Thursday, July 15, 2010

Through the booking glass

I Write Like is a goofy little app/game huge_8_42475 that analyzes an excerpt of your writing and offers up… who you write like.  It doesn’t explain it at all, or give you any insight into who that person is, if you have never heard of them.

But it made me try an experiment of the kind you may remember from my hyperlinking through the Internet until I linked Liberals and Conservatives at their common interest.

If you do remember that, you have been reading this publication far too long.

I pasted a few hundred words into the IWL app – actual fiction, not bloggy stuff – and it determined that I write like David Foster Wallace.

right. exactly.

If you follow the publishing world, especially as reported by the   New York Times Book Review, you’ll begin notice that the best-seller lists, like the Box Office Blockbusters, are dominated by a few names, and often all at the same time (Gladwell, Rowling, Larsson, Palin…. Beck… ) and then there is everyone else.  The truth is that you haven’t heard of most of the people who are published.  (More for the list of Things that do Not Change Whether I Submit Material for Publication or Not).  I’ll write that entry someday.  Or I won’t.  And it won’t matter either way.  harharhar

This essay is going off on a direction I didn’t intend.  It happens every once in a while when someone asks me, “where did you get your MBA?” and I say, “I don’t have an MBA.  I actually have a degree in publishing.”

Pause – curious expression as if checking the ID of the personjoanreally they thought they were talking to.  Gently: “really?”

Here’s what I did – if I write like Wallace, who does IWL say Wallace writes like?  I pasted in Amazon’s excerpt from Girl With the Curious Hair (tattoo) and clicked enter;

Wallace writes like Stephen King, it says.

Stephen King writes like…Stephen King.  I couldn’t fool it.  So I chose Richard Bachman, the  pseudonym King uses so he can further dominate the NYT List.

“Richard Bachman” writes like Daniel Defoe .  I start to think wewillem_dafoe have little chance of circling back to Wallace, much less to me.






Daniel Defoe writes like Daniel Defoe, and this game is not as fun as I had hoped it would be.   I suppose if you have written Moll Flanders, you are in a class by yourself

There are some academics among our Readership who will know who Wallace is – who may have even read him.  They know a lot of things we don’t.  They may know he was briefly a member of the Emerson family; they certainly know he committed suicide -- at my age even – because we watch these things in each other.

caryI thought all writers drank to excess and beat their wives.”  ~~ CK Dexter Haven

I have not read David Foster Wallace (this post is now climbing higher in the search results).  What if an anonymous website with a conceptual search engine is write right? 

Short stories filed under Fiction.  enjoy.


  1. "we watch these things in each other."

    I love that.

  2. Did you get DFW more than once with different passages of your work? I got Cory Doctorow and HP Lovecraft with two different pieces of writing. Weird.

  3. Okay - so I'm totally going to do this now. I'll be back.

  4. Hey what do you know... on my more "literary" stuff, I also got David Foster Wallace. Maybe that's why we get along so well. :-) On almost all of my blog stuff, I got Cory Doctorow.

    I'm kinda hoping if I could find an exerpt to put into the tool, it would say he writes like me. Probably a long shot.


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