There is nothing cooler than being told you write like one of the greats. Usually.
If you have never submitted an excerpt from your WIP or book or a poem to I Write Like…, you should. It is normally an amusing experience for me because inevitably it tells me I write like someone I have never read. Ergo, it is a way for me to expand my reading experience.
I am a long time connoisseur and critic of literature, particularly classic literature. While I also have a vast cornucopia of contemporary authors on my shelves in various states of dogearedness, I prefer those things written before the 19th century, with very few exceptions.
One of the large exceptions to my enjoyment of classic literature is Shakespeare. After allowing for the constraints of his time, the one credit I can bestow is his characters are deeply enmeshed in his story lines. Where I critique him is plot stuffing.
Yes, I understand he was writing plays. Yes, I understand the audiences were expecting said plays to last a requisite amount of time, with a prescribed number of acts. So what?
Stretching of plot until it is thin enough to read newsprint through is trying to my nerves and an affront to valuing my time as a reader. Due forgiveness for his intent for play goers and not readers. Still, large portions of what Shakespeare wrote is frankly boring.
I am not handicapped by the Middle and Old English. In fact, the romance of the language is one of the draws for me to have consumed as much of his writing as I have outside the confines of a rather strict British literature professor, who, incidentally, believed Shakespeare indeed was The Great Bard.
What in the world has be up in arms about Shakespeare? Imagine my chagrin to input one of the poems which appears exclusively in Mantra’s Book of Shadows to get this…
Yeah, yeah. Laugh it up. So far, my close friends have fallen off their chairs holding their sides under the coffee table when I told them. In between peals of laughter, I lightened up and thought about a computer program likening me to someone I care nothing about.
Part of what I hate about Shakespeare is the mechanics, the unwavering schemata altar onto which his content was sacrificed. The light bulb went on like a Q-beam.
My mechanics are masked by terse or dramatic dialogue with classic wordplay which even Shakespeare would have understood, and my pieces are not unduly long.
Wait a minute! I know. Some of the poems I write are long by today’s standards. The poem I submitted is four pages and over 700 words. On the other hand, it is not five acts of iambic pentameter quatrains. I have left a codicil to my will for someone to pull Mantra’s wings off if I write anything in iambic pentameter.
On the other hand, I am adroit at metering my verse without the reader being able to read it to The Yellow Rose of Texas. Perhaps, I should not have submitted a sample with more than 15 words outside the 2,000 Americans use everyday.
What I do love about this program is it weighs the topic by checking the words one uses against each another to attempt to determine the subject. Since words from mathematics and science permeate most everything I write, I have had the pleasure of reports
who would have wanted to smack me for my use of most of the words in my everyday vocabulary. While he and I are cellularly aligned on many misuses of words to portray the writer as an intellectual, he may well have accused me of obfuscating my points with scholarly jargon unsuitable for the average seventh grade reader. All I can say is Good!
In a world where everyone wants to ride the coattails of some past great, I am content to know I am not pigeonholed to one genre, style or talent pool.
Because I find this tool a barrel of giggles, I love some of the other results I have gotten:
- Dan Brown
- Chuck Palahniuk
- Margaret Mitchell
- Neil Gaiman
- Stephen King (Don’t laugh… again.)
- Raymond Chandler
- Mark Twain
- Stephenie Meyer (Some days, I think it is broken.)
- Anne Rice
- H.P. Lovecraft
- Arthur Conan Doyle
Considering how little these authors have in common, I find the entire exercise fascinating. I find it interesting different portions of the same manuscript get such wildly different results. The first three come from Mantra’s Book of Shadows; the next four from Flash in the Pan; the next two from Darkness Introduced and my new manuscript (due out in late April) Charitable Darkness; the last two from my newest poetry collection, almost none of which appears out of print.
What is poignant about this list is the microbial number of pieces I have read from any of these authors. I have read precisely three Stephen King novels; I hated them. I have read three of Mark Twain’s books, under duress… they were assignments for school. I cared nothing for Sherlock Holmes, but loved The Hound of the Baskervilles. With my contemporaries, I read most of the Lestat series, but preferred Taltos and Tale of the Body Thief. I have not read the first page of her erotica. All of the 20th and 21st century writers… I had to look up. How many of you would be shocked to know I have never read a graphic novel?
Thus, there is no connection between my writing and my reading preferences. In fact, I write in an eclectic fashion indicative of my diverse subject matter and in contrast to the authors I prefer most to read.
The roots of my writing stretch far into history. In our continued exploration into better writing, we will look at the influences on our writing and how we make them our own.
Take a moment to input three samples into I Write Like… Do you think it is accurate? What was the biggest surprise? Did you get different results? Do you want to be known for writing like that author? Is it an author you read?
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