Friday, January 22, 2010

Wordling Poetry

I've discovered a cool new trick to do with Wordle, my favorite online word cloud generator, that can help with titles, coined words and other phrases you might need for a story.

On Wordle's Create Page, paste in the text box a poem that you like and/or that somehow relates to your story and click go. In the cloud screen, set up the layout to be horizontal with rounder edges, and choose a non-fancy font option like the one I have below (Scheherazade.)

Here's what e.e. cummings's poem Somewhere I have never traveled looks like once I Wordle it (click on any word cloud to see larger version):

From the resulting word cloud, I can see the words of the poem aligned differently, and begin to pick out some eye-catching phrases, such as always roses (great title for a sweet romance, especially if roses are a key symbol in the story), small beyond (maybe there's something to the left of the great beyond), and voiceclose (how close is he? Voiceclose.)

If I don't see any phrases that I like in the resulting wordle, I can reshuffle all the words by clicking on layout and choosing the re-layout with the current settings option.

Here's another Wordled Poem, this time Shakespeare's Sonnet XXIX:

From this one pops phrases like outcast love (nothing like a leper for a boyfriend, eh?) trouble hymns (the sort you sing when the world isn't being especially kind), and hopegate (there's a new synonym for heart.)

One more, this time using Lines on the Mermaid Tavern by John Keats:

Lots of cool word phrases in this one: deadsign (you mystery writers should be able to take that one to the bank), fineglory (perfect description for baby blond hair), mermaid gone (that sounds like a fantasy speed of some kind -- she was out of there so fast she was mermaid gone), underneath souls (what is underneath the soul, anyway?), smack Paradise (instant image of an addict flophouse), winebold (he wasn't beercrazy, he was winebold.)

I didn't use poems that were especially lengthy or overly wordy to generate these clouds; the Shakespearean sonnet is only 14 lines. If you're not a fan of poetry, of course you can also use prose, letters, word lists or anything else you prefer (any imagery-rich text will probably give you a neat wordle to work with.)


  1. That is a neat way to come up with title possibilities.

  2. Nifty. I can see some interesting art pieces come out of that too. Mod-podge ahoy!

  3. This is totally cool! Wow...

  4. That is totally fun.

  5. Mossy Mermaid- sounds like an Irish Pub. Very fun. :)

  6. NICE! I love not just the idea, and your word clouds, but of course your commentary on them. :)

    I did it with a bunch of Yeats (love him) and found it inspiring. Now to try to find something actually title worthy.

  7. This is a great idea, especially to come up with story ideas.

  8. I always have to be so careful when I click on anything you post. You have a way of knowing what kinds of things I just love to spend time playing with ;-)

  9. Anonymous1:13 AM

    all for the love of words...I think I'll visit the site myself..sounds interesting. I have those poetic word magnets that stick on your fridge and can be rearranged each day for inspiration...again..all for the love of black print on white paper.

    i also hate when you buy a magazine and it essentially sucks. maybe the next issue will be better.


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