Thursday, August 18, 2011


I wanted to see what would happen if I made Deviations word clouds -- so I went over to Wordle. According to the website, "The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text."

I've combined the six word clouds into a single image here, but they can be viewed separately (at full size and crisper) on my Wordle gallery page.

The clouds make for a neat analysis. I especially like how the terms "Masari" and "Yata" -- the two main peoples of the series -- relate to each other across the volumes. "Yata" trumps "Masari" for almost the entire series, beginning as slightly larger in Covenant. That discrepancy increases in Appetite and increases yet more in Destiny. Both are enlarged in Bloodlines (the longest book in the series), but "Yata" still outshines "Masari." Both drop into the background in TelZodo (which, as the words show, focuses mainly on its title character, along with TripStone), but "Yata" is still significantly larger than "Masari." Only in Second Covenant does "Masari" gain in stature, to the point where its size matches that of "Yata" exactly (by my measurement). The clouds do a nice job of encapsulating that particular dynamic of the epic.

TripStone, the main heroine of the series, maintains a steady prominence through Destiny. That standing decreases slightly in Bloodlines, giving her the same emphasis as BrushBurn. The drama in Bloodlines is as much his as hers, given the disruptive influence of the character Jirado, whose name is the next-largest one in the cloud. Clearly, the action in Promontory takes center stage, contrasting with but not equaled by the drama unfolding in Crossroads (with its major players HigherBrook, Ghost, CatBird, and Gria). Even so, the place name of Crossroads (TripStone's village) is slightly larger than Promontory, a dynamic in itself.

TripStone's slightly decreased emphasis holds steady in TelZodo, but the title character clearly takes prominence. Taken within the context of the individual novels, "TelZodo" ranks the highest in the series. That has mainly to do with the book's narrative style. The other volumes are ensemble pieces, but TelZodo is a Bildungsroman, defined here as, "the story of a single individual's growth and development within the context of a defined social order."

TripStone vanishes by the time we get to Second Covenant, whose story is told by members of the new generation. Her name appears in the book, just not often enough to merit representation in the word cloud.

Destiny, a drug that can be considered a character in itself, sneaks into Covenant as one of the smallest words in the cloud. Its size grows considerably in Appetite and considerably more in its title volume, Destiny. It drops back down in Bloodlines, to smaller than it had been in Appetite. It drops out of the TelZodo word cloud entirely (despite the role that Destiny Farm plays in that book), but it roars back to life in Second Covenant. Not only does "Destiny" hold more within-novel prominence here than in any other Deviations book, but it outshines all of Second Covenant's sentient characters.

The Covenant, a religious system that is also a character in its own right, undergoes its own journey. Its small size in its title volume is deceiving; the religion, constantly in the background, drives the action. By the time of Appetite it has been destroyed and has shrunk in that volume's word cloud. It vanishes entirely from the word cloud for Destiny.

But it peeks back in for Bloodlines, achieving the same size it had possessed in Covenant. It barely makes a showing in the TelZodo word cloud, a tiny blip between "now" and "away;" and it appears again, matching its original strength, in Second Covenant.

The gods, absent from the word clouds for the first three volumes, stake their claim in the Bloodlines word cloud, stick around in unbeliever TelZodo's word cloud, and make their best showing in the word cloud for Second Covenant.

I could play with this every which way. Wordle's a neat tool for studying story dynamics.

Elissa Malcohn's Deviations and Other Journeys
Promote Your Page Too
Vol. 1, Deviations: Covenant (2nd Ed.), Vol. 2, Deviations: Appetite, Vol. 3, Deviations: Destiny, Vol. 4, Deviations: Bloodlines, Vol. 5, Deviations: TelZodo, Vol. 6 and conclusion: Deviations: Second Covenant.
Free downloads at the Deviations website (click here for alternate link), Smashwords, and Manybooks.



Proud participant, Operation E-Book Drop (provides free e-books to personnel serving overseas. Logo from the imagination and graphic artistry of K.A. M'Lady & P.M. Dittman); Books For Soldiers (ships books and more to deployed military members of the U.S. armed forces); and Shadow Forest Authors (a fellowship of authors and supporters for charity, with a focus on literacy).
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.


Post a Comment

<< Home