Sunday, December 5, 2010

Fun with words...or another awesome Internet distraction

Do you need another awesome Internet distraction? Yeah, me neither, but this is waaay cool.

Tagxedo! (Thanks Criss for the link!)

Tagxedo is Wordle on steroids. I've played with Wordle and used it in my classroom. Last year, I had kids create a whole wall of Wordles out of their controversial issues papers. It stopped traffic in the hall for several days.

Oh, the possibilities I see with Tagxedo...

The following two clouds are made up of words from the first chapter of Sapphire Sins.

These were both created using Tagxedo's pre-loaded shapes, but you can upload any image and use it to create a word cloud. I've played with my face, my friends' faces, and my dog, and that was just messing around. Can you imagine what my students will create out of their papers on animal testing, gun control, smoking bans, urban sprawl, gay marriage, cloning, school uniforms, and drivers' licensing laws? I can't wait to find out, and I hope one or two of them will give me permission to share.

As a writer, the shaped word clouds made me stop and think about my first chapter in a different way. I haven't re-visited that manuscript in a while, and as I looked at the word cloud in a heart shape, I thought, "Wow, she really can't decide how to feel about the predicament in which she's found herself." The frequency and placement of the words highlighted my heroine's confusion.

I think I'm going to play with an abandoned manuscript. I stopped because I never could "hear" the characters in my head the way I did with Diana and Raphael. Maybe the word clouds will help me find them. If not, it'll still be a fun distraction on this snowy Sunday afternoon.

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