Tuesday, March 20, 2012

wordle'ing the manuscript

At an AWP panel, my friend Colleen jotted in her notes that one thing to run your manuscript through before submission is a program such as Wordle--to see themes, etc.  Or, to discover words that might have been put on repeat a bit to urgently; my first attempt had back as large as body or one and like was larger then too.

This also led to a discussion of the simile, where one member of our collective reflected on what she'd been taught:
Simile is less immediate, less connective--by adding those extra words ("like," "as") it imposes distance between the vehicle and the tenor. In some ways, it calls attention to itself as a device and takes the reader out of the moment, prevents the very connection it's trying to make. Perhaps that can be useful, though? Perhaps that distance, that removal, that interruption is a desirable thing in some circumstances?
I had never really fully understood the aversion to simile my fellow MFAers had while actively in the program, but I can understand now; of course, I love the device, both metaphor and simile, and I adore personification, and beautiful verbs and lush language used with restraint.  So there you have it.  I do plan to scrub a few more likes from my ms., and probably body and one and maybe a night or two, but some of those words are so tender and right and shift in meaning, which is a critical experience of the reading.


Denise | Chez Danisse said...

An interesting use of technology. Wordle. I must look this up.

Jim Daniel said...

On www.txt2pic.com you can make more fun graphics with your text.