21 July 2010

I Write Like...

It’s been all over the blogosphere. It’s been on Facebook. It’s been on the news. I think it probably was delivered on a silver tray to Queen Elizabeth herself.


I Write Like is the newest "it", and writers everywhere are flocking around "it" to check "it" out. In case you have been living in a cave the last few weeks, let me explain it ("it") to you.

I Write Like uses an algorithm (which is geek speak for something to do with numbers, I think) to analyze text pasted into a box on the website. Within seconds it comes up with a nifty little badge that tells the world what famous (or in some cases, not so famous) author whose writing yours compares to.

According to the I Write Like Blog, the algorithm is similar to that used in spam filters. It recognizes certain words (though, unlike spam filters, these don’t necessarily start with a "V" and end with "iagra"). In addition, it looks at such things as the number of words per sentence, usage of punctuation and so on.

While it is amusing, I Write Like is hardly accurate, as many authors have discovered over the last few days. I’ve seen Facebook updates where the author is thrilled/terrified to have discovered that they are writing like Dan Brown. I have read articles where famous authors are being told they write more like other famous authors, then like themselves. And apparently no matter what you write as long as it’s got a few of the Harry Potter character names in it, you "write like JK Rowling".

Personally I have pasted in snippets from several WiPs (they all got different "likes" – ranging from H.G. Wells to David Foster Wallace to Kurt Vonnegut. Interestingly, I always get James Joyce when I paste something in Norwegian… I had no idea Joyce wrote in Norwegian…). I also tried pasting in a blog post or two, and it threw me off my chair when my Monday rant about my many WiPs earned me an "I Write Like William Shakespeare" badge. How that happened, I have NO clue…

Anyway, as has been noted by wiser folks than me, I Write Like is not particularly accurate or useful, but it sure is entertaining. To prove this, I have the following to share:



There once was a little spider. He carefully spun his web, tightening every hole, making the web both beautiful and strong.

His web was his greatest pride. His ambition was to make a web that would never break.

He spun and he spun, he weaved and he weaved.

But every time he thought he had accomplished his task, he would see dark clouds form in the horizon, and he knew what would come.

The rain never failed to break his beautiful web.

Drip, drip. Those first few drops would only get caught in the web like a fly, and they hung there making the web even more beautiful than before. Sometimes the little spider would admire the drops, and hope that the rain would not become heavier, so that his web would hold.

Unfortunately, this was never the case.

Drip, drip, drip. With each drop the rain got heavier and heavier.

Finally, the web did break, and the spider was forced to start over again.

One day the spider was tired of making new webs all the time.

He decided to move to a more secure location.

He climbed into a pipe, up, up, up the pipe he went, and finally he saw light in the other end of the tunnel.

It was a large space, more than enough for a beautiful web, and it even had handy little nooks and crannies where the spider could fasten his web.

He spun and he spun, he weaved and he weaved.

The web grew larger each day, and more beautiful than anything the spider had ever made. He was more proud of this web than of any of his previous attempts.

For three whole days the spider worked on his new web, and he started to believe that finally he had managed to make an unbreakable web. He was walking along one of the threads of his web – directly where the pipe he had come up from met the white surface that now was nearly covered with his beautiful web. All of a sudden the spider was startled – he heard a sound. A shadow fell over him, and he run to cover. It was no cloud, but all the same he could hear a strangely familiar sound. Drip, drip.




This silly doodle I wrote after an encounter with a spider in the shower. However, according to I Write Like, this story has greater potential than I ever imagined:



I write like
J. R. R. Tolkien
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

As for the spider? He was flushed away. After he destroyed the Ring of Power, of course.

16 comments:

RosieC said...

Dear Tolkien Jr.,
Yeah, I got some weird ones, and I can't say I was happy about some of them. As long as we remember that it's just a game and we actually write like *ourselves* then we should be fine.

Sincerely,
Daniella Brown :(

The Burrow said...

I have been curious enough to take the Burrower's drabbles from our website (5 each, bio drabble included) and let the Mighty Algorithm analyze them (see below). The first name refers to the examined Burrower's bio drabble, which would be the one where he or she wrote with deep honesty no doubt; the other names refer to the first four drabbles on that Burrower's contributor page at the-burrow.org; the last name is obtained by analysis of all five drabbles at once:

Aleatha Ingleton:
Stephen King
Dan Brown
James Joyce
Dan Brown
Margaret Mitchell
*L. Frank Baum*

Eilis Klara Strand:
James Joyce
Margret Atwood
James Joyce
David Foster Wallace
J. K. Rowling
*James Joyce*

Hart Johnson:
Douglas Adams
Stephen King
Ian Fleming
Oscar Wilde
Margaret Atwood
*Douglas Adams*

Jason Drake:
James Joyce
Kurt Vonnegut
H. P. Lovecraft
Ray Bradbury
David Foster Wallace
*Kurt Vonnegut*

