Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Write Like...

...James Joyce, apparently. Or is it Stephen King, or maybe Margaret Atwood, or possibly H.P. Lovecraft and maybe sometimes even a smidgeon like Anne Rice? Sometimes I even write like Dan Brown or Stephenie Meyer.

Yes, it's the funky, hot-trending, salve-for-aspiring-writers-everywhere, IWriteLike tool!

It's all a bit of harmless fun really (or a sinister idea-harvesting machine of diabolic proportions). I'm not sure what's whirring away behind the screen, although a previous incarnation of me would postulate they're using some kind of vector space model with maybe some extra doodads to score other metrics such as sentence length, etc.

How useful? Probably not very. It's a nice boost to be compared to someone successful and famous, but ultimately the program is only returning whichever writer in their database (I believe there are 40) you happen to be closest to. Close in this case being relative. Even if they’re all clustered tightly together at a position in space marked ‘publishable and famous’ and you’re way off in the void of ‘never-to-be’, one of them is still going to be the closest to you.

What they needed to do was raid the slush piles of a big publishing house to create some more realistic reference points such as ‘rejected for lousy grammar’, ‘rejected for overly flowery language’, ‘rejected for unbearable dullness’, ‘rejected because it doesn’t contain any vampires’ and ‘rejected because our intern fell behind and couldn’t be bothered to read it’. In the absence of those points Dan Brown and Stephenie Meyer appear to have been designated as the badges of shame. Not sure why really. Personally, I’d be quite happy to be told I write like people who’ve amassed bank balances large enough to capsize small islands. :)

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