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I Write Like…

July 24, 2010

Many of you have probably already seen the “I Write Like” site and played with it.  Initially I wasn’t interested, because I didn’t think it would tell me anything interesting.  Well… I’m still not interested, and no, it didn’t tell me anything interesting, except perhaps that there’s nothing meaningful there to tell.  I “analyzed” nine different stories, and here were my results: one was like H.P. Lovecraft, one like Cory Doctorow, one like Ursula K. LeGuin, three were like James Joyce, and one each were like David Foster Wallace, Harry Harrison, and Raymond Chandler all three of whom I’ve never even heard of (although I should have heard of Harrison, since he’s a sci fi writer who’s story was the basis for the film “Soylent Green”).

If there were any remotely truthful grain to this silly little internet meme, I’d have to worry about myself.  Nobody reads James Joyce by choice – so writing like James Joyce is  hardly a compliment.  On the other hand… is it good that of my nine stories, four said I was like a sci fi, fantasy, or horror author?  I imagine… if I wrote a dozen more stories and “analyzed” them, I’d come up with at least a half-dozen more authors not already on this list. 

Of course… I suspect nothing but amusement was meant to be gained from this… I just take some things too seriously, I guess.

Enjoy!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 24, 2010 12:40 pm

    I had a different result for every flash piece I tried as well. I think what the software does is compare vocabulary and possibly common phrases. Now what would be a useful analysis is if they created something that could break down sentences into grammar pattern, word choice, rythem… of course, that would be a lot more work, and I don’t know if it’s possible.

    Still I think it ‘I write like’ was just meant to be something fun 🙂

    • July 24, 2010 2:51 pm

      Yeah, I know it was… (meant to be “fun”).

      And I agree: a real analysis would be frightfully difficult to program for. For one thing, you’d need a very powerful natural language process.

  2. July 24, 2010 12:59 pm

    I got two Cory Doctorow’s, a Dan Brown, and a David Foster Wallace.

    Alrighty, then.

    On the topic of style, I recently came across some talks by William Faulkner and a particular quote was pretty interesting to me:

    I think style is one of the tools of the craft, and I think anyone that—that spends too much of his time about his style, developing a style, or following a style, probably hasn’t got much to say and knows it and is afraid of it, and so he writes a—a style, a marvelous trove.

    I’ve mulled the style of stuff I’ve written quite often and, for me, it’s true that the stuff I’ve written that I consider to be the best was where my main goal was trying to convey and idea with little thought to the style. Those essays had a very definite style to them, but it seemed to arise more naturally out of the content.

    The Faulkner talks are an interesting listen: http://faulkner.lib.virginia.edu/browse

    • July 24, 2010 2:55 pm

      Very interesting quotes. I think there’s a lot of truth to what he’s saying. There’s nothing wrong with developing a “style”, and good style is important – but the story (or whatever it is you’re trying to say) trumps style.

      Thanks for the quotes, Clint! I’ll have to check out that site.

  3. July 25, 2010 2:19 am

    I haven’t tried the I write like. I’m not terribly good at following memes; and it sounded memish. However, I heard the Amazon receipt page is written like James Joyce 😉

    P.S. Raymond Chandler wrote (probably among other things) detective stories with Philip Marlowe as protagonist.

    • July 26, 2010 8:57 am

      Oh, it’s very memish, and that’s partly why I was reluctant to give it a shot. It was actually only after I saw Roger Ebert bashing it that I decided to find out what was worth Ebert’s ire.

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