I Write Like WHO Now?

Okay, writerly types…maybe you’ve already run across “I Write Like” – an analyzer app that scans through some sample of writing and tells you which famous writer you write like (based on the words you use).  But if you haven’t, it’s an interesting exercise.  Go try it.  I’ll wait.

(I’ll just go grab some coffee, brb)

So, are you happy with your results?  Surprised?  Perhaps now a little fluffed up because you write like…Edgar Allan Poe, Eudora Welty, or F. Scott Fitzgerald? Hey–good for you!  It IS pretty cool to at gain a little insight regarding what kind of vocabulary you share with some of the greats (at least in part), right?

I’ll confess.  I was surprised.  And disbelieving. I didn’t recognize the first author, nor the second, but the third was James Joyce.  All three were men.  I was thinking…why are they so different?  Why are they all men?  Maybe because I specifically try to capture the unique “voice” of each character, this may be the reason for the array of authors “I write like.”  Maybe because I analyzed stories that I’ve written across several years?  Puzzling.

So, I expanded this experiment by entering big portions of seven different stories just to see if I got the same result twice. I did not.  Here are the authors this analyzer says I write like:

Harry Harrison, Cory Doctorow, James Joyce, William Gibson, Stephen King, Chuck Palahniuk, and Kurt Vonnegut

So.  I don’t really know what to do with this.

I want to call bullshit.  Because I was expecting Alice Munro, or Barbara Kingsolver, or I dunno…at least one woman of seven stories since I, too, am a woman, and I write about them (kindly), and in their voices.  I was wondering if this analyzer is just a misogynist that doesn’t even have females as a possible match for language.  So, of course, I did a little web research, and it seems over on HuffPo it has been reported that even Margaret Atwood writes like Stephen King and just entering the word “not” 20 times comes up with Jane Austen.  So, you *could* get Jane Austen, I guess if you are into using “not” a lot.

What does this mean?  Nothing, really–it’s just code deciphering code by some man-made algorithms. I hope it doesn’t mean that I am hopelessly impacted by the “male gaze” of this society.  Because that’s just gross and hurts my teeth.  Maybe the men above write like women?  Maybe I’m just edgy or used “mud” or “star” or “please” once too often.

But, you know…still go try the analyzer and see what happens.  See if it causes you to reconsider anything about your writing style, or maybe just your own opinion of your writing style.

Personally, I feel like the challenge has been thrown down to see if I *can* write like one of my favorites.  From Flannery to Papa, the gauntlet has been thrown down!

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