Sunday, March 13, 2005

Exercise: chop it up, use a database

Take the disk version of your file. Save it to a new name -- perhaps "EXERDATA.TXT" -- as a plain text file. Close the original story and open EXERDATA.TXT. Use a search-and-replace routine to put a hard return after every word (or, if there are some names that are phrases, such as "Arthur Rex" or "Queen of the Sky", leave these phrases together and put a return after each). Save the file. Create an alphabetical list of the words you've used -- you can either sort the file from DOS (instructions later), or load them into a spreadsheet or database program and perform a sort there. If you want to use the DOS method: run, and change to the directory where the file is located. Enter this command:


Exit from DOS, and open the file EXERSORT.TXT. Interesting things will be revealed, such as the six different ways you spelled "Deirdre". You will realize how limited, or grandiose, is the story's vocabulary. You will see every single character's name, every place name. You will note how many times you have started sentences with the word "And".

-- Rachel Holmen

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