I write like…

July 29, 2010 at 5:35 am (Thoughts on Writing, Voice) (, , , , , , , , , )


I finally gave in and tried this though not with an open mind and I have to admit my thoughts about this were well justified. Using the prologue from a work-in-progress I fed in various paragraphs and samples into the I Write Like site and according to it’s analysis I write like:

First 200 words: Raymond Chandler (which is an insane comparison)

Next 150 words: Douglas Adams (which is flattering but really quite untrue)

Next 150 words: Cory Doctorow (hadn’t heard of him before and had to google him to find out, no idea what his writing style is)

Next 200 words: Dan Brown (now it is just being mean to me)

Final 100 words: Stephen King (again flattering but untrue).

Now how in one prologue of just over 700 words did I manage to be that schizophrenic? And how can you possibly write like Douglas Adams and Dan Brown and Stephen King and Raymond Chandler all in one cohesive text. In case they hadn’t noticed, they have very different writing styles. extremely different. As in, if they were ant colonies they would devour one another different.

I went into this sceptical about it having any accuracy. I assumed it would make some generic assumption about your writing and spit out the name of someone famous to keep you happy and you would tweet it once, the end. What I didn’t expect was that pieces of the same text would come back with such incredibly different results which makes you wonder what exactly it is looking for in the text.

So I dropped the entire 700 words in and it came back with Cory Doctorow. But if I put the first 350 in it comes back with Raymond Chandler and the final 350 come back as Dan Brown. There doesn’t appear to be any underlying logic here.

Did this give me any insight into my writing? Not really. I’m trying to imagine Dan Brown interjecting into the middle of one of Douglas Adams’ novels and I must say it is an amusing thought but that’s about as far as it goes.

Who do I write like? I write like me and that’s all I can do.

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24 Comments

  1. JackieS said,

    According to that website, I write like William Gibson. I’d never heard of him but apparently he writes psychological thrillers. When I tried again, I wrote like Kurt Vonnegut. I haven’t read any of his work either but maybe I should do some research!

    I tried on a short story I wrote which has recently been published and it said I wrote like Margaret Mitchell. As it’s set in the Victorian era, I can see the ‘damsel in distress’ comparison but I’m not sure if it’s a compliment. She did never see her work published and I could never get into Gone with the Wind.

  2. Agatha82 said,

    I had tried this and got Dan Brown once with one short story, it amused me terribly.
    Then I got James Joyce (!) for something else and I’ve just tried it again with a big chunk of my edited novel and I got Stephen King.

    Actually, I read an interview with the chap who designed the website and he said he’s only inputted about 50 authors so far, perhaps, that has something to do with it.

    I’ve not tried to write like anyone but I don’t mind Stephen King comparisons though Dan Brown…hmmmm, well, I read the Da Vinci Code and thought it ok…

  3. AlexJ said,

    I got Dan Brown – ugh. Think it’s just for fun though. At least I hope!

  4. Jemi Fraser said,

    It’s an interesting stie – but just for fun. I think it probably analyzes things like sentence length, number of commas, adverbs, fragments…

    My blog shows up as Margaret Atwood, and my ms shows up as King πŸ™‚

  5. Lee R said,

    Ha that’s funny. I saw that too and first thought “That’s stupid.” But then I couldn’t resist trying it either. I got Doctorow. But it’s silly.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      Its amazing how we know logically we aren’t going to believe it and yet we still keep trying. I would love to know how much text it has analysed in the last few weeks.

  6. Hema P. said,

    That exercise sounds like fun, and one of my other blogger friends had mixed results, too. I haven’t ventured it myself. Now, if I try it out out and it comes back saying that no one writes like me, how do I parse that??! πŸ™‚

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      What text did you put into it?

      • Hema P. said,

        I haven’t tried it out — I was just thinking out loud before I even took the plunge :).

  7. elisajeglin said,

    Hmmm, this site sounds interesting and sounds like a good laugh. Maybe I’ll wait a little longer so the guy has time to input some more authors. Oh, and I wouldn’t mind if I was told I wrote like Dan Brown…which I don’t ;p

  8. Carol Ann Hoel said,

    Maybe you got all those different answers because you write like Cassandra Jade? She is unique, and what may seem like a combination of many is really Cassandra Jade, the only one of her that will ever be. I look forward to visiting your blog again.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I think that about sums it up. Unless you are trying to emulate someone your writing style should be unique. Possibly comparable in some ways to other authors but it shouldn’t mirror them.

  9. Hart said,

    Cory Doctorow is Steam Punk–I haven’t read any of his stuff, but that much I know.

    I also have a clue how the outcome could be so schizo… it uses keywords. Any decent writer is NOT going to use the same words section to section to section, so having all different authors in a 3 page section is actually probably promising.

    I got different authors for every work I put in, too, though I did the first page of 5 different works.

  10. Kyle said,

    Apparently one of my posts is written like Chuck Pahlaniuk. I can live with that.

  11. tsuchigari said,

    I haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds like fun. I would love to see the algorithm behind the test, and see what it is looking for. Wonder what would happen if Douglas Adams tried it, would he get a mix of different authors as well?

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I think Douglas Adams writes like Douglas Adams. He has a very unique style.

  12. catwoods said,

    Cassandra,

    I played that game once, too, just for giggles. There was no way the comparison rang true.

    I think what it does is analyze sentence length and structure. In which case, we would get widly different answers based on the amount of description (longer, compound sentences) versus dialogue or action.

    Who knows? In any case, it kept me busy for about four minutes of my life that I will never get back!

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I think that’s what most of the internet is there for, to keep you busy momentarily.

  13. Lua said,

    The last time I did this little game, it told me that I write like James Joyce!
    James Joyce!!!
    Who knew… πŸ™‚

  14. Miss Rosemary said,

    Bahaha! That site was great for a boring day at work πŸ™‚ All over the place

  15. tsactuo said,

    I was informed I write like George Orwell.

    Strange. I also happen to share many of his beliefs on government and people. lol

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