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Saturday, March 10, 2018


Posted by #Author R. Ann Siracusa


Most writers aspire to write like some of their favorite authors. Of course, we all have our own "voice" and should encourage and nurture that instead of trying to write like someone else. But haven't you ever wondered what author you write like? Is that the author you'd wish to emulate?
There’s a website which asks this questions and allows the reader to enter an excerpt for analysis. What fun!

I tried out the “I Write Like” blog analysis but, sadly, I’m not sure it’s very accurate. The results aren't consistent, or at least mine weren't, and I have to wonder the exercise really tells an author anything about his writing.
If you try this out, look at FaceBook and Tweeter for the comments and reactions of other authors. There are quite a variety of reactions.
I WRITE LIKE…I really went gungho when I tried this exercise and, eventually, entered more than a dozen excerpts from my own works. Here’s who I write like, depending on the scene.

Harry HarrisonUsing the first three paragraphs of my most recent romantic suspense release, Destruction of the Great Wall, I wrote like Harry Harrison. That’s cool. I like science fiction and I enjoy Harrison’s books.

Dan BrownThe analysis of the first four paragraphs of Chapter Twenty-Four of the same book, Destruction of the Great Wall, indicates I write like Dan Brown. I wish I made the kind of money he does.

David Foster Wallace
Analysis of my travel blogs, the opening scene of my romantic suspense novel, All For A Dead Man’ Leg, and the prologue of a contemporary romance short story indicates I write like David Forster Wallace, whom I have never read (at least, that I remember). Wh-aat? I believed these three works were written in very different styles.

Mario Puzo
The several scenes from my Mafia thriller, Family Secrets: A Vengeance Of Tears, were analyzed to emulate Mario Puzo. Awesome! That's exactly the tone I wanted for this book.

● Stephen King

Analysis of a major sex scene from the same novel, Family Secrets, came out like something written by Stephen King. The sex scene? Now, that is totally scary.

Chuck PalahniukAnalysis of this very blog came out Chuck Palahniuk.
I did say I went bonzo using this website. I also tested paragraphs of my work that came out writing like James Joyce, Vladimir Nabokov, and Stephanie Meyer. I am soo all over the place. I wish I could sell as many books as any of these authors.
Other writers I know tell me they also entered multiple excerpts of their works and nearly every one of them came out writing as one or two authors. But they were consistent.
I noticed other authors indicating in comments that they tried this for other authors as well. Because I would like to emulate three of my favorite authors, I went to the trouble of typing a few excerpts from each one. They don’t write like themselves, either.
● Katie MacAlister writes like Vladimir Nabokov based on an excerpt from “Men In Kilts
● Janet Evanovich writes like Raymond Chandler based on an excerpt from “Hot Six”
● Dick Francis writes like Ian Fleming based on an excerpt from “Banker”

THE ANALYSIS PROGRAMThe analysis program, I’m told, looks at word usage statistics, sentence length variability, punctuation, and so on, but, obviously, not emotional content and the subjective aspects of your writing. Also, the program compares the sample to only selected authors (although I don't know how many) so many contemporary authors are not included, although Stephen King, Stephanie Meyer, and Dan Brown are among the authors.

There are three lessons I learned from this exercise.
First, there is a great deal of variation in the way I write.The way I use words, the length of my sentences, punctuation, etc. I need to look at this and determine if this is an asset or a disadvantage to my writing. Perhaps the variety helps the pacing, or that different kinds of scenes can/should have different styles. It gives me something to consider. Perhaps consistency is the goal I should strive for. I’ll have to think about it and maybe talk to my editor about it.
Second, there are some authors out there I haven’t read and should.I need to take a look at works by Vladimir Nabokov, David Foster Wallace, Harry Harrison, and Stephanie Meyer. And if I’d like to emulate certain authors, maybe I should study Ian Fleming (whose work I have read) and Raymond Chandler.
Third, you can always find something to do to waste time instead of putting your butt in the chair and writing your own novel.
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The Last Weekend in October  All For A Dead Man's Leg  All For A Fistful of AshesDestruction Of The Great Wall.

1 comment:

jean hart stewart said...

Ann, just write like yourself. Forget all this other stuff. You're a great writer....just write!!!!!

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