I Am Kurt Vonnegut

 

D.C. McAllister asked yesterday, “What Author Do You Wish You Could Write Like?”.  

A few months ago, I discovered an online writing style analyzer. (http://iwl.me/)  You enter some text and it compares the sentence structure, grammar and other writing characteristics against its database, and – voila! – it tells you which author’s style it most closely resembles.

This is gonna be great, I tell myself. I’m gonna find out that I possess the pen of Virgil!  

So I pull a few of my blog posts out of mothballs and get ready to cut and paste.

First up, an old post in which I defend the Millenials.

Select All.  Copy.  Paste.  Analyze.  Wait.

“You write like Dan Brown.”

Dan Brown? The Da Vinci Code guy? Seriously? Certainly I write better than some pop-culture novelist!  I shouldn’t be so disappointed though. It’s better than being told I write like John Grisham.

No worries, I say to myself, I have plenty more material to draw from.

So I pull another post, this time about an early morning visit from some missionaries. It’s a masterpiece! 

Copy. Paste. Analyze. Wait.

Shoot.

Dan Brown again. What’s the problem…a conspiratorial tone?!?

This can’t continue.

Next up is something about exercising one’s faith in the public square.

“You write like H.P. Lovecraft.”

Hey, I read this guy in high school. He wrote creepy stories, a modern-day Edgar Allan Poe. But what does that say about me?!?

Not many posts left. I’m starting to sweat. I’m not even close to Virgil. 

I select a reflection about the difference a year makes.

Ctrl-C.  Ctrl-V.  Analyze.  Wait.

“You write like James Joyce.”

James Joyce was someone I was supposed to have read in high school but didn’t. That’s progress! But was he a poet or a novelist? I can’t remember. Regardless, there’s something profoundly philosophical about a drunken Irishman.  Any drunken Irishman.

Last one…I’m going all in. A reflection of a day-trip to London.

You know all the points and clicks by now.

Wait.  Wait.   Wait.

Jackpot

I’m cashin’ in and goin’ home.

“You write like Kurt Vonnegut.”

 

There are 66 comments.

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  1. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    On the other hand, when I entered in The Call of Cthulhu, it was able to correctly identify H.P. Lovecraft, even when I did a find/replace to change every instance of “Cthulhu” to “Fred”.

    (I thought maybe the word “Cthulhu” would be a dead giveaway).

    • #31
  2. user_216080 Thatcher
    user_216080
    @DougKimball

    Simon Templar and I are working on a work of fiction together.  I weave his crazy stories into a narrative about an expat Marine on the lam in Costa Rica, growing the piper nigrum, who is recalled into service in Afghanistan.  I tossed the first 45000 words into the cruncher and it came up with Robert Louis Stevenson, probably because much of the dialog is presented in Spanglish, that is in English but as uttered by a native Spanish speaking person.  I have lots of experience with this as many of my friends talk like this.  I also have a book of short stories (about half of which were previously published in journals) so I plugged in a few.  Leguin came up and Paluhniuk, which makes sense.  Literary journals tend to like a direct, stripped style of short story prose.  Young Doctorow cam up as well.  I’m now going to submit this post!

    H.P. Lovecraft!

    • #32
  3. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Tennyson’s  Ulysses  was written by Daniel Defoe. Yeats’s  Sailing to Byzantium  was written by Jonathan Swift. Frost’s  Mending Wall  and cummings’s  All in green went my love riding  were both written by JRR Tolkien.

    And… get ready for it…

    The Psalms (all of them) were written by Dan Brown.

    • #33
  4. CandE Inactive
    CandE
    @CandE

    Stephen King.  Daniel Defoe.  Cory Doctorow.  Kurt Vonnegut (coincidence that the topic was pornography and politics?).  Dan Brown.  

    I’ve decided that I’m schizophrenic.  At least I never got Obama; I still don’t write enough I’s for that.

    -E

    • #34
  5. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas
    @CUDouglas

    So does copy and pasting the same excerpt yield the same results?

    • #35
  6. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas
    @CUDouglas

    Also, I’d read “The Call of Fred” by Lovecraft …

    • #36
  7. user_7742 Member
    user_7742
    @BrianWatt

    I pasted an excerpt from my work-in-progress novel, The Curious Globe of Cornelius Crain (shameless plug), and learned that I write like Mary Shelley.

    An excerpt from a short story I had written tells me that I write like Raymond Chandler.

    I could do this all day…but then I wouldn’t be writing much of anything in any particular style.

