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By now many of you have run a writing sample through the website I Write Like. My first sample that I put through of my writing was declared to be like the writing of Chuck Palahniuk. I was impressed even though at the time I had no idea who he was and had to look him up. The next sample I ran through said that I write like Dan Brown. Cool! Looked like I had the potential of writing a best selling novel.
Then I started experimenting. I put in a passage from Huckleberry Finn. The writing program quickly spat out Mark Twain. Too easy I thought, so I submitted a passage from a modern translation of the Book of Jonah out of the Bible. The response was Daniel Defoe. Hmmm--Well there is some similarity between the stories of Robinson Crusoe and Jonah--kind of, in a way.
Curious, I tried a passage from the Book of Ezekiel. The comparison was to Kurt Vonnegut. Now, I suppose some of Vonnegut's fans think of him as a writing god, but this comparison was going a bit far. Since I was on a roll I tried one more, this time another sample from the Bible came back as sounding like Anne Rice. Okay, that did it. The program was not always accurate.
The I Write Like program was developed by Russian software developer Dmitry Chestnykh. He fed about 50 famous writers into a data base and created a program that would analyze writing and compare the sample to one of those writers. It's a fun little diversion that is more like a technological parlor trick than any reliable system of writing analysis. Cool? Yes. Reliable? It has its limits. A lot of us seem to write like the same writers according to this website.
Personally, I would like to have an amazingly distinctive style that is readily identifiable as me. But I know I don't. I have a voice, but it is a casual modern voice that is not unlike a lot of writers that I read. That's okay with me because I prefer to write in the style that I enjoy reading.
If I were asked, "Who would you like to write like?", then I would probably mention someone like Flannery O'Connor, William Faulkner, or even Stephen King. They all have writing qualities that I find admirable. But also they are all different. Maybe a bit of each combined into a mishmash of me might be nice.
Who would you like to write like? Have you submitted any of your writing samples to I Write Like? What did that program say about you?
I think you will enjoy the Tossing It Out guest spot on Wednesday when Nicole from The Madlab Post makes a return visit with a blogging inspiration comparison to writers in the movies. How about I tease you with "Johnny Depp" for starters? Be sure to stop in this Wednesday to find out more.