A new form of hobby art for me is generating word clouds by pasting some of my short stories into word cloud generators like this one.

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes.

So the more frequent a word is, the more prominent it is depicted. I don’t know if you’re already familiar with this fun toy. (You’ll need Java..) This is a word cloud of a text o’ mine.

I got to know it during a seminar on computer linguistics and narratology (“story science” ^^). I have been using computerized methods to analyze literary texts in a few instances now. Even if it does not particularly help you with your resaerch, it’s at least an interesting change of perspective. If you want a little more than just horse around with word clouds, I recommend TAPoR (Text Analysis Portal for Research). It’s totally free and they have multitude of tools for you to explore. For the one text I used it for, a paper on Franz Kafka’s “Der Bau” (“The Burrow”), I merely had a quantity analysis, but it can do much more, i.e. show you how words occur in relation to each other.

Here is a list of what it can do. It can also be helpful as a writer, you might discover that you use certain words until they’re essentially meaningless within your texts. Or maybe not. Play around!