    • #37
  8. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    I don’t understand how anyone would want to write like that weaselly man.  One of two writers that I stopped reading halfway through and shredded the book.

    • #38
  9. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Skyler:
    I don’t understand how anyone would want to write like that weaselly man. One of two writers that I stopped reading halfway through and shredded the book.

     Could you be more specific?

    • #39
  10. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Two David Foster Wallaces, then one each of H.P Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Cory Doctorow.

    @Misth, I stuck in “The Gods of the Copybook Headings” by Kipling.  (I posted it after the last Presidential election – can’t remember why.)  The program came back with Shakespeare.

    • #40
  11. PsychLynne Inactive
    PsychLynne
    @PsychLynne

    Despite doing a fair amount of writing for my work, I don’t enjoy it.  I’m a much more effective speaker.  I plugged in a couple of posts and a couple of pieces from my professional life, I cam up with the following themes:

    Ricochet post on death of my sister:  Dan Brown, ok, I can live with that.  It was emotion spewed on the screen.

    Ricochet posts on my world (behavioral science and government):  HP Lovecraft.

    Independent writings in my work world (distress, cognition and cancer):  Margaret Atwood and William Gibson

    So…my first thought is…wow, I haven’t read ANY of these authors.  My second is, what if I read them and don’t like their style.

    Oh, well, back to another paper…

    • #41
  12. user_45283 Inactive
    user_45283
    @MarkMonaghan

    Gertrude Stein?  Gertrude Stein?  I have to turn in my man card!

    • #42
  13. user_352043 Moderator
    user_352043
    @AmySchley

    http://ricochet.com/why-i-am-a-lutheran/ Why I am a Lutheran by William Shakespeare.

    http://ricochet.com/best-thanksgiving-weekend-ever-warning-long-and-with-lots-of-geekery/ Best Thanksgiving Weekend Ever by Dan Brown

    http://www.elfwood.com/~amysly/Diary-of-a-Young-Girl.3367710.html Diary of a Young Girl (First person diary entry style novella of near dystopian future) by Stephen King.

    http://www.elfwood.com/~amysly/The-Tax-Zombie-Cometh..3367720.html The Tax Zombie Cometh (First person noir) by Edgar Allen Poe.

    http://www.elfwood.com/~amysly/Into-the-Sea-Act-1.3367712.html Into The Sea, Part 1 (Fantasy story about mermaids) by Vladimir Nabokov.

    • #43
  14. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Amy Schley:
    http://ricochet.com/why-i-am-a-lutheran/ Why I am a Lutheran by William Shakespeare. Etc…

    Ok, now I want a module added to Ricochet 2.0 that automatically posts the IWL result for every single post.

    (Not for every comment though, cuz that would be silly ;-)

    • #44
  15. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Mark Monaghan:
    Gertrude Stein? Gertrude Stein? I have to turn in my man card!

     Why? She was pretty manly.

    • #45
  16. George Savage Contributor
    George Savage
    @GeorgeSavage

    Three of my Ricochet posts yielded three different authors:  Edgar Allan Poe, Dan Brown and David Foster Wallace.  So I appear to be a protean writer, at least from a blogging perspective.

    Hmm, how would the system treat an FDA filing–surely the most unstylish and regimented form or writing?  David Foster Wallace again.  He must use a lot of medical terminology, too.

    • #46
  17. user_554634 Moderator
    user_554634
    @MikeRapkoch

    Percival:
    Two David Foster Wallaces, then one each of H.P Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Cory Doctorow.
    @Misth, I stuck in “The Gods of the Copybook Headings” by Kipling. (I posted it after the last Presidential election – can’t remember why.) The program came back with Shakespeare.

     Yea, I got Cory Doctoro. Forgive my ignorance, but who the h___ is Cory Doctorow?

    • #47
  18. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Mike Rapkoch:

    Percival: Two David Foster Wallaces, then one each of H.P Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Cory Doctorow. @Misth, I stuck in “The Gods of the Copybook Headings” by Kipling. (I posted it after the last Presidential election – can’t remember why.) The program came back with Shakespeare.

    Yea, I got Cory Doctoro. Forgive my ignorance, but who the h___ is Cory Doctorow?

    1. http://bit.ly/19jZxKT
    2. http://www.feedbooks.com/author/93
    • #48
  19. Klaatu Inactive
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    I must not have a style.  Four different samples and I have told Edgar Allen Poe, Steven King, Cory Doctorow, and HP Lovecraft (the last two I will admit to having not read).

