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.”

 

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  1. Albert Arthur Coolidge
    Albert Arthur
    @AlbertArthur

    I got Robert Louis Stevenson. Cool!

    • #1
  2. Albert Arthur Coolidge
    Albert Arthur
    @AlbertArthur

    Wait. Now I write like Douglas Adams for a different writing sample. And when I pasted both sample A (Stevenson) and sample B (Adams), and ran the analyzer on both at once, Adams won out.

    • #2
  3. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    I am Kurt Vonnegut

    Oh my; I’ve always been a fan of Kilgore Trout. :)

    • #3
  4. Dave_L Inactive
    Dave_L
    @Dave-L

    Albert Arthur:
    Wait. Now I write like Douglas Adams for a different writing sample. And when I pasted both sample A (Stevenson) and sample B (Adams), and ran the analyzer on both at once, Adams won out.

     Yeah, I’m not sure about its statistical veracity, but I’ve tested it on a good amount of content and consistently get the same 3-4 results.

    • #4
  5. user_435274 Thatcher
    user_435274
    @JohnHanson

    I received H.P. Lovecraft.   Who knows, but being a techno-nerd its likely not out of the question.

    • #5
  6. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    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.

    • #6
  7. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    It is essentially rubbish at identifying poetry, or any writing that contains poetry. I just pasted in an e e cummings poem, and it mistook it for JRR Tolkien.

    • #7
  8. Dave_L Inactive
    Dave_L
    @Dave-L

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:
    It is essentially rubbish at identifying poetry, or any writing that contains poetry. I just pasted in an e e cummings poem, and it mistook it for JRR Tolkien.

     So maybe I do write like Virgil.  Happy day!

    • #8
  9. Roberto Inactive
    Roberto
    @Roberto

    Once you get that Ice-nine chemistry sorted out give me a heads up. Not a prepper in general but this time…

    • #9
  10. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    It just misidentified the following passage from this post as being “like Shakespeare”:

    The lyrics of  Bogoroditse  are standard Annunciation lyrics: “Rejoice, Virgin, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee. Blessed art Thou among women, and blessed the Fruit of Thy womb. Thou hast borne the Savior of our souls.”
    If you follow the sheet music to  Bogoroditse  on the YouTube video, you’ll see that, on the word “raduissya“, the whole choir, but especially the bass line (with its 8-5-6-3-4-6-5-8 sequence), mimics the peal of bells. Choir directors delight in taking this piece really slow, perhaps to bring out its meditative nature. I always wish it were somewhat faster, to better evoke the feeling of bells dancing for joy.

    I assure you, Shakespeare it is not.

    • #10
  11. Knotwise the Poet Member
    Knotwise the Poet
    @KnotwisethePoet

    Apparently I’m some Frankenstein mash-up of L. Frank Baum, P.G. Wodehouse, Ursula K. Leguin, J.R.R. Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, Cory Doctorow, Dan Brown, and (ugh) J.D. Salinger.

    Kneel before my literary prowess!

    • #11
  12. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Write?  Heck I can barely read.   But I’ve lived like Hunter Thompson  and Ernest Hemingway.

    • #12
  13. Snirtler Inactive
    Snirtler
    @Snirtler

    Using my one multi-paragraph post that survived the migration to 2.0, I got David Foster Wallace–whom I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never read.

    • #13
  14. rico Inactive
    rico
    @rico

    Thanks for posting this, Dave. It’s a lot of fun.

    I’ve never particularly enjoyed writing until I started playing around on Ricochet, and other than Ricochet posts I don’t have any material to submit for analysis. So I submitted seven recent posts.

    The names Stephen King, Jonathan Swift, and James Joyce glared back at me on my first three submittals. Right. Is this thing serious? Well, first, my “writing” is all over the map, so I can understand how  analysis would reflect that by serving up random authors; and second, I can understand the tactic of sucking up to a potential customer by listing names of great authors whose names even I would recognize.

    But, three out of the next four submittals returned the author H.P. Lovecraft, who I was not familiar with until google told me that he was an early 20th century “horror” writer.

    I suppose the computer is either confusing “horror” for “horrible,” or it is gently hinting at a more accurate assessment of my writing skills.

    Either way, I get it. And I will not be subscribing to their “awesome free newsletter.”

