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. Lucy Pevensie Inactive
    Lucy Pevensie
    @LucyPevensie

    Michael S. Malone:
    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. :)

    I love this.

    • #61
  2. user_7742 Member
    user_7742
    @BrianWatt

    The excerpt from the short story I had written that came back identifying my writing style as Raymond Chandler-esque just happened to be a scene in a dockside bar in Fisherman’s Wharf and the protaganist ordering another glass of Scotch on the rocks. So, I think nouns identified in the text must also link to a lookup table of often used similar nouns by other writers. But, that said, I’m not terribly convinced that there is that much painstaking science or methodology involved and probably a lot more gimmickry in this.

    • #62
  3. TeamAmerica Member
    TeamAmerica
    @TeamAmerica

    I write like David Foster Wallace, supposedly. I’ve never read his stuff, but I’ve heard he was pretty good.

    • #63
  4. user_653084 Inactive
    user_653084
    @SalvatorePadula

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:
    I’ve gotten Jane Austen, George Orwell, David Foster Wallace, or any number of other writers when I’ve pasted a particular work in.
    If you paste a wide variety of genres of your own writing in (say, both your poetry and your prose), you’re fairly likely to get HP Lovecraft.

     I pasted in several selections from Orwell. Apparently Orwell wrote like H.P. Lovecraft. Two out of three excerpts from Lovecraft were identified as being in the style of Vonnegut.

    • #64
  5. user_278007 Inactive
    user_278007
    @RichardFulmer

    I tried six times with six different published pieces and I got the following:
       David Foster Wallace
       Robert Louis Stevenson
       Cory Doctorow
       H. P. Lovecraft
       H. P. Lovecraft
       Edgar Allan Poe
    Either I’m horribly inconsistent or the algorithm needs work.

    • #65
  6. Yudansha Member
    Yudansha
    @Yudansha

    Salvatore Padula:
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: I’ve gotten Jane Austen, George Orwell, David Foster Wallace, or any number of other writers when I’ve pasted a particular work in. If you paste a wide variety of genres of your own writing in (say, both your poetry and your prose), you’re fairly likely to get HP Lovecraft.
    I pasted in several selections from Orwell. Apparently Orwell wrote like H.P. Lovecraft. Two out of three excerpts from Lovecraft were identified as being in the style of Vonnegut.

    Well, now I’m not so proud of that whole Tolkien thing.  Thanks Salvatore, for raining in my parade.
     

    • #66
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