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July 15, 2010

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Oh shit! I write like Dan Brown!

I don't know; I don't think I've ever seen you use footnotes within footnotes.

David Brooks writes like Kurt Vonnegut.

Apparently the man who compiled the "I write like" meme used a list of 37 white men and 3 white women.

He also (when a rather more diverse list of suggested authors was sent to him) responded:

I *absolutely* will not add people into the database due to their race or gender. I will not search for lists of white, black, Asian, Hispanic, or any other types of people that you _took care to differentiate_. All people are equal to me, and equality means not looking at skin color or different types of chromosomes.
And it "just happened" that the 40 writers he could think of were mostly men and all white.

(The three women whose names occurred to him were J. K. Rowling, Margaret Atwood, and Jane Austen.)

Samuel R. Delany, Octavia E. Butler, Maya Angelou, Chinua Achebe, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde...

Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, George Eliot, Alice Walker, Dorothy L. Sayers, E. Nesbit, Ursula K. LeGuin...

[wretch]

I threw in a review I recently wrote of a classical CD. The result was HP Lovecraft. I could just see it: many-tentacled Cthullu, summoned by his dwarven followers, to play the role of Adriana Lecouvreur. Sure. Makes sense.

i got Lovecraft for a review i did of Ken Burns' "Jazz" documentary.

having never read Lovecraft, i have no idea what that means.

I write like David Foster Wallace, too. I used the first wordy e-mail I could find in my sent e-mail folder. It was regarding power modifications to a scissor lift. Ha.

I tried various things I'd written, and got Lovecraft, Dan Brown, and Margaret Atwood. My Raymond Chandler pastiche got Steven King, as did some Monty Pythonish stuff. I consider the site worthless.

i would expect that if i put my stuff into the same "thingy", i would be told that i write just like some guy who has yet to be born.

It just kept telling me to try again......

I can't speak to the others, but Ursula K. Le Guin is in there. She was one of my results.

David Foster Wallace for me, too.

In my case, I think that translates to "Too many words dude".

From Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules For Writing I offer myself this bon mot:

Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

And it "just happened" that the 40 writers he could think of were mostly men and all white.

There's a lot of room between his selections being non-random and him having bad intent. My guess is that he used his personal reading list, possibly padded with a few very famous authors he included because you "have" to include Shakespeare and the like, as the basis for his program. If you start from that assumption, you can guess that he's chosen (mostly) dead, (entirely) white (mostly) males because as a white male they speak to his interests. Of course that doesn't excuse him from taking such a snide tone when somebody points out how shallow his pool of writers is.

That said, you can criticize his choice of authors for being narrow in a lot of other ways. One obvious one is that his list is skewed very heavily toward F&SF. But more generally it's dominated by fiction writers. There are a few partial exceptions- Shakespeare was a poet, Swift wrote essays, and Wilde wrote plays- but I'm betting that the corpora used were predominantly novels and short fiction. That results in at least as narrow a focus as leaving out (most) women and people of color. Can't historians, journalists, essayists, and even diarists have as interesting a style as writers of fiction?

I did this when it popped up on Baloon Juice, and these were my results:

I fed it the story blurbs from these two photos and it said Stephen King.

I fed it this rant and it said Edgar Allen Poe.

That said, this comment from that BJ thread is worth reading.

Also, OT but I found this when searching for specific comments on ObWi. WTF?

You weren't supposed to see that Catsy. Now you've ruined everything.

You will be visited shortly by two men in navy blue suits. Do what they say.

Lawl. Robots.txt is your friend. :)

Wait, aren't we always supposed to do what men in navy blue suits tell us?

^ Don't ask, don't tell.

i tried it again, same text, and got DF Wallace. tried it five more times, got Wallace each time.

i thought i smelled a rat. then it ran away.

i thought i smelled a rat. then it ran away.

I still smell a rat. Maybe it just numbers the writers 0 through n and counts the occurrences of, say, lower-case a's, modulus n. Same text, same result, with no correlation to writing style. (Why am I bothering to think about this at all?)

I think David Foster Wallace must be the default or something, because that seems to be what most people get.

I got H. P. Lovecraft twice. If I could just learn to stop calling everything squamous and eldritch, maybe I could score a Margaret Atwood.

If I could just learn to stop calling everything squamous and eldritch

Yeah, good luck with that.

the app is cute, but the title of this post has gotten that jackson 5 song running through me head.

somebody please make it stop.

Roger: There's a lot of room between his selections being non-random and him having bad intent.

Racism and sexism do not stop being bad just because they're unconscious/institutionalised. It is not necessary to show bad intent to show that a pattern of selection is racist and sexist.

Then again, I do actually agree with hsh:

Why am I bothering to think about this at all?

