Saturday, July 17, 2010

Like whom do you write?

I wanted the title of this post to be Who do you write like?, but given this post's emphasis on writing style, I felt that dangling a participle in the title would have been a cardinal sin.

At any rate, there's a site called I Write Like, and it will analyze a sample of your writing and compare it to some famous authors' work. (Tip of the hat: Peter Lynn.) So, naturally, I got curious.

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about Detroit. That was a fairly typical passage, I thought, so I plugged it into I Write Like and it compared that to the work of HP Lovecraft. I'd heard the name before, but didn't know much about him; I don't usually read fiction. But, his Wikipedia entry suggests something bizarre:

Lovecraft's guiding literary principle was what he termed "cosmicism" or "cosmic horror", the idea that life is incomprehensible to human minds and that the universe is fundamentally alien. Those who genuinely reason, like his protagonists, gamble with sanity.

So, you reason and you go crazy — or get close. Fantastic.

I dialed the clock back to 2006, and this post about all the free time I had over the Christmas holidays. IWL said I wrote like Raymond Chandler on this one; again, turning to Wikipedia suggests another kooky fellow:

Critics and writers from W. H. Auden to Evelyn Waugh to Ian Fleming, greatly admired Chandler's prose. In a radio discussion with Chandler, Fleming said that the former offered “some of the finest dialogue written in any prose today.” Although his swift-moving, hardboiled style was inspired mostly by Dashiell Hammett, his sharp and lyrical similes are original: "The muzzle of the Luger looked like the mouth of the Second Street tunnel;" "He had a heart as big as one of Mae West's hips;" "Dead men are heavier than broken hearts;" "I went back to the seasteps and moved down them as cautiously as a cat on a wet floor."

Finally, my first post ever, in those crazy days of 2004 was analyzed to be akin to something that Stephen King would write. That's pretty flattering, but a little creepy at the same time.

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