It is a truth universally acknowledged that I am channeling Jane Austen

Yesterday, in full-fledged literary geek mode, I wrote this post in tribute to Jane Austen on the day of her birth. I therefore found it surprisingly appropriate that this morning, when I stumbled across the I Write Like analyzer, that according to the sample I submitted,

I write like
Jane Austen

I Write Like
by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze
your writing!

At the tender age of 12, when my classmates were immersed in Choose your Own Adventure Stories and the Baby-Sitters club books, I fed my mind on a steady diet of Austen and the Bronte sisters. (Admittedly I did read a few of the Baby-Sitters Club stories). In any case, this was also roughly the period when I began to produce my own “Juvenilia”, dabbling in poetry, fiction, and, I confess, fanfiction. It shouldn’t therefore surprise anyone that my voice echoes that of the writers I was reading at the time. Still, because I’m nothing if not inquisitive, I wondered just how versatile my writing is. A page of my dissertation run through the analyzer claimed that

I write like
H. P. Lovecraft

I Write
Like
by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

and another blog sample apparently indicates that

I write like
Margaret Atwood

I Write
Like
by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

A sample of the Sherlock Holmes article I’m working on at present compares me with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, though my minimal powers of deductive reasoning conclude that this has little to do with my own way with words; rather I think the analyzer detected a few direct quotations from /A Study in Scarlet/. I’m surprised the analyzer didn’t begin flashing red and accusing me of being a plagiarizing fraud.

As randomly generated as the results are, it’s interesting and a bit entertaining to see how well they do—or don’t—compare with how we describe our own writing voices. I always tell my students that the best writers are good readers, and just as we learn to speak by listening to our parents, we learn to write by emulating other writers. The Austen result was predictable but gratifying; the Atwood pleasantly surprising, the Lovecraft, slightly off-putting, and I’m somewhat disconcerted about the future of my dissertation. It could have been far worse though, I suppose; I could write like Danielle Steel.

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2 Comments »

  1. John said

    Oh, dang you just stuck it to Steele! Haha. She’s never been high on my likes list anyway. I think you do have a British tint to your writing, but yeah that’s not surprising.

    • poetprodigy7 said

      I did kind of stick it to steel, but let’s be honest, there’s nothing particularly special about her writing.

      that said, there’s always a niche in the market for light entertainment reading, and if that’s her gift, then so be it. I just don’t find her writing particularly entertaining. she’s decent with descriptive writing, but I don’t think much of her plotlines.

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