I Write Like… Everybody

Whenever I find a new toy on the Internet, I approach it like an analytically destructive two-year-old. I like to take the thing, snap it apart to all its tiniest fragments and mash the pieces into the carpet, and clap my hands together while dribble runs down my chin.

You might ask why I behave like this but today I’d like to talk about the new toy.

“I Write Like” is a web site that claims it can determine your writing style based on a pool of famous living and deceased authors. It’s simple: you copy and paste a paragraph of your own prose into the text box, and it generates a match based on your word choice, sentence length, etc. Or just tippity-tap the keyboard at random and get Vladimir Nabokov.

(NOTE: Don’t get this confused with iwritelike.com, which only informs you that you have tried to write like Chuck Norris and failed. I am completely serious.)

Here are a few results from Thwok!

  • My “About” page: Stephen King
  • The second paragraph of my medieval poetry post: Charles Dickens
  • The third paragraph of my Wolf Hall review: H.P. Lovecraft

It’s not bad, it turns out, at guessing the author of an original text–so long as that author’s in its database. It gets it right about half the time (otherwise it thinks King writes like Dan Brown according to an analysis of The Stand, Dickens writes like A.C. Doyle according to an analysis from Great Expectations, and Lovecraft writes like James Joyce according to an analysis of “The Picture in the House”). This is still impressive considering an author’s style is rarely uniform and can resemble that of others in its variances.

Let’s play a game. Leave a comment, and then tell me whose style it apparently emulates based on “I Write Like”‘s results.

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4 thoughts on “I Write Like… Everybody

  1. I tried that ‘iwriteklike.com’ thingy a few months ago and it was fun. Like you, I write like just about everybody, from Nabokov to William Gibson.

    How the bloody thing works is beyond me!

  2. I tried it and got William Gibson, so I decided never to try it again and pretend that I always write like one of my favourite authors.

  3. What a fun website! I entered a paragraph from my recent review of “The People of the Book” by Geraldine Brooks and it suggested that I write like James Joyce – I’ll take that!

    (PS. This comment is written like Robert Louis Stevenson)

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