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What’s in a Word?

A good friend of mine pointed to an article on Amazon. The purpose was to discuss a cool program designed to show the most common words in a novel: the size dependent upon the frequency of the word. I was skeptical, but ran my pieces through the “machine” to see what came out. The result, while very neat, also told me a lot about my writing. As in everything in life, I think we tend to fall into a routine. Writer’s are no different. I know I fell into writing what came easy. In fact, before this year, I often wondered why writers would complain about it being hard. For me, the creation of a story still feels natural. But pushing for better prose is very hard. It’s like going to the gym. It hurts and questions your willpower, but the result is always promising.

My first adventure this year was through the Odyssey program I have mentioned earlier. What I find fascinating is that, when you are open for improvement and change, the opportunities come in the most unsuspecting places. Who would know I would actually learn a lot about my writing through a simple program online?

My mother, who teaches 2nd grade, has a “trash bin” posted on a bulletin board for words that her students need to throw away. I think I need to put that on my office wall. Words I need to add to that wall? “Looked” and “Eyes” most definitely need to go there. I am disappointed to see the word “like” so big in each of the pictures. It like totally like makes me like look like a valley girl! Not all words were bad to see. I was excited to see theme words like “dark,” “Lost,” and “hell” appear in The Lord of Nightmares. One shock was seeing the name Jasper appear bigger than Nightmares. I would think the Nightmares had more “airtime,” but, apparently, Jasper demands his own space.

In The Curse of Atlantis, I see “king” and “Atlantis” and “horse.” I find it interesting the word “know” is so large. I guess that could be a bad thing, but I wonder if it does speak to the characteristic of Nicias. What also shocked me is how big “Sebastian” appears for a character who was only prevalent in maybe a third of the novel. But, that is so fitting because he really is the catalyst that moves the story along.

I even ran the machine on this blog. No surprises here. I mean, if a writer’s blog didn’t have the words “writer,” “book,” and “Story” pretty big, then it really needs to be closed down. I was fearful to see the word “I” nice and big, but am glad I don’t even see it small. Maybe I’m not as self-centered as I thought. :)

Besides being a fun adventure, I think I can learn a lot about my writing through this activity. I can see into those pieces of my process that are too close for me to critique on my own. The readers and editors I have who do not shield their opinions and advice are invaluable. I think this is yet another avenue in the pursuit of growing as a writer. Best advice I could give to other writers: keep pushing and learning. This makes me want to take more writing classes to see what other areas I can strengthen.