Seven Second Fiction

I’ve used a word cloud generator while revising a story, usually to make sure that certain problem words are under control (I’m looking at you, “felt” “looked” “was” …) It’s great tool, but then I realized that I could use it to actually make a story-poem (sort of.)

I used a short story I’d written recently for my critique group (we’ve been critiquing each other’s novels, but I think we were all feeling a little “first chapter fatigue” so I ventured into the land of shorter fiction.) I uploaded the full text of the story to Tag Crowd and then eliminated a few words that were inappropriate for my family friendly blog.

The story is called MUSE, and of course the characters names are evident immediately (Eli, Taylor, Wall, Morris.) The rest of the story is told only through the most used words, requiring a degree of reader participation unprecedented in fiction. A sort of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure.

One thing that’s cool about the word cloud version of the story is the way the human brain sees text in this form–not in a (roughly) linear fashion, as when the words are arranged in the normal way, but as an instant jolt of lexical caffeine.

Okay, I’ll humbly admit that the short story is much better than the word cloud version. But what if you’re in a hurry? It’s the perfect seven-second form of fiction.

tag cloud


Lexicon, by Max Barry, has turned me into a drug dealer-ish book pusher

Is it totally lame to review a book that’s been out for over a year? Well, I can’t help it. Lexicon has genius plotting and amazing characters, but the thing that makes me sigh with jealousy and admiration is the voice. I loved Max Barry’s prose style in Jennifer Government and Machine Man, but he’s reached new heights of awesome in Lexicon.

I’ve been accused of being a little drug dealer-ish about pushing this book on people, but it’s just so incredible that I can’t help it. It’s helped me lay off the evangelizing of How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, The Magicians by Lev Grossman, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, and World War Z by Max Brooks a little, but everyone needs a friendly neighborhood book pusher, right?

I’ve ordered extra copies of all of the above to lend to people so I don’t have to give them my personal copy and risk it not coming back. I need all of the above books close by so if I feel sad or discouraged in any way I can open any of them for a little dose of pure happiness. (Okay, that sounds worryingly druggy…)