    • #14
  15. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    OK, I admit it, the thingy said Iron Mike Tyson.   I tried another post and it said Stephanie Meyer.

    • #15
  16. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    I chucked in some writing and got told I write like Chuck Palahniuk, whom I looked up and discovered wrote Fight Club.  Apparently the first rule about my writing is don’t talk about my writing.

    • #16
  17. user_189393 Inactive
    user_189393
    @BarkhaHerman

    William Gibson?  Who is that? (I write like…)

    • #17
  18. Foxman Inactive
    Foxman
    @Foxman

    Dave_L:

    . Regardless, there’s something profoundly philosophical about a drunken Irishman. Any drunken Irishman.
    Drunken Irishman is redundant ;-)

    • #18
  19. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    From three different posts, three different answers:

    David Foster Wallace, Mario Puzo, and Arthur C. Clarke.

    However, when I combined those three posts together, I got:

    David Foster Wallace (when in order above 1, 2, 3)

    H.P. Lovecraft (ordered 2, 3, 1)

    H.P. Lovecraft (ordered 3, 2, 1)

    • #19
  20. user_697797 Member
    user_697797
    @

    Snirtler:
    Using my one multi-paragraph post that survived the migration to 2.0, I got David Foster Wallace–whom I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never read.

     I ran three chunks of writing through the analyzer and got Wallace all three times. I can’t say I’ve ever read anything by him either. 

    • #20
  21. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas
    @CUDouglas

    I write like Ursula K. LeGuin. Not too bad, really. I’ve liked a lot of her work. I can dig it.

    • #21
  22. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Now I’ve gotta find something I’ve written that’s actually an original piece and not simply a cut-and-paste mashup.

    I think the last really original think I’ve written is on an old Mac Classic gathering dust in a basement somewhere.

    • #22
  23. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    My post on the decline and fall of the banana was apparently written by Cory Doctorow. So was my most recent post on music – unless it was written by David Foster Wallace or Shakespeare (IWL coudn’t seem to make up its mind about that). If I post on SSM and homosocksuality, I apparently write like William Gibson.

    I find it rather fitting that when I write about music composed by Gesualdo, I write like James Joyce. (Too bad Rico 2.0 ate my post on this.)

    In other news, Dan Brown apparently can’t speak French. At least, that is my only explanation for IWL attributing this post to him.

    • #23
  24. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    I tried it using three different semi-original blog posts. I got three different results: Harry Harrison, James Joyce, and H.P. Lovecraft.

    I question the methodology.

    • #24
  25. Kelly B Member
    Kelly B
    @KellyB

    I threw in a bunch of random text from a personal blog, and got different results each time:

    • Gertrude Stein (um, really? Isn’t she the author of “Pigeons on the grass, alas”?)
    • Margaret Atwood (never read anything of hers, but the name is familiar)
    • David Foster Wallace (who?)
    • PG Wodehouse (wow – I wish!)

    So, apparently, I write like Sybil (or Eve, as in “three faces of”).

    • #25
  26. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Has anybody tried testing the system by entering works by famous artists?

    If it is unable to correctly identify a particular famous author …

    • #26
  27. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    The issues I see here is that everybody is feeding the machine blog type posts and not stories.  All of the authors programmed into the machine thing are novelists not essayists.  Last I checked there is not a lot of dialog or scene descriptions in blog posts.

    • #27
  28. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Misthiocracy:
    Has anybody tried testing the system by entering works by famous artists?
    If it is unable to correctly identify a particular famous author …

    I did, and it didn’t.

    To be fair, though, I was testing whether it could reliably attribute famous poetry. It can’t.

    • #28
  29. Kelly B Member
    Kelly B
    @KellyB

    Misthiocracy:
    Has anybody tried testing the system by entering works by famous artists?
    If it is unable to correctly identify a particular famous author …

     I pasted this Wodehouse quote in:

    I am strongly of the opinion that, after the age of twenty-one, a man ought not to be out of bed and awake at four in the morning. The hour breeds thought. At twenty-one, life being all future, it may be examined with impunity. But, at thirty, having become an uncomfortable mixture of future and past, it is a thing to be looked at only when the sun is high and the world full of warmth and optimism.

    And, apparently, he writes like George Orwell.

    • #29
  30. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    I entered The Velvet Glove by Harry Harrison.

    The site said it was written like Cory Doctorow.

    • #30
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