There’s a meme going on among English-language blogs: «I Write Like…» (this or that famous English or American author). Here’s Russell Blackford, for instance. It’s a little test: copy-paste a block of your immortal prose (fiction, article, blog post…) in the box and click Analyze. In a few seconds, wonder of wonders, the result appears!
(Yes, it’s a viral promotion tool for a publisher vanity publisher. Still pretty nifty, though. Edit: In fact, pretty crappy. See below for details.)
But frankly, I’m puzzled. Of course, I pasted one of my old English posts. Problem: I only have very short texts on this blog. I doubt it’s enough for a realistic «analysis», even a very sketchy one.
And sure enough, when I tried several other posts in the I Write Like machine, I received very different diagnostics: apparently, I write not only «like» Raymond Chandler, but also like William Gibson (?), James Joyce (??), Fenimore Cooper, Arthur C. Clarke, Dan Brown (aaargh…) and Stephen King!
Now, if only I could find the way to write like me…
P.S. Curiouser and curiouser. It tried pasting the above post in the IWL box, and this time the result was… Edgar Allan Poe.
P.P.S. Upon further analysis (see Making Light), it seems that the IWL algorithm is not even worth the electrons it’s written with. I was curious enough to paste in a text in French, just to see if IWL would recognize that the language wasn’t even English. Sure enough, it didn’t. But it said that I wrote like Shakespeare!
Sad, sad, sad.
P.P.P.S. Worse than worthless: the IWL meme/test is a lure for none other than Thomas Nelson, «Christian publisher», but also vanity publisher!
P.P.P.P.S. New developpement in the IWL on-going saga! The test’s creator, one Dmitry Chestnykh, has chimed in to explain he has no link to Thomas Nelson or it’s chairman Michael Wyatt, except that the publisher paid to have an ad on his site. Fair enough. And when he understood about the vanity publishing business, Dmitry took down the ad. Now, there’s one for Stephen King’s On Writing, which is a no-nonsense book and not a bad primer for aspiring writers.