In order to keep my teaching license, I am required to take (pay for) 6 credit hours before the license expiration date. I haven't left it until the last minute--this time--but am currently in a class right now. Ironically enough, it is all about online software. Woo Hoo! My forte, and relatively easy.
Don't think I'm getting off scot-free, I still having to pay for graduate credit because it has to be a FOR credit class from an accredited college/university. Luckily, going through our district professional development office takes a decent chunk off the price tage. But still. Because I have a Bachelor's already, I can only take UNLV graduate level classes through them.
Yay required Continuing Education. Let's make underpaid teachers pay to keep teaching. Ad infinitum.
But I digress.
If you know me at all, you'll know that I LOVE learning, so "making" me isn't a hardship. It's having to learn "X" on a schedule and pay for it--when I'd rather just go looking myself. Honestly, I can usually find better things out there than the average educator.
Which leads me to that awesome picture I have at the beginning of the post. You've seen these plastered all over social media, especially FB, where the troll your timeline to find your most popular words. (Don't lie and tell me you have never done this. EVERYONE has, even if they don't actually post it.)
It's called a Word Cloud and what it does is visually show you your most popluar words on your FB timeline. The bigger the word, the more you use it.
The downside of the FB apps that do this is that...it's FB. Not on your computer, and not your fiction writing.
Enter in a tool for children--not joking. A website I was asked to look into for my class, along with about ten others. I had to play with the software (all had free versions) and then explain how I'd use this in a class. It was such a hardship, I tell you. *insert sarcasm font*
Nope, Not joking with the name either.
This free online Word Cloud builder lets you simply copy and paste words right into a box, and voila! A Word Cloud.
The picture you see is my blurb from Amazon and Smashwords about Solomon Aleph: Aleph Series Stories Book One -- no, the title is not included in the cloud.
As it easy to see, Solomon is the largest word--pretty important since that's my hero's name, and title of the book. It is front and center. Jamie is my heroine and Weres are what I use instead of werewovles because there's more than just wolves in my stories. And those are the next two largest words. Once again, pretty damn important that I get those facts across to a reader, don't you think?
Would you want to read a book where you did not know the hero/heroine's names because it was left out of the blurb? I wouldn't.
Before plugging my blurb into abcya.com, I can promise I struggled with this blurb (don't we all) but I never once considered doing anything like this to see if my main points were mentioned often enough. I mean, how would I have done that previous to finding this software? *snort* probably counted by hand...with a red pen.
But once I saw this--SO many uses for us Indie authors began swirling, like:
Your editor hounding you about your newset "word" that you overuse? Plug an excerpt or three of your book into this and see if you do.
You just KNOW you have "those words"--the ones you can't find a synonym for, so you use them too often...but at the moment, you just can't seem to remember what they are. Plug your words in, and sit back while they appear in your own personal cloud.
You want to make sure you are getting your point across loudly enough? Drop it in, and see for yourself what word is largest.
See how Amazing this can be?
Now, it can't hold your entire manuscript at once. I'd say you're most likely going to be limited to half a page at a time.
But, here's the beauty. Just start at the beginning. Really.
Your next story, after sprinting and typing madly, when you're done for the day, throw it into the cloud maker. Most of us don't do 10K words a day, so I doubt you'd have to throw words more than six times or so, but What a Way to visually See your words and if they are headed in the right direction.
I mean, who Wouldn't want to see if they're going sideways from Day One? And this isn't only for newbie authors either. I can think of Many authors with lots of books under their belts who I wish would do this because they seem to have words or phrases used in Every. Book, Those cruches we all rely on...that often don't get fixed.
This is especially useful if you're feeling stuck, but have no idea why. Throw your words in the cloud and pick "Random"--there is nothing more freeing than you eyes visually seeing your words in an order that makes no sense. Words and sentences are patterns. Disturb those patterns, and you will see new worlds open up.
Because, honestly, look at my blurb's cloud, the third largest set of words: human, fight, someone, first, wasn't, even, decades, General. Now add in Solomon, Jamie, Weres.
Doesn't just looking at that visual, with it's layers, make you interested? *snort* It made me interested, and I wrote the thing.