I Write Like

Here’s another fun thing to do instead of actual writing.  It’s called the I Write Like analyzer.  Copy some of your deathless prose and paste it in, click Analyze and let the algorithm do its thing. 

The first several times I did it (yes, I’ve done this many, many times) I pulled some text from my most recent short story.  I Write Like told me I write like. . . JK Rowling.  I glanced at the copy and noted that the section I had chosen (a social worker has been attacked by a fighting dog) had short sentences and people speaking with exclamation marks.  That made sense. 

I pulled some text from Chapter One of my novel and found out I write like. . . Harry Harrison.  Okay, cool.  Sci fi novel to Golden Age sci fi writer.  I’ll take it. 

Then, just for fun, I analyzed two blog postings.  In one, I wrote like Stephen King.  In another, I blogged like David Foster Wallace.  That’s just weird. 

Then, last night, I started making stuff up.  Here’s what I put in: 

It was a dark and stormy night.  Rain lashed the windows and in the distance a dog howled, ululating like the spirit of a lost soul.  In the slim, rectangular house that thrust up from the sand like a shard of redwood crystal, the children huddled under one blanket, the bluish neon light of the blackberry illuminating their pallid quotidian faces.  Fresca, the eldest, cupped the device in her broad farmer’s hands. Sanjo, the baby, only just three, yawned, and yawned again, leaning against his sister Pumpernickel’s plump shoulder. 

“When will we all meet again?” Pumpernickel wondered, staring dazzle-eyed through the fluid silvery glass at the spears of rain beyond.  “And will it all be worth the pain?” 

Fresca’s blunt fingers flittered over the device’s keys, which were the size of a baby’s teeth.  “On Tuesday,” she said.

And it said I write like
Vladimir Nabokov 

(Yeah? It was the Pumpernickel, I think.)

I wrote: 

The lounge and grill, open since 1963, was six and two-tenths miles from Census Tract 047 or what the atlas referred to as the city center.  Seventy-three pink plastic flamingos, many faded by sun and age to translucent white, filled the grassy area, eight feet by ten that separated the rippled parking lot from the porte cochere and the heavy double doors.  Frank Jones Senior had built the place and run it for thirty-seven years before retiring and moving to Bali where he meditated on a beach in a Speedo and carved demon figurines for gullible tourists.  His daughter Trixie assumed management of the lounge.  At forty-two, Trixie, who stood five feet and two inches tall and weighed one hundred three pounds, was an attractive woman who had spent too much time in the sun.  Her face looked like the same fine-grained leather as the Coach bag she wore slung over her shoulder.  Trixie favored four inch stiletto heels, backless slings in the summer, and clinging knit dresses in primary colors. 

And it told me I write like:
Stephen King 

Oh, my gosh, it is kind of like Stephen King. 

So, instead of digging in and figuring out why you’re suddenly stuck in Chapter Thirteen, try this!  You can waste hours, it’s fun, and you can rationalize that you are learning about your writing style.

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9 Responses to I Write Like

  1. Chad Hull says:

    This will be my new time killer. Sounds like fun

  2. Marion says:

    Great fun! World class time killer.

    Have you read anything by Joe Hill? If so, what did you think?

  3. Terry Weyna says:

    I was remarkably consistent: all of my memoir pieces were said to be like H.P. Lovecraft. Now, I know there have been some hideous monsters in my past, but Lovecraft? And I’ve never used the word “eldritch” in my writing, ever.

    I put in one piece of fiction and got Stephen King. I think I’m on a horror role, even though I’m not writing horror.

    I tried one book review, and it said I write like Margaret Atwood. I don’t know if that’s good or bad for a review.

  4. Marion says:

    Lovecraft, really? It must be less about the words and more about the length or structure of you sentences. I have to admit, Lovecraft does not spring to mind when I thoink about your memoir. Although that piece you did about the spring break when the Elder Gods showed up in Crystal Lake was quite entertaining.

    Atwood I’ll have to think about.

  5. Chad Hull says:

    I got Lovecraft as well for my blog post. Then I put in some fiction and got Dan Brown… I knew I was bad, but not that bad.

  6. Marion says:

    I can only conclude that the coders behind I Write Like don’t know who HP Lovecraft was. Chad–don’t be bummed. It’s probably parsing sentence structure. There is nothing inherently bad about Brown’s sentence structure; it’s the content of the sentences that is lame. Take heart!

  7. Lisa Mann says:

    Fascinating and disturbing. Do I really write to type? And if so, why is my type Cory Doctorow…5 out of 8 samples! (I got 1 Lovecraft, too).

  8. Marion says:

    You’ve got to stop writing about “ichor” in your press releases, Lisa!

  9. Marion says:

    And, do you read Cory Doctorow? I don’t think I have.

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