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I Write Like
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The website I Write Like allows you to check which famous writer you write like using a statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them with those of famous writers.

How could I resist? First I plugged in my fairly recent blog about the old Victrola and was informed I wrote like Stephen King. Wow? Was the essay that scary?

While King is one of my favorite authors I like to think my essay style was inspired by the old New Yorker essayists. Still, if the novels Mary and I collaborate on are written in the style of Stephen King you'd think our sales would be better. So I tried out the first chapter of Eight For Eternity. Uh oh. David Foster Wallace! Isn't his stuff a bit complicated? Well, I know he has a literary reputation. Surely that's not us. I tried a later chapter. James Joyce. Ah...there's our problem. Who wants to read a mystery novel by David Foster Wallace and James Joyce?

I figured I'd better investigate further. I entered a bunch of Mary's essays and was informed she writes like David Foster Wallace. Does that mean it's all Mary's fault then? I tried a batch of my essays, just to be sure. This time, instead of writing like Stephen King I wrote like H.G. Wells. Did Wells write like King?

Curious, I decided to press onward. Mary and I have recently been working on a noirish historical for a short story anthology. When I tested that I was told it resembled H.P.Lovecraft. Well, there's plenty of darkness, we used the word "monstrous" five times, not to mention "Stygian" and the phrase "ancient gods" so that might explain it. Our lamentably unsold Victorian occult thriller also tested as Lovecraftian which maybe isn't suprising considering frequent references to demons. Or maybe it is just our archaic and convoluted writing style and too many big words.

Was there any coherent pattern here? I tried more short stories. Beauty More Stealthy, an old Byzantine mystery, resembled James Joyce and so did a short mystery based on the Pickwick Papers. If you're doing a Dickens pastiche and it comes out sounding like James that good?

Okay, I was getting disturbed. As a final test I scoured my hard drive and found what might be my favorite short story, an Inspector Dorj mystery from Ellery Queen titled Murder on the Trans-Siberian Railway. I did a lot of the final polish on that one and it's probably about my best writing, style-wise. And I was told I write like .....oh no...Chuck Palahniuk! Whose writing, from what little I've read, I detest. Practically made me sick. I can't imagine ever writing a single sentence that would sound like Chuck Palahniuk.

My verdict: I Write Like is total nonesense.

A little addendum. Eerily enough, plugging in excerpts from the works of famous authors I discovered that the site thinks that David Foster Wallace writes like David Foster Wallace, Stephen King writes like Stephen King, Chuck Palahniuk writes like Chuck Palahniuk and James Joyce writes like James Joyce, but that H.P. Lovecraft writes like Dan Brown.

Four our of five isn't bad. Maybe the site is telling me that I, and Mary and I in collaboration, don't have a very distinctive style.

Naw, I think it is just nonenense.

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