Thursday, July 15, 2010

SWNID Recommends: "I Write Like"

We point the SWNIDish thumbs upward for the clever web site "I Write Like." Purporting to compare a submitted sample of writing to a database on the styles of various famous writers, it offers considerable amusement, perhaps a disturbing revelation or two, and even an introduction to a significant stylist unfamiliar to the user.

We submitted three personal samples. From this blog, one sample was tagged as similar to the style of H. P. Lovecraft. Heretofore unknown to SWNID, our quick read of an excerpt from Lovecraft's ouvre does seem to suggest that he indulged a taste for verbosity no less than our own. We feel less than comfortable with a kinship to the avatar of "weird fiction," however.

A second blog sample yielded comparison to David Foster Wallace, roughly a contemporary of SWNID whose Infinite Jest has been suggested to us as a read suitable for our taste. Maybe it's the long sentences again, or maybe there were footnotes in that sample. At least Wallace is notable for irony, or so we're told.

So we resorted to something written for serious publication. And, dare we say it, the Delphic "I Write Like" compared our humble essay to the bard himself. We guess that we accidentally wrote the entire essay in iambic pentameter, or maybe accidentally threw together a sonnet somewhere in the middle.

At any rate, we should've quit while we were ahead. We submitted another serious, for-publication essay and got the nasty Lovecraft again. Greedy actions always seem to come to such ignominious ends.


Tim Reed said...

Don't underestimate Howard Phillip Lovecraft. While his writing style is a bit archaic now (in fact it was archaic when he wrote as he intentionally wrote in an older style much of the time) he is hugely influential, his most obvious devotee being Stephen King, but really anything in that sort of genre owes something to him.

Additionally, part of the reason why he has such a huge legacy is his devotion to writing letters. He credits much of his creative output to mentoring and being mentored by many different people via letter. The quote that comes to mind: "I found myself opened up to dozens of points of view which would otherwise never have occurred to me. My understanding and sympathies were enlarged, and many of my social, political, and economic views were modified as a consequence of increased knowledge."

Personally I would suggest checking out The Colour Out of Space if you haven't. An excellent example of the genre that has held up well.

JB in CA said...

I was curious. I pasted a selection from James Joyce (Dubliners), and was told he writes like Charles Dickens. Then I pasted a selection from Dickens (Great Expectations), and was told he writes like Daniel Defoe. Then (of course) I pasted a selection from Defoe (Moll Flanders), and was told he writes like Jonathan Swift. Finally, I pasted a selection from Swift (Gulliver's Travels), and was told he writes like ... Jonathan Swift! Talk about irony. They had all been reduced to a satirist.