The above are both ‘word pictures’ created at Wordle. Basically, you pump the text of something you’ve written into the program, it identifies the most used words, and turns them into a picture, as seen. The top one is derived from the text of my short story ‘The Story Eater’, out now in the Iris: Abroad anthology. The second is from my novella Hiram Grange and the Nymphs of Krakow. They’re interesting little things, but they highlight something rather curious. See if you can spot it?
Back. It’s back. Really. Back. Most of the biggest words are character names – Hiram, Iris, Panda, Kedra, Bothwell, etc. As you’d expect. But scan again. In both Wordles, the word ‘back’ sticks out a mile. It’s most obvious in the Hiram one, but scan left from the word ‘Vikram’ in the top one, and you can’t miss it.
What the hell?
All writers have things like this, words and phrases they keep throwing in without seeing, that they need to keep to weed out. For a long time, I was forever causing characters to spin or have spun, and didn’t notice for years until one proof reader was good enough to point it out to me. Were it real life, the characters would have made it obvious by vomiting copiously a chapter or two after being introduced.
And now, in my two most recent published tales, here comes ‘back’ to taunt me. What’s up with that? Is it my fault? Why do I keep putting things behind characters, so that they have to spin round to look back at them?
Note to self with current novel. Sometimes, things can be in front of a character without damaging the story in any way shape or form…