Word.

Or rather, words. Squamous and eldritch ones, preferably.

Jackson 5 song? It's a Morrissey ref, shurely?

It was from The Smiths.

I write like Dan Brown!

Me too, apparently.

No wonder I stopped front-paging. I loathe Dan Brown.

Or possibly what Jesurgislac said. Maybe if you throw in a lot more authors, I'd write like Charlotte Brontë.

Jackson 5 song? It's a Morrissey ref, shurely?

I'm old. Humor me.

russell, the one you're thinking of is "The Love You Save."

This should put you right.

I got James Joyce with this:

Immolate gastronomy, fickle stenographer. The prattling machine dispenses its sanguinary verisimilitude without sandwiches, as the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. To prosper is to suffer when among those wearing hoary beards, though wise men learn more from fools than fools from wise men. See spot. See spot run. Chilean sea bass is a name commonly used in restaurants for Patagonian tooth fish to make it sound more appetizing.

Please no. Professionally, it tells me Arthur C. Clark (love it). But personally, James Joyce??!!!! Are you kidding me? I put in a letter to my grandma and that's what it told me, then an 8-page letter to my niece after my nephew died and it said the same thing.

I did get David Foster Wallace for one work thing.

Every week we go to town to get groceries. When we get home, we go to the beach.

Stephanie Meyer

Every week we go to town to get groceries. When we get home, we go to church.

Ernest Hemingway

Every week we go to town to get groceries, and when we get home, we go to church.

Mark Twain

*****

Heh.

Every week we go to town to get groceries, and as soon as we get home, we go to the chess tournament.

Stephen King

JanieM, you evil scientist, you.

Every week we go into town to buy groceries, and when we get home, we blog about it.

Harry Harrison

Every week we go to town and get groceries. When we get home, we go to the beech.

Ernest Hemingway

Every week we've gone into town to get groceries. And we get home. We go to sleep.

Stephen King

Heh heh.

Given that my own writing style is fairly strongly influenced by Daniel Keys Moran and Neal Stephenson, I found the results highly amusing.

Goddamn it, I thought it was a Smiths song but then decided it was Morrissey of Bona Drag era.

These kinds of "Which X are you?" toys are fun but, er, completely meaningless. I know we all kind of know that. But the number of dimensions of similarity is infinite, and the number of possible weightings of those dimensions is infinite. The number of plausible weightings given current ideas of "similarity" is not infinite but is very large (and essentially personal, not objective). You'd have to show me that the system was reliably capable of recognizing different works by the same author, for many works and many authors, before I'd even think of taking the answers seriously.

I KNOW I KNOW it's just for fun.

Also this one appears to be in the "Sell junk to aspiring writers" sleaze category. I was expecting self-publishing offers but this is just "How to get your book noticed" kits.

I told you I was no fun. Also, the Easter Bunny is really a ferret.

Every week we go to town to get squamous groceries. When we get home, we go to the eldritch beach.

Ursula K. LeGuin.

Oh my.


Goddamn it, I thought it was a Smiths song but then decided it was Morrissey of Bona Drag era.

Which is the only era worth plumming.

But it's from that uplifting little diddy about the Cemetery Gates.

That would be the Cemetry Gates, actually.

Nikolai Gogol, but only by a nose.

When I first saw this at Balloon Juice, I thought it was like those old 'which Star Wars character are you?' right down the the badges you get to include on your blog or website. Looking at it that way, asking the guy to equally include gender and race would be like getting ticked off that there were no Asians in Star Wars.

But if you looked at this as if it were some sort of accurate representation of the universe of writing styles, I could see you getting upset. However, I'm not sure why one should take a page with a widget as a 'scientific' test and it is interesting that it seems so many people have. Admittedly 'analyze your writing' implies some more systematic program, but I have stacks of books on graphology and other crap science (I have them because they are great fun to develop exercises for EFL students because it allows them to input their individual characteristics and come up with lots of interesting vocabulary describing themselves, which is a lot more interesting for them)

While I understand taking umbrage at the list of authors, I'm not altogether sure at what point this shifts from being one person's reading list (and you say 'gee, you really don't know what you are missing if you haven't read xxx) to some sort of canon (and you say 'How dare you think this covers everything).

Jesurgislac

I hope you will address this oversight by creating your own site - and when you include more women and more colored folks, I hope you also take pains to include LGBT folks (and do NOT just throw a couple of gay guys in there and assume that satisfies your responsibilities to transgender community) as well as people from other countries that write in English.

Oh, and don't forget to include amputees.

Thanks.

What Gary K said.

My excuse is that I was involved in a poor discussion about philosophy, not attempting to write a novel.

