Saturday, July 17, 2010

Writing in the Spirit and the Style

Fancy your business letters smack of Hemingway? Your blogs have an air of Margaret Mitchell? The short story you wrote in high school sound a bit like a Stephen King tale? Well, now you have a way to find out at "I Write Like," a website that lets you paste in a few paragraphs of writing and have it analyzed and compared to 50 famous authors.

According to the Associated Press, this fun little website isn't the brainchild of some English professor from Kenyon or Swathmore. Nope. The creator of "I Write Like" is a 27-year-old Russian (yeah, Russian) software programmer living in Montenegro (Montenegro? Really?). Oh, and English is his second language.

He modeled the whole thing on software for email spam filters, so the analysis is keyword based. Though some elements of style are considered, your word choices determine the results of your analysis more than sentence structure with this program. And so far, only fifty authors are a part of the analysis, but the young programmer promises to add more.

For example, there's no Herman Melville at present, but when a passage from Moby Dick is analyzed, it comes out as written by Stephen King. Go figure. Author Margaret Atwood, who is among the fifty authors, seems to be Stephen King, as well (she ran her own experiment).

I ran a couple of blog entries, several short stories, notes taken from a meeting at work, and ad copy, just to see what came out. Results? One James Fenimore Cooper, one H.P. Lovecraft, and four David Foster Wallaces. Hm.  Oh, and I ran this blog post through the analyzer. Another David Foster Wallace.

Go on. Give it a try and see what you come up with. I'm going to keep trying until I get Eudora Welty or Dr. Seuss.


Anonymous said...

I submitted two samples. The first pegged me as the next J.K. Rowling. The second, Arthur C. Clark. Wish I had some of Rowling's money.

Liz said...

Right, I'm going to have to give it a try ... hang on there.

My novel - Cory Doctorow (Who?)
My blog - Kurt Vonnegut

This is addictive ...

jay said...

Well that was interesting and kind of fun - it'll be more interesting when they have more authors, I should think, and even more interesting if they include more elements of style.

Apparently I'm more Stephen King than anything else, with a little James Joyce thrown in. Ha!

I came over via Liz (Finding Life Hard).

MaryB said...

I think it's fun to throw in things that aren't necessarily creative, like a business letter or notes from a meeting. I had one set of notes that were rated as Stephen King. Perhpas because I find meetings so full of horror, perhaps?