A little Rowling here, a little Twain there

If you ask a question often enough, you’re bound to eventually get the answer you want.

Today one of the members of the Columbia Missouri Novelists Facebook page posted what could be either the most instructive, inspiring link or the most vanity-laden, time-wasting link.

I Write Like … You paste a sample of your work into a box, click “analyze,” and within seconds you find out your word choice and writing style compares favorably with — which famous author. I quickly yielded to temptation, certain that I could embrace or reject any conclusion.

I encourage you to give it a try.

First I submitted two samples from my current work, “Dixieland,” the 2012 National Novel Writing Month project. Both analyses determined the word choice and style compared favorably with H.P. Lovecraft. That was baffling, because I neither read nor write science fiction or “weird fiction,” the genre that Lovecraft basically birthed. So I copied and pasted another “Dixieland” sample that compared favorably with Stephenie Meyer.

The Twilight Saga? What? Flattering as that was, I have to confess that I also don’t read — and really have zero interest in — paranormal romance, vampires and werewolves, and death-pale young men and women.

So I sought additional analysis. Next to copy-and-paste was a dialogue-heavy scene from “Chasing The Devil,” my 2011 NaNoWriMo project. (Still unfinished, still unpublished). The analysis reported: J.K. Rowling. (Here’s the link if you think I’m fibbing). Again — sorry. I’ve read maybe six pages of the Harry Potter series. Wizards, sorcery, Harry himself — just not my cup ‘o tea.

Or is it? Meyer has made a gazillion bucks with her Twilight series; Rowling has made a trilabilagazillion bucks from Harry Potter. Hmmm?

Let’s try some more. Two selections from “Gone” (2010, NaNoWriMo). Different conclusions but familiar results: Meyer for one, Rowling for the other.

Still not satisfied, I reached into the archives of Jackson’s Journal to one of my favorite blog posts, Aug. 17, 2012, the conclusion of a three-part story of the time I almost drowned in the Gasconade River. Surely this would break the Lovecraft-Meyer-Rowling spell?

I pasted the copy, hit “analyze,” and this time the answer didn’t come right away. I laughed out loud at the conclusion.

“Mark Twain.” Ahhh! A kindred spirit, a fellow journalist.

So I had to check one more time, pasting the copy of a news story from April 2009. (It’s a horribly tragic story if you care to read it). The story was awarded second place for spot news reporting in that year’s Missouri Associated Press Managing Editors annual competition.

The analytic conclusion? “Mark Twain.”

twain and friends

It was a fun exercise in vanity, but more than that, as I perused my unfinished, novel-length works, it was a stark reminder that I have too many unfinished, novel-length works screaming to get out of their desktop folders, out of my noggin and into the hands of readers.

And that’s where any real or imagined similarities with famous authors end. They’ve actually finished a book or two.

Excuse me, then. I have some work to do.

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7 Comments

Filed under "Dixieland", "Gone", A reporter's life, Chasing The Devil, Living Write, MIP: Memoir-in-progress, National Novel Writing Month 2012, WIPs

7 responses to “A little Rowling here, a little Twain there

  1. My own vanity was not fed with Stephanie Meyer or Mark Twain. I did get Lovecraft, for my blog posts. The others registered as Anne Rice (ironically for my fantasy series) and Daniel Defoe for my mysteries. Not that I’m not flattered by the comparison to Defoe, but honestly… I don’t think I’m that kind of writer. It is interesting that we got similar results with duplicate authors as the others in our group seemed to have extremely varied results.

    • I think of myself as more of a storyteller. I want my writing to have a conversational tone, a narrative that isn’t forced. I think your work is more descriptive than you give yourself credit for. We tend to use words that elicit emotion and movement.

  2. Interesting, I got Gertrude Stein (for my nanowrimo novel), Corey Doctorow (?)(for a short fantasy story), and Dan Brown (for a family memoir)! I wonder what the analysis is based on.

  3. Sharon Assel

    Your writing is a LOT more like Mark Twain than Rowling–can’t really see a lot of similarity to the Potter books at all, but lots to Mark Twain–so glad the survey (or whatever that was called!) finally saw the light!

    • Well, I knew YOU would agree with that. Pretty cool, huh? I’m not sure how the website analyzes what it receives. I wonder if I pasted in Mark Twain if the program would recognize Mark Twain? None of it is bad company though.

  4. Ruby Jackson

    This is the last blog I have received and am missing reading them. Please send me your blogs daily or as often as your write.

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