Caution: contains pie charts!
I’ve been on sick leave for two weeks already and I’m really bored. My main occupation these days is reading other people’s blogs, sometimes from the beginning to the end. So if you guys noticed somebody reading the stuff you’ve written years ago, it was probably me.
So I saw this post on Speaker7 blog that got me curious. There was a link to a software called “I write like” that can apparently analyze your writing style and tell you the style of which famous writer it resembles the most. Speaker7 gave that software a masterpiece of writing about butts and how she liked them (yes, she did) to analyze, that resulted in the software labeling it as work of William Shakespeare.
Although no evidence was preserved about the attitude of this great English writer towards butts of any sizes, I guess a lot of you would have dismissed this software as useless right there. But not me. Not the bored IT consultant.
I have an idea how a computer program works. One thing is for sure: it is based on some algorithm, which is fixed. In this particular case, it means that the results – however weird they might get – must be always consistent if the writing style remains consistent.
Speaker7 analyzed only couple of sentences. I decided to take it to a global level and analyze all my posts using this computer program. Did I mention that I’m in IT and I was really, really bored? I ran couple of paragraphs from the beginning, the middle and the end part of each of my 27 posts that were actual stories and created an Excel sheet to document the results (yes, I did). I didn’t analyze the whole post at once but indeed couple of paragraphs from different places. Couple of paragraphs makes a piece not too short and not too long, and my IT gut was telling me that this will most probably deliver the most accurate results.
Although the database of this software contains over 50 writers, there were only five names dominating throughout 74 pieces of my writing I’ve analyzed. Ok, before I sound more boring than bored, I’d better show you the pretty pictures.
According to this one, my posts were written mostly by five famous people, somehow all men. Also, it is obvious that (excuse my ignorance) some Cory Doctorow helped out a lot, especially at the end. So based on the trend, I’m becoming more and more “Cory” from day to day.
Organized in a nice pie chart, it all looks like this:
Do you know this Cory guy? This was the first time I’ve heard of him, but apparently he is a cool dude. The other guys, of whom I admit I haven’t heard either (except of Stephen King) seem to be not a bad company either. But before I checked them all out on Wikipedia, I did one more thing (yep, I was still pretty bored). I live under impression that things I write are sometimes funny, occasionally even very funny. So I did the same pie chart separately for my funny and non-funny posts. Here’s what I got:
So according to these pie charts, H.P. Lovecraft and Stephan King are the least funny people in the gang. Mr. Wallace and Mr. Palahniuk however seem to be of a jokey type, with Cory joining them when he gets bored of serious discussions with the other two.
Well, now I really needed to find out who these guys were. So here it is, my writers’ team:
Cory Efram Doctorow (born July 17, 1971) is a science fiction novelist, blogger and technology activist. He is the co-editor of the popular weblog Boing Boing, and a contributor to The Guardian, the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, Wired, and many other newspapers, magazines and websites. Yep, I can totally imagine myself being Cory.
Stephen King (born September 21, 1947) is an American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction and fantasy. His books have sold more than 350 million copies and have been adapted into a number of feature films, television movies and comic books. King has published 50 novels, and five non-fiction books. He has written nearly two hundred short stories, most of which have been collected in nine collections of short fiction.
David Foster Wallace (February 21, 1962 – September 12, 2008) was an award-winning American novelist, short story writer, essayist. Wallace used many forms of irony. His novels often combine various writing modes or voices, and incorporate jargon and vocabulary (sometimes invented) from a wide variety of fields. His writing featured self-generated abbreviations and acronyms, long multi-clause sentences. Wallace committed suicide by hanging himself on September 12, 2008.
Howard Phillips “H. P.” Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) was an American author who achieved posthumous fame through his influential works of horror fiction. In his writing, Lovecraft consciously utilized a variety of literary devices to form a unique style of his own – these include conscious archaism, prose-poetic techniques combined with essay-form techniques, alliteration, transferred epithet, metaphor, symbolism, colloquialism, etc.
Charles Michael “Chuck” Palahniuk (born February 21, 1962) is an American novelist and freelance journalist, who describes his work as transgressional fiction. He is best known as the author of the award-winning novel Fight Club, which also was made into a feature film. His writings include a limited vocabulary and short sentences to mimic the way that an average person telling a story would speak. In an interview, he said that he “prefers to write in verbs instead of adjectives”.
I say this computer program is not bad. It shows that my writing style, especially on the stories of similar genre, is consistent. And horror stories aside, I definitely recognize some similarities here. Alliterations, metaphors, colloquialisms, irony, my love of short sentences reasonably spiced with occasional long multi-clause ones. Also, it’s a great feeling to know that these are some real and appreciated writing tools (well, how should I know? I’m in IT. I need a computer program to tell me this).
I guess I’ll be ordering myself some new books now. I’d like to learn more about these other people who write like me.
If you like to see who is writing like you out there, here is again the link to the “I write like” analyzer.