I sent the BJ link to my daughter this morning. It came back Dan Brown for her. She nearly destroyed a desk full of her employer's expensive stuff.

I wondered if it wasn't a real algorithm, just some kind of key name randomizer. But I don't know enough about code-monkeying to discuss it intelligently.

Or at all.

I bet Thullen comes up James Joyce, though.

David Foster Wallace, too.

So far, I write like Stephen King, David Foster Wallace, Mary Shelley, Dan Brown, and Charles Dickens.

You're in good company Eric. I pasted in some Hemingway and apparently he writes like David Foster Wallace too.

It may well be a scam. I submitted 2 samples and the first analysed as like Kurt Vonegut and the second as like David Foster Wallace. There may be a limited range of replies given more or less at random.

It may be abait site to entice would be writers to spend money on improving their writing by flattering them.

I saw this a few days ago and after getting verdicts on my writing from Vonnegut to Wallace, I pasted in a chapter of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, and the response came back "You write like Raymond Chandler".

So if you were disappointed when it responded that you write like Dan Brown, when you were thinking that you wrote like Kurt Vonnegut, take solace in the fact that apparently Vonnegut doesn't writing like Vonnegut either.

Fed in some porn, it said Steven King. Fed in a blog post, it said Mario Puzo.

An offer I couldn't refuse?

I write Lovecraft http://toadfishmonastery.com/forum/index.php?action=printpage;topic=395.0>parodies but this 'analyzer' does not recognize it.
D.F.Wallace is the most common answer, if I put in part sof the collection (or all of it).

'a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z' D.F. Wallace
'AB CD EF GH IJ KL MN OP QR ST UV WX YZ' Mark Twain

'ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ': For reliable results paste at least a few paragraphs (not tweets).

'ABC DEF GHI JKL M NO PQR STU VWX YZ': Margaret Mitchell

Every week we go to town to get groceries, and when we get home we celebrate Christmas.

Stephen King

Every week we go to town to get groceries, and when we get home we celebrate Yule.

J. K. Rowling

Every week we go to town to get groceries, and when we get home we celebrate Easter.

Mario Puzo

Every week we go to town to get groceries, and when we get home we celebrate Bastille Day.

Charles Dickens

Damn you Boothisman.

Seriously, my ability to spell words correctly has degraded remarkably during the past 9 months of sleep deprivation and child-raising distractions.

He's like the cutest zombie you've ever seen, slowly nibbling away at my brain.

I got several DFWs, one Stephen King, one William Shakespeare, and one H.P. Lovecraft (for this: http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2003/12/brave_new_world.html).

He's like the cutest zombie you've ever seen, slowly nibbling away at my brain.

Interesting. I've long noted how parents seem to lose intelligence, at least until the offspring is in their early/mid 20s. At least, subjectively.

At least now we have some inkling where the blame for that effect lies.

He's like the cutest zombie you've ever seen, slowly nibbling away at my brain.

BTW, this came back Stephenie Meyer.

When my older daughter was a newborn and still sleeping in the bassinette in our bedroom (before we gave up on the "always put your baby to sleep on her back" thing, which just didn't work for her), she would constantly grunt and groan through the night. My brain took this sound while I was sleeping as a soundtrack for dreams about zombies. And I like zombie movies, so I had lots of visuals to draw from as well. I spent many a night fleeing from and killing zombies in my dreams thanks to my middle child. Some of them were pretty damned scary, too.

When babies hit around 6-months or so, they do a lot of zombie-like things, having developing nervous systems and only so much control over their movements. It's much like the degraded control zombies have in most film depictions. Just watch them try to feed themselves around that age, and you'll see what I mean. It's very George Romero, only with baby-food smears substituting for blood smears and mashed peas instead of human entrails.

So, yeah, babies = zombies.

I've long noted how parents seem to lose intelligence, at least until the offspring is in their early/mid 20s.

You write like Mark Twain.

Ah, the old ObWi spirit still lives on, I'm pleased to see.

An old ObWi post gave me Poe. OK, I guess.

I read and enjoyed some Lovecraft after encountering Shrillblog. Take that recommendation for what it's worth.

On sleep deprivation, my wife and I used to joke that we were being trained to resist interrogation. How innocent we were back then.

And why is a raven like a writing desk?

Talk about zombie children
Photobucket

tinybubbles: I hope you will address this oversight by creating your own site - and when you include more women and more colored folks, I hope you also take pains to include LGBT folks (and do NOT just throw a couple of gay guys in there and assume that satisfies your responsibilities to transgender community) as well as people from other countries that write in English.

I will also not use it to pimp for a vanity press.

Sarah Death Palin has her own words.

She "refudiates" ........ everything.

And then claims she's a regula Shakespeare oveh heah.

Don't you mean "Shakespeah"?

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