Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I Write Like... [insert famous author here]

I'm a fan of quizzes, widgets, and other personality-divining web devices. Don't ask me why because I'll be forced to psycho-analyze myself, always a dangerous endeavor.

They're just FUN!

Here's one I stumbled across on twitter today: http://iwl.me/

I encourage you to do what I did, which is insert several different types of writing samples. See if you get the same author multiple times, and pay attention to the type of your writing that's similar to H.P. Lovecraft or Rudyard Kipling or Margaret Atwood.

My blogging and dialogue frequently comes back Chuck Palahniuk, whom I've actually never read.

My poetry came back once Margaret Atwood and once Rudyard Kipling.

My prose came back Stephen King, Dan Brown, and J.K. Rowling.

Obviously, this doesn't mean I have their talent. It's a style thing. When I was at BYU, I had the pleasure of being taught by Wayne Larsen, one of the creators of Wordprint technology, a method of statistically measuring the words authors unconsciously use most often, supposedly as unique as a fingerprint. Though there are criticisms of the specific methods (which words are used as indicators of style: to, the, that, which, etc.), it has been touted as an effective way to discern between two or more authors writing in the same book.

I find this fascinating. I'd like to see more research done in this area. Perhaps, we could discover which authors' styles throughout history were influenced by each other. Most authors admit to their style being a conglomeration of books they've read. I wonder how reading affects writing statistically.

Now, I have no idea what algorithms this Mac software linked above is using. It's not likely to be exactly the same system as the Larsen group of BYU. But it is certainly FUN, no?

It may even be a way of noting inconsistencies of style in your own work. In the future, software for writers could be developed to red-flag portions that read differently--ones with excessive "that"s and "the"s.

Try the widget: http://iwl.me/

Who did you get?


  1. This was so much fun! This is what I came up with!!!

    Blogging - H.P. Lovecraft
    Writing (Getting to Peloria) - Dan Brown & Kurt Vonnegut
    Writing (The Travelers) - Harry Harrison

    Now I need to google since I've never read any of these people!

  2. Very interesting. So here's mine:

    Blog: Dan Brown
    Writing: Stephen King, Oscar Wilde

    I am curious to know how they determine it.

  3. Jen, isn't it great discovering new (to us) authors? There are so many, it's really impossible to read them all. That's why every bookie I know has a TBR pile on their nightstand that's way taller than the bed.

    Janet, Me, too! Too bad they don't divulge that info. I didn't see Oscar Wilde once (nor Harry Harrison)! It's good to know there were many other options. It makes me feel the test was more valid somehow. :-)

  4. All of my samples came back as JD Salinger. LOL Very cool, thanks for the link!


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