Revising Fun with Wordles

Some people hate revising, but I love it. I get excited when I’m able to make a character more interesting, tighten up a plot, get rid of unnecessary scenes, characters or details, and really make the words say what I want them to say. I also like to get a little “artsy,” and there are some fun ways to add a little creative time to your revising. Don’t believe me? Let me explain!

I was able to hear Harold Underdown, a well-known children’s book editor, speak at a past SCBWI conference in Idaho. I took copious notes on his editing and revising tips. One of my favorites tips turned into quite an obsession: creating “wordles” to take a more objective look at the specific words I use when writing. Say, for example, I want to check for repetitive words. I can easily use the “find” and “replace” options in Microsoft Word, which I often do, but if I want to have a little more fun, I make a wordle.

I go to, simply paste my text into the box, and click “create.” My wordle then appears, which is basically a graphic that is made up of the words I happened to use most often in that particular section of text. The most-often used word is the biggest, with other repeated words also appearing in gradually-decreasing sizes. The words are displayed in a variety of colors and fonts, and each time I click “randomize,” the design and the colors change. I loved this wordle, which I got by pasting the first chapter of my historical novel, “The Digger,” into the box on the website:



Fun! The font was kind of old-fashioned and eerie, and to me if perfectly captured the mood of the book.  And, best of all, I could see that the main character’s name, Cap, was the largest word in the graphic, which made sense to me. However, this also made me realize that I might want to check and see exactly how many times I had used his name and reduce that number if I felt like it got to be too much repetition for the reader. Making a wordle is great revising tool and it’s fun to use at the same time. So if you feel a bit bogged down when revising, take a break and make a wordle. You can save and print as many as you like. Have fun and keep writing (and revising)!



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