What’s a Wordle?

by Claudette Young

The humble Wordle has made the rounds for years. Poets use them to generate unexpected prompts to release twists of thought and word linkage. But, what about the novelist or short story writer? Or the screenwriter?

Can using just a simple device inspire new plots, twists, characters, etc. that would otherwise have remained deep within the shadows of the writer’s mind?

As a poet, I’ve enjoyed the benefits of a good wordle as much as the next writer. The prose process uses different mental muscles. The process is more convoluted, or so we think. Yet, if the writer takes a cue from the poet, unanticipated storylines can emerge from the shadows.

Definition–Wordle: Seven to ten unrelated words presented for use in writing. All words require use in the resulting project.

Example: heights, develop, blanket, clouds, normal, painting, stacks, energy, love

For the poet, these random words easily tell a story, for each word creates an image in the mind immediately. For the prose writer, the path to storyline needs more thought and vision. The generality of each word doesn’t lend itself to coupling with the others so quickly.

Here’s a fast sample of poetry to fit.

Hanging Ten

Breath whooshes from my lungs,

Again, a deep intake to capture

Energy carried within clouds,

Forming a blanket, rising almost

to the heights of expectation.

A normal person would stand here,

Cliffside ready, contemplating love,

Joy, happiness to fill the whole of me,

Instead of stacks of regrets prone

To develop into depths of depression.

Not a poem worthy of laureate status, perhaps, but good enough for purposes here. All the words were used, an image built, and a mood set. The wordle performed its function.

Yet, what of the fiction writer? How does she perform with wordle inspiration? Let’s see.

A Pleasure to Serve You

“As you can see by this chart,” Rafe said in his most idle tone, “we took time to develop a blanket solution to your overall package. After all, why leave bits of function outside the stacks?”

Rafe’s self-satisfied glance raked the perimeter of the conference table. He caught each pair of eyes before releasing the listener and moving on. Practice made perfect.

Before any could question or object, Rafe continued. “The energy saved in the one section,” his laser pointer indicated a green square box surrounded by red circles, “could save your group a minimum a one month’s expenses the first year of conversion.”

Appreciative grunts escaped the viewers before any could contain their surprise.

“Your normal operation costs, over the next five fiscal years could plummet by a third, while your profit margin could rise to heights you’ve never seen.”

He watched his new clients’ eyes widen. “Of course, those projections are for the entire package of upgrades to your whole system.” He shrugged and chuckled. ‘I know it seems I’m painting a very rosy picture here, but I love taking something mediocre and transforming it into something extraordinary.”

A big man at the end of the table, the CFO of this group, cleared his throat.

Rafe sent a gracious nod the man’s way.

“You do seem inordinately pleased with this solution of yours.” The man’s eyes narrowed as he studied the chart and the man standing in front of it. “You’ve tightened things up. I can see that, but where is the real savings and heightened profits you expect?”

“I’m glad you asked,” Rafe smiled. “Because this blanket approach requires specialized data storage, we inserted pockets of clouds to take all archival data and hold it aside from the active daily databases. That frees up necessary working space.”

He explained how this storage solution could interact as needed with all other databases while freeing up research time and cross-checking capability. By doing this, he assured them, time savings alone on the part of two departments could shorten man-hours on larger projects and effectively pass the savings on to sub-contractors.

“We noticed that one of your biggest outlays was in time-slippage on projects deadlines,” he concluded.

Frowns of concentration slid from many of the clients’ faces. The CFO nodded. “Overages and delays have plagued us for three years.”

Rafe knew when to let a client talk himself into falling in with a presented plan. “If you’d like, I’ll have some coffee brought in and you can talk amongst yourselves. Take all the time you need.” He smiled again and left the room.

Now, this little storyline has used all the words, set the scene, begun the plot, shown the traits of the principal character and set the reader on a path to her/his own conclusions. That’s pretty good for nine little words and a bit of maneuvering.

Did I plan that story? Nope. I had no idea where it was headed when I began. I had no plot in mind. I started with the title and the only thought in my mind was “someone’s going to get taken for a ride.”

This could just as easily work as the beginning of creative non—fiction piece about a business swindle on Wall Street.  Or in the government. Any large institutional structure would’ve worked as the one taking a ride to destruction.

And there you have it. Inspiration in a few words, allowed to foment for a couple of minutes in the mind. Place inspired creative thought onto paper or screen, and you have something new to work with, or you’ve jumped the hurdle labeled “Stuck” or “Blocked”.

To try your own hand at these little gems, go to the following link and grab a free Wordle Generator app.


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