Saturday, July 17, 2010

I write like

I noticed an article on Yahoo this morning about a site called I write like. I'd heard of it before, but I had never tried it. It is simple to use. You just paste a sample of your writing in then click on the Analyze button and a few seconds later it tells you the name of some famous writer who, according to their database, matches your style.

I decided I'd try a few excerpts from my novel, Motherless Soul, just to see what I came up with. I started with the opening two paragraphs:

On the eightieth anniversary of her mother’s death Emily wrote a letter to a hypnotist. Her mother had died when she was two, so Emily’s only memories of the woman were imagined events inspired by old photographs. She’d polished those conjured recollections to the point where she could feel the thick fabric of a cotton skirt against her mother’s strong thigh and smell the Ivory soap on her mother’s bare arms. But as Emily’s body grew slow and soft and the reality of her own mortality became clear, she found that her lifelong desire to know the person from whose body she’d come was overwhelming. She thought that a hypnotist might help her reach into the back corners of her mind to make her dream a reality.

“The death of your mother was probably more important than you realize,” Glen Wiley wrote back. The rest of his letter followed the theme of his first sentence. He wrote of the particular importance of a mother’s role in the life of a woman, stating that it went beyond the need for a loving, nurturing environment that all children share. He said that daughters often grow up to be images of their mothers. “Without that clear role model,” he continued, “a woman runs the risk of feeling worthless.”

For those of you who don't recognize the picture, the site told me I write like David Foster Wallace. This was fun, so I tried another section.

Next I picked a scene where two women were talking about their friendship. This time the site told me I write like Margaret Mitchell. Once again I got a result I can be proud of.

I tried a third time, choosing a couple of paragraphs from an action scene at the end of my book. The author this section was compared to was Stephen King. I was trying for a page turner at this point in the story, so I was as pleased as I could be with that comparison.

To test the site, I decided to pick up a few quotes from the authors I'd been compared with and analyze those. I found that David Foster Wallace writes like David Foster Wallace, Margaret Mitchell writes like Margaret Mitchell, but Stephen King was compared to Dan Brown. I don't know what all that means, but it was fun to play with.

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