    • #49
  20. D.C. McAllister Inactive
    D.C. McAllister
    @DCMcAllister

    I did several of my posts. They came out evenly Stephen King and George Orwell. My posts that are strictly political, though, kept coming up Isaac Asimov. 

    Okay. I can live with that.

    • #50
  21. D.C. McAllister Inactive
    D.C. McAllister
    @DCMcAllister

    Mark Monaghan:
    Gertrude Stein? Gertrude Stein? I have to turn in my man card!

     Definitely. Hand it in right now.

    • #51
  22. D.C. McAllister Inactive
    D.C. McAllister
    @DCMcAllister

    anonymous:
    I pasted “Trek’s End”, a science fiction story, and it said I write like Arthur Clarke. I next pasted a popular science article, “Barely Radioactive Elements”, and it said I write like Isaac Asimov.
    Works for me.

     This does not surprise me at all. :)

    • #52
  23. Yudansha Member
    Yudansha
    @Yudansha

    &p>I wrote about three paragraph extemporaneously and got… wait for it… JRR TOLKEIN!!  Not bad for a semi-literate poser.

    Edit: I do not, apparently, spell as well as Mr. Tolkein.

    • #53
  24. Yudansha Member
    Yudansha
    @Yudansha

    Nor, apparently, will Ricochet help me.  Stupid coding.

    • #54
  25. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas
    @CUDouglas

    So, out of curiosity I took more tests.

    My original post used my “Of Books and Beer 2” — that came up as Ursula K. LeGuin

    “Of Books and Beer”, the original, that gave me H. P. Lovecraft. Wahoo! I’ve always wanted to review books and beer of unspeakable horror.

    My “Loss” post came us as Cory Doctorow whom I’ve never read. So forget him. Or her. Who is Cory Doctorow anyways?

    • #55
  26. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas
    @CUDouglas

    C. U. Douglas:

    “Of Books and Beer”, the original, that gave me H. P. Lovecraft. Wahoo! I’ve always wanted to review books and beer of unspeakable horror.

    “The Necronomicon is a book that promises much but delivers little. The author, apparently wanting to present a book as if it was written like a madman succeeds so well as to actually force the read to question his own sanity in beginning this book at all. The illustrations could be called well-done due to detail, but looking at one for too long — say, twelve seconds — induces such a headache in this reviewer that he found it necessary to put the book aside for an equal number of days. Needless to say that made it very difficult to follow this book. It promises a lot, power, ultimate destruction, and eternal servitude for example, but getting any of those seems more trouble than it’s worth. I find myself in the rare position of being unable to finish this book or finding any desire to try again. Lock this book away and never open it and the reader will thank me later. The author best turn his talents to insane rambling manifestos.”

    • #56
  27. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas
    @CUDouglas

    Incidentally my review there also comes out like H. P. Lovecraft. I have found my calling.

    • #57
  28. user_221977 Contributor
    user_221977
    @MichaelSMalone

    I’m calling BS on this one.  I posted a segment from my upcoming book on Intel — and was told I write like Cory Doctorow.  And since Cory is younger than me, and has written and sold fewer books than me, I figure he should be classified as writing like me, not the other way around. :) Next I tried two samples from my book on memory, the Guardian of All Things.  The first time, because the section was about dragon imagery in Medieval Bestiaries, I got compared to J.R.R. Tolkein.  The next, on memory theaters, got me compared to H.P. Lovecraft.  Yeah, right.  I’ll bet if I posted a calculus proof with one added word like “Cthulhu” I’d get the Lovecraft comparison too.  Basically, this site presents itself as textual analysis (I was already suspicious by how fast it did that ‘analysis’), but it is in fact just a keyword search attached to a handful of famous writers.  But be sure to buy the t-shirt.

    • #58
  29. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Michael S. Malone:
     I’ll bet if I posted a calculus proof with one added word like “Cthulhu” I’d get the Lovecraft comparison too.

    Based on a rather small sample size, math proofs typically yield HP Lovecraft, David Foster Wallace, or Edgar Allan Poe.

    • #59
  30. Lucy Pevensie Inactive
    Lucy Pevensie
    @LucyPevensie

    I put in a number of different bits of writing, and the answers seemed to alternate between David Foster Wallace and H.P. Lovecraft.  I don’t believe I have ever read anything by either of them.  It’s interesting, though, that other people do get other writers, so it isn’t just that those are the only two possible answers.

    • #60
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