Leanne Rabesa:
David Foster Wallace
Kurt Vonnegut
Dan Brown
Dan Brown
Stephen King
*Dan Brown*

Mari Salberg:
Dan Brown
Jane Austen
Ursula K. Le Guin
Ray Bradbury
Arthur Conan Doyle
*Dan Brown*

Rayna M. Iyer:
Arthur Conan Doyle
Charles Dickens
James Joyce
Margaret Atwood
Edgar Allan Poe
*Ursula K. Le Guin*

Shaharizan Perez:
Vladimir Nabokov
Dan Brown
James Joyce
David Foster Wallace
Charles Dickens
*David Foster Wallace*

S. T. Grahamer:
James Joyce
Leo Tolstoy
David Foster Wallace
H. P. Lovecraft
Leo Tolstoy
*David Foster Wallace*

Tara Smith:
Charles Dickens
Margaret Mitchell
Vladimir Nabokov
Kurt Vonnegut
William Shakespeare
*Margaret Mitchell*


I have to say I am a little peeved that I didn't get a Kurt. Anyway, whatever that Algorithm does, I think the result explains a lot ;-p

STG
*goes to read Ulysses*

Jemi Fraser said...

I tried it earlier too. My blog is apparently like Margaret Atwood - my ms is like Stephen King :)

ViolaNut said...

Urgh. I iz greatly offendedz. :-P

Seriously though, when I managed to get King, Atwood, Wallace, Adams, and LeGuin on various things, I just had a good ol' laugh. ;-) I WAS feeling quite smug about managing to avoid the deathbadge of Brown... gee thanks, Tina. :-P

Rayna M. Iyer said...

And my son's latest story got him a Rudyard Kipling. Aren't I pleased.

LTM said...

LOL--LOVE Spidey's fate... :D

Me: Margaret Mitchell (!), Dan Brown & Wallace. *red face* I had to look up Wallace... I guess that's encouraging...?

LOVE Rayna's Kipling son~

M.J. Nicholls said...

Apparently I write like RosieC, The Burrow Jemi Fraser, ViolaNut, Rayna M. Iyer, LTM and M.J. Nicholls. Or I could just be reading the names on my screen.

Surely it's a bummer to discover you write like your heroes? You don't want to imitate them, you want to be different from them, to write like YOU!

Chary Johnson said...

Oh dear, I got Dan Brown on the list. *sighs*

Interesting that you put in Rayan's work. I'm going to do the same with Zionne to see who she gets. :D

Loved the spider tale. Ever thought of children's literature?

Great post Mari!

Hart Johnson said...

Mari--Love your little Tolkein tale! Love the young writer's Rudyard Kipling... but I have to say... I got Oscar Wilde? I WIN! Though honestly I prefer his quips to his books, (LOVE his plays... streams of quips) but a drabble ought to be quippish anyway, ne? Wonder if that was my frozen hot wheels one...

Kassy with a K said...

Alright, so you piqued my interest enough to make me try it. I got Stephen King, Stephenie Meyer *cringe*, and Kurt Vonnegut from excerpts of my two WiPs, and of course, like we've discovered JKR for an excerpt of fanfiction. So random.

Spiders.. *shudders* But I liked the story, anyway. :)

Amy said...

So, I tried it out with 3 random blog posts. I got Stephen King the first time, and then David Foster Wallace for the other 2 tries. I never read anything of his, so I'll have to find something.

Linn Carina said...

I put in a poem by Dylan Thomas, apparently he writes like JRR Tolkien as well.

Cruella Collett said...

Rosie, uhm, Daniella - yeah, I wasn't too thrilled with all of mine either. But hey, it's just a silly number thingie! Nothing to worry about... Right?

Tina - haha - some research you did there! Alas - we have some great authors amongst us (and some not so great ones... Oh, well...)

Jemi - that is funny, since Atwood apparently is also like King...

Leigh - yeah, if it hadn't been for spidey we'd all be slaves in Mordor by now!

Mark - that is one way of looking at it. Do you also write like Norwegian (Joyce)?

Chary - I have definitely pondered children's literature. We shall see...

Kassy - I lured you into sin! Or "I Write Like", whichever you prefer...

Amy - he's supposed to be a "visionary" (says M.J. up there. Though to be honest I had never even heard of Foster before all of this...)

Linn - me and Dylan - we're so, so tight!

Thanks for everyone's comments - I find it very entertaining to see what authors all of you got!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good for the spider.
I ended up with Dan Brown, which I really hope is completely inaccuarate!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I write like Douglas Adams. Allegedly! :) I think Douglas Adams might be a little alarmed by that...

Cruella Collett said...

Alex - someone else said it before me, but there is nothing like repeating good stuff: you wouldn't mind his success, now would you? ;)

Elizabeth - tee hee, I'm sure he would be honoured! (I am slightly curious how the algoritm figured that one out, though... Did you frequently use words like "towel", "42" and "Slartibartfast"?