.