Sunday, October 30, 2011


     I saw an interesting post on Facebook for “I Write Like” at “Check which famous writer you write like with this statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them with those of the famous writers.” Not wanting to do the dishes (hey, I poked a nice hole in my foot with the pin from my belt buckle last night when I stepped on it, and I  don’t want to stand for any length of time), or start any serious writing before football starts at noon, I thought it might prove an interesting diversion to test my mettle against the masters.

In homage to the St. Louis Cardinal’s World Series victory, here is the breakdown in baseball terms:

Round 1: Earth Angel--H.P. Lovecraft  Every kind of entity one has ever heard of, and many that one hasn’t, dwells or dwelt somewhere in the Seven Realms. This includes the Sixth Realm --Demonside. Cthullu and its ilk are there somewhere. I score this one as a hit.

Round 2: “Psyche and Metaphysic"--Harry Harrison.  Set in the 1800‘s, a slightly sociopathic young girl writes a letter to her cousin about how she framed her arch rival for the murder of a boy who didn’t realize that he was secretly engaged to the girl. I don’t see much of the Stainless Steel Rat in this one. Score it as a called third strike.

Round 3: “Sinful One"--Mark Twain. An itinerant evangelist takes advantage of a young, southern girl. The girl’s speech is reminiscent of Twain. Score it as a single up the middle, first and third.

Round 4: “Feeling No Pain"--Chuck Palahniuk.  I never heard of Palahniuk before this analysis. So this one gets an intentional walk, creating a force at any base.

Round 5: The Flow of Magic--Dan Brown. Since the book is the sequel to Earth Angel, and the analyzed passage included a two story Siberian Wood Frog, I expected to return to Lovecraft. I haven’t actually read Brown, but I hated the movie of The Da Vinci Code. Score this one as a fielder’s choice, out at the plate.

Round 6: “87 LE’s"--David Foster Wallace. I’m not familiar with Wallace. So this one has to be another base on balls. Run scores.

Round 7: “Saving Kiefer: A Power Pack Girls Adventure"--Arthur Clarke.  In this Seven Realms Tale, the six year old Power Pack Girls go on a quest to save their friend, a golden banded keefrip. More fantasy than science fiction, the story opens with a futuristic shower. Score this one as a single past the drawn in infield, run scores, bases remain loaded.

Round 8: The Mercies of Cinderella--Anne Rice. Cinderella’s Step-relations have been convicted of treason for their conspiracy to keep Prince Charming from finding his true love. Before their sentencing, Cinderella takes them into her custody for a year to determine whether she can speak on their behalves.  The fairy tale setting and bdsm themes are comparable to Rice’s “Beauty” trilogy. I’ve had another published author make that comparison. The analyzer knocked this one out of the park, a grand slam.

Round 9: “Andromeda and Perseus Before They Were Stars"--Kurt Vonnegut. This story is a significantly revised retelling of the Andromeda and Perseus story before she met the serpent. It may be twisted far enough to fall into the Vonnegut school. Score this one as a single to left.

Round 10: “The Snallygaster Rides Again"--Stephen King. A snallygaster is a noisy ghost or a trouble making spirit or creature, in this case, a winged dragon-like creature who delights in getting an age playing housewife in trouble. While King could certainly craft a horror story using a snallygaster, this tale is light and humorous. Score this one as a deep fly, hauled in on the track to end the inning.

Final score:  Analyzer--six runs on five hits and two walks, the big blow being a grand slam for The Mercies of Cinderella, and one left stranded.

Post Game Post-Mortem:  On more than one occasion, I’ve talked to author friends who were upset by an unfavorable review. My standing advice is to examine the review to determine whether there are any significant objective criticisms, and take those criticisms for whatever they are worth. Did the reviewer identify a gaping plot hole? Were there numerous spelling or grammatical errors? If so, correct whatever you can and learn from it. As to the subjective elements of the review, ignore them. The writing may be brilliant, but not to the reviewer’s tastes.
     At first blush, the analyzer’s findings are like the subjective components of a review. Although the analyzer supposedly is a “statistical analysis tool”, I do not know what the criteria are for analysis, how detailed and accurate the criteria are, or how accurately the criteria are applied to each passage. Accordingly, I should just ignore them. Nonetheless, I am pleased that ten different stories came back with ten different authors. It tells me that my writing isn’t limited to one formulaic style.  
     While I want recurring characters to sound like their prior incarnations, I do not want them all to sound like every other character I create. I do not want my stories to fall into clearly defined niches. Every story deserves its own voice. That said, any critic who wants to compare my work favorably to H.P. Lovecraft, Harry Harrison, Mark Twain, Chuck Palahniuk, Dan Brown, David Foster Wallace, Arthur Clarke, Anne Rice, Kurt Vonnegut, or Stephen King should feel free to do so. I won’t take offense. 


Copyright 2011

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