Word Clouds and Sestina Writing Prompt

I am working on a full-length manuscript of poems currently titled Accumulation on the Door Hinge. In this collection, I use “orange,” the fruit or the color, as an accumulative objective correlative for my emotional and psychic state. You can read more about it here in Michael Meyerhofer’s interview with me (http://atticusreview.org/flinty-lyricism-an-interview-with-tom-holmes/) at Atticus Review.

I decided to make a word cloud out of the words in the manuscript, so far, just to see what’s going on. I had to make three of them at Wordle because I needed some form of accuracy since “orange” is in most of the poems and there is an eight-page poem that repeats “even now” every fifth line. So I needed versions without those words.

In the process of doing this, I thought up a writing exercise or writing prompt. The six most frequently occurring words in the manuscript can be used as the end words in a sestina. (Or maybe you can use the six least frequently occurring words.) Anyway, this is an easy and meaningful way to pick the end words. I might not use the six most frequent words, but I’m sure I’ll use six from the top ten. Also, the bigger the word in the cloud, the more often it appears in the text, and the smallest words occur the least. For whatever reason, the cloud considers contractions, such as “ll” or “ve” as in “I’ll” or “we’ve,” as words, but those can be dismissed.

So here’s a word cloud with all of the words in my manuscript. Note: there is “Orange” with a capital “O” and “orange” with a lower case “o.” “Orange” occurs 80 times in the 54-page manuscript.

The Door Hinge Word Cloud (all words)Here’s a word cloud that keeps all the occurrences of “orange” but removes the “even now” occurrences from the text.

The Door Hinge Word Cloud (no Even Now)

And here’s a word cloud of the manuscript with no occurrences of “orange” or “even now” in the text.

The Door Hinge Word Cloud (no orange or even now)Apparently, I have a lot of similes in manuscript 🙂

Anyway, you should give this a try with your manuscript. There are plenty of word cloud generators out there. I chose Wordle because it has multiple cloud shapes.//



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June 2014


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