Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I Write Like H. P. Lovecraft?

No cutting comparisons or lofty praise here, just a piece of prose (your choice as to what to submit-- I used something from the story I'm working on; more on that below) "statistically analyzed" to produce some vaguely astrological answer to that burning question: What writer do I most write like? As the site itself somewhat inelegantly puts it:

Check what famous writer you write like with this statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them to those of the famous writers.

My own answer you will have already gleaned from the title to this post, but if you must have proof, here it is. H. P. Lovecraft, commonly adduced a not merely baroque writer, but frankly something of a windbag and a buffoon as far as grammar and diction go (to say nothing of his peculiarly vaginal creatures, natch). For much of this year, I have been writing a novel not merely about Lovecraft, but as the man. I might thus be more pleased with the result of this Cosmo-quiz if the particular piece under consideration by I Write Like's algorithms were part of that manuscript. But alas, it was instead the first paragraph of a short story I have spent the last few weeks writing and rewriting. Anyone familiar with the plotline of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward? Only partially vindicated by the fact that Margaret Atwood writes like Stephen King.

Update, 7/14/10: I seem to have missed a trick, not submitting "An Interpretive History of Addition," the story that will appear in Uncanny Valley 1. Here is a page-by-page breakdown by way of apologia:

Page 1: Edgar Allan Poe
Page 2: Kurt Vonnegut
Page 3: George Orwell
Page 4: Stephen King
Page 5: Dan Brown
Page 6: Stephen King
Page 7: Raymond Chandler
Page 8: H. P. Lovecraft
Page 9: Kurt Vonnegut

Now, doesn't that sound like an exquisite exquisite corpse?


  1. Yes, I apparently write like Stephen King approximately 1/2 of the time. Also Palahniuck 1/3 and Nabokov 1/6.

    Was wondering if there was a single woman writer in the program. Most similar programs -- even those touted by their users as unfailingly accurate -- are fairly certain I'm a woman.

  2. Apparently, the only two women that have turned up at IWL so far are Jane Austen and JK Rowling. Perhaps you should be pleased to have that Y chromosome, at least so far as I Write Like is concerned.

  3. It tells me I write like Stephen King 1/4 of the time, Chuck Palahniuck 1/4 of the time, Vladimir Nabokov 1/4 of the time, and Mark Twain 1/4 of the time. I haven't done the full math, but I think I might just say I write like 2 Mike Meginnises added to 1 Mark Twain, multiplied by 2 Nabokovs, all divided by 12 Chuck Palahniucks. I can put that in a cover letter, give people a preview...

  4. It tells me I write like Stephen King 1/2 the time, and DFW the other 1/2.

    Apparently Stephen King writes like EVERYBODY.

  5. That actually makes some sense to me. I think it's mainly going from a few crude measures of word choice and sentence structure. Stephen King is a mixture of "highbrow" and "lowbrow" tendencies by both measures that might, in the hands of a blunt algorithm, make him sort of the most average writer of all time.

  6. I keep seeing the same 10 or so authors pop up as different people play with this toy. I think the more likely explanation is that their database doesn't have very many entries.

    I would be more interested to see what happens if you put a huge number of texts in their similarity-measuring thing and see if any clusters emerge.