I recently discovered this great site that creates beautiful word clouds from texts that users can submit. (Thanks to Emily St. John Mandel for the idea – she has a cloud of her most recent novel on her site.) It’s pretty cool. The size of the various words depends on the frequency with which they appear.
Here’s a cloud I generated a while ago, from the first part of my book. I did this before I embarked on my mammoth rewrite – it will be interesting to see whether the cloud changes much with all the recent revisions.
I really like the synthesis of aesthetics and unblinking number-crunching. The software offers, quite literally, a whole new perspective on what I’ve written. I may think I know what my book is about, but you can’t argue with computer analytics. It threw up a few surprises. For example (if you look to the far right of the cloud) I had no idea there was so much nodding going on. This may come in handy next time I swoop down on the text, red pen in hand. Nodders, beware!
By the way, I’ve recently added a new excerpt from the book to the site. It’s about a young Midwesterner discovering the delights of P.G. Wodehouse. Read it here.