Identity Crisis

I was reminded by Lois McMaster Bujold of that amusing site “I Write Like” that analyses your writing style. I run my writing through it every so often.  Usually, authors like Clarke and sometimes Asimov from my preferred genres come up, though I wish they had more variety and more recent masters within genres.

I’ve come to think my writing style is steadying. I’m a little wordier than I want and it’s sometimes hard to choose a more common word when there is an obscure word that fits much better. But I’m too close to be able to rate stylistic tendencies. I’m not totally convinced an automated tool can adapt the way a reader can. A SF zombie story could almost be an exact rewrite of Pride and the Prejudice, but the scanner would miss the English Regency style because of the horror nouns.

woman changing faces at a mirrir

Image “Faceless #3” by Benoit Champaign. no changes, under Creative Commons 2.0

So I fed some of my writings into the IWL analysis page, mostly recent writing, and got five different authors.Yesterday’s warning post about phone scammers rated like Chuck Palahnuik. I’ve gotten him before in this tool and have no idea why. A fun little flash fanfic rated as like Vladimir Nabokov. Now, I don’t think I’ve written anything Lolita-like as the characters are much older and more savvy. This does reveal a huge bias in the tool as it seems to prefer capital L literature as a result.** Why doesn’t a chapter of a light romance rate like some name from the romance market? There’s dozens if not hundreds of major romance authors with a bestselling body of work. Why Lolita instead of Jayne Ann Krentz or J R Ward? Or even Barbara Cartland with her virginal heroines and their ancient Greek names?

My next sample is from a SF/Mystery in progress, and that was judged like Arthur C Clark, just for mentions near-space travel and stations. I was going for a different mood, but that’s the challenge still. The tool lacks, as Clark is known more for ideas than characters among readers. I’d prefer to write like Bujold, Lee/Miller, or Weber but I doubt they were on the list for the IWL people. A flash story about  husband-hunter was written like L Frank Baum? My light horror and Wizard of Oz? All you can do with that is shake your head and move on.

The oldest one I checked was about a page’s worth from a longer fanfic of drama and derring-do.  Apparently that hit the flags for Stephenie Meyer. **She is the exception for who I write like, and the only author I’ve seen for mine that isn’t already Literature, or matured into academic respect after thirty or fifty years. I’m not especially happy with that rating as I don’t like her writing for various reasons.  I could pick a diferent POV section for the same novel, and I’m sure it will be a different author.

I’m not sure of this variety of styles is good or bad. Probably good, more variety in storytelling and characters and challenging my habits? Who do you write like?

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