I Write Like Who? – Really? Part 2 of 2

January 14, 2011

This blog further explores my findings using the website, iwl.me, which takes a few paragraphs of your work and reveals what famous authors your writing most resembles.  As noted in Part I, my poetry was compared to the writing of James Joyce and P.G. Woodhouse.  I write in many different arenas and not surprisingly, the findings of this website revealed  my writing style was as diverse as the forums: blogging, novels, and personal essays.  

I was particularly curious to see if a letter I had written for a contest where I was supposed to impersonate Jack London writing a query letter in the present day to sell one of his short stories would indicate I write like Jack London.  Here is the opening paragraph from that letter:

Although I cannot help but feel that the chances run somewhat against me, I am writing to ask you to reconsider your rejection of my short story, “To Build a Fire,” for your esteemed magazine, Alaskan SkyCrest.  I chose your monthly because the readers of your magazine will be flying to or from Alaska, and it would seem certain that my story of 7,096 words would give them great pleasure.  Perhaps, those patrons that proceed to venture into the wilds of Alaska might even be spared the fate of the fire-provider in my story. 

Did I succeed?  Nope.  The website declared I write like Vladimir Nabakov.   I tried the closing paragraph and was informed the writing was comparable to James Fenimore Cooper.   Hmm.  Did I get the right era?  Jack London was born in San Francisco in 1876. Vladimir Nabakov was born in Russia in 1899, but is known as an American novelist.   Not bad.   James Fenimore Cooper was an American born in 1789, almost 100 years prior to Jack London, but again, is described as an American novelist.  At least, I succeeded in writing like an American.  The biggest letdown was when I put in second paragraph, the website suggested a similarity to Dan Brown’s writing. And that’s when the pattern developed.

I have completed two very different novels, one is a contemporary young adult story from the perspective of a sixteen year old girl and the second is historical fiction novel set in the 1700s with a male protagonist.  I took excerpts from various chapters from both of these novels and consistently got the same result:  Dan Brown.  I admit I was a little disappointed, but then I got to thinking about my technique.  I am a plot driven writer.  I pride myself on producing solid endings to my chapters with the intent to keep the reader wanting to turn the page.  My novels both have a sense of an underlying mystery.  I have written my novels for commercial appeal.  To that end, it would appear I do write like Dan Brown.

I put in a few samples of blogs and personal essays that suggested various other authors, including Stephen King.  Not once did Dan Brown pop up, nor did a woman author materialize from the algorithmic analysis.  Guess I write like a man.

What author does your prose most resemble?  Visit  iwl.me to find out and then add a comment on what you discover.

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Taking the wind from my sails

September 27, 2009

For the past few months, I’ve been focused on one writing goal — to get my latest manuscript ready in time for the Jack London Writers Conference. I’ve polished my novel, written a synopsis, and practiced my pitch. My plan was to launch my manuscript at this conference.

The Jack London Writers Conference is hosted by the Peninsula branch of the California Writers Club (CWC) and held every other year. I had attended Jack London two years ago and it was fabulous — entertaining key-note speakers, great sessions on craft, and lots of agents. There were fewer literary agents participating this time. And yet I’d booked an appointment with an agent who would be a great match for my novel.

Yesterday, I learned that the Jack London Writers Conference has been cancelled – another casualty of the slumping economy and troubled publishing industry. No conference writing contest (which I had entered), no inspiring talks, no networking, and no appointment with that promising literary agent. Rats!

It is doubly sad that this cancellation should happen this year, during the CWC’s centennial celebration. “Sail On!” is the club’s motto. Yes, the CWC will sail onward, as will I. But yesterday’s sad news took some of the wind out of my sails.