I Write Like

I Write Like

This was a fun one!

Thanks to Sassy who started this

thread

in the Amazon Kindle community.

It alerted me to a website called

I Write Like

It’s a cool idea, and has apparently caught the eye of some famous authors as well.

Here’s the idea:

You put a sample of your writing into the site.  The site compares your writing to famous authors, and tells you which one your writing most resembles.

Regardless of how well it works, I wanted to try it.  I like writing in different styles…I do that in the humor/fiction pieces I do here.

I gave it a few paragraphs of some of the different pieces that have been on this site (and in other places, but they have all been here) to see what it would say.

When I gave it this selection from Alice in Kindleland:

Alice was beginning to get very tired of waiting in line with her sister at the bank, and having nothing to do. She felt very cross with herself for having left her book at home. Once or twice she had peeped into the cellphone her sister was using, but it only had pictures on it, “and what use is a picture without conversations?”

Suddenly, a White Reader ran close by her. There was nothing so remarkable in that, nor was it so unusual to hear it say, “Oh, my e-books and Whispernet! I’m late!” Alice had heard talking e-book readers before, and had always found the mispronunciations off-putting, because she was very careful about “pronounciations” herself, as Alice said it.

However, when she looked closely at the Reader’s homescreen, she saw that one of the entries was in bright purple letters. “Oh my, ” thought Alice, “I have never seen color on an e-reader before.” The words said Click Me. Alice thought back over all of the Internet privacy lessons she had learned in school, and she could not recall anything about not clicking on purple letters.  Alice was so very bored, she clicked on it.

It said I wrote like David Foster Wallace (author of Infinite Jest).  Of course, I don’t know if Lewis Carroll is even an option…they use three samples of the original author’s work.

I also tried my Sherlock Holmes parody, Doctor Watson’s Blog:

There are times when I’m not quite sure what I should post here.  I’m a pretty normal person, happily married, a doctor in private practice.  True, I’m a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, and did sustain a leg injury there, but I’ve already written about that.

However, regular readers will know that my best friend is not at all ordinary.

I’ve known Sherlock Holmes since college when we were room-mates.  While I was studying medicine, Holmes could have been a case study for several papers, should I have had the need and inclination.

He is a substance abuser, with his arms showing the marks of needles employed both in the injection of cocaine and morphine.  These two substances may seem contradictory, one increasing activity and the other suppressing it.

Score!  That came out as Arthur Conan Doyle!  Yes!

Then I tried my pulpish horror parody, “Night of the Hungry Well-Read” or “Attack of the AmaZombies”

AmaZombies.

I recall when the name seemed the flimsiest bit of whimsy, a felicitous appelation for a harmless addiction. I fear, now, that it will be the end of us all.

As I sit here, alone in the last library in the world, I can no longer deny that my time, and that of the world I once knew, is short.

I apologize, stranger, for the curious method in which this journal is written. It would take a steadier hand than that of this old academic to etch with acid on metal a clear missive. Even through my improvised protective raiment, my eyes water from the by-products of the writing process. At least, I prefer to believe that is the cause.

My lord…has it only been three scant months since this all began? It was then that Jimmy, a first-year student in my Astronomy 101 course at the university, brought me his observations. He claimed to have seen a “distortion” in the sky, while doing his study time in our celestial observatory. We employ an experimental telescope with lenses of unique property…one of my own design. I would have dismissed his concerns out of hand, had not my daughter insisted that I give them a second review. To humor her, and her innocent affection for the lad, I turned my full attention to the fateful words.

Double score!  It said I wrote like H.P. Lovecraft…and that is who I was trying to stylistically evoke!

I was practically dancing around the room (you know, if I gotten off the couch.  I might have gotten up, but the dog was on me).  😉

My Significant Other (SO) kidded me about being excited that I was a good copycat, but I am proud of that.  It’s a skill.  🙂

Interestingly, when I pasted one in which I wasn’t imitating (Lose the lion):

Mr. Bowdler: “Welcome, Mr. Baum, have a seat.”

Baum: “Thank you.  I understand you have the results of the test readings?  I’m very excited to hear them.”

Bowdler: “Well, we’re very excited to present them to you, Mr. Baum.”

Baum: “You can call me Lyman.”

Bowdler: “Would you mind if I called you Frank?  That’s your middle name, right?”

Baum: “Um…sure, I guess that’s okay.  I know Lyman’s kind of unusual.”

Bowdler: “It’s not only that…unusual can be fine.  It’s just that Lyman sounds like ‘Lie-man’, and our research groups indicated it made them uncomfortable.”

Baum: “That’s funny, I never had anybody say that to me before.”

it told me I wrote like Kurt Vonnegut.

My offspring informs me that the site (or a similar one) is available through Facebook, and that Vonnegut seems to be the default.  I wonder if his being American and fairly contemporary has anything to do with it?

According to this

AP article

the programmer, Dmitry Chestnykh partially based it on keywords, which might be why my parodies worked.  There are also only about fifty authors in the system, so a particular author might not get a result correctly identifying her or himself…apparently, Melville was analyzed as being like Stephen King.  Oh, and Lady Gaga’s Alejandro was like Shakespeare.

This kind of content/style analysis will, I think, be increasingly utilized.  Let’s say a publisher has an author of a particular genre that does well…paranormal romance featuring vampires.  That publisher gets three submissions from unknowns.  They might go with the one that was most like the successful author.

With more analysis than we get on the site, it would be possible to suggest specific changes.  You hire somebody to write a new Zorro novel.  The analysis might suggest longer sentences, more adjectives, fewer commas, shorter words…all kinds of possibilities. 

Could it eventually lead to computer-generated fiction?

Well, it’s not like people haven’t tried…

I quite enjoyed The Policeman’s Beard is Half-Constructed, which was supposedly poetry written by a computer program.  While there may have been really significant editing for effect, it was amusing.  🙂

One more thing: I did run one validity check on the site, by pasting the same samples in more than once…and did get the same author results.  That at least shows that it isn’t random. 

So, you might want to give it a try….who do you write like?

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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4 Responses to “I Write Like”

  1. Candace Says:

    That’s pretty cool! I posted 3 different blog posts of mine, though, and got 3 different results: David Foster Wallace, Stephen King, and Cory Doctorow. I’ve never read anything by the first or third, guess I’d better. I was puzzled because I think my style of writing is fairly consistent no matter what I write–it’s sort of matter-of-fact, somewhat journalistic, a little humor here and there, changes in sentence structure so it’s not boring, but–to me–my writing always seems about the same and I have had people say they can tell something is written by me. I guess I need to do a larger sampling. I don’t try to emulate anyone.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Candace!

      That’s interesting! I suspect the topics may have had something to do with the analysis. It would be fun to submit several samples from the same famous author and see if they were identified each time. 🙂

  2. Candace Says:

    Yes, I was thinking of that, too…although, as you say, there are only 50 authors represented so you have to make sure it’s one of those.

  3. Kindle Worlds: Amazon mainstreams fanfic | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] written in the style of public domain (not under copyright) works…and was really pleased when a site that matches your style to famous authors’ styles did say I wrote like those […]

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