Do you know who you write like?

Writing is an art of its own. It cannot be compared to anything else, for it is a backbone for how society functions. Like every other type of art though, there are good writers and there are bad writers, and it is all completely subjective. Even so, you can now find out how similar your writing style is to famous authors.

I Write Like is a website providing this service for free, and allows you to input text you have written. It will then analyse the text and its style to give you an idea of who you most write like. It may not be entirely accurate but it should prove to be a fun experiment. For those who write in their spare time, it might be especially interesting to see how you stack up to literary giants. Assuming you had the time to do it daily, you could find out just how your writing style changes from day to day. Most people are at least fairly consistent in their style but there is always the chance you're "in the zone", and are pumping out gold worthy of James Joyce.

I decided to take it for a spin with some extracts from articles from other Neowin writers as well as myself, to find out just how the team's writing process works. In every case I used the first two or three paragraphs from articles. I sampled my Scrivener and SeriesGuide reviews. They were compared to H.P. Lovecraft, which doesn't really seem to be an insult in my eyes. My first ever editorial, targeting Samsung and Apple's antagonism towards each other, was compared to Douglas Adams, of The Hitcherhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fame. My Das Keyboard review is compared to Cory Doctorow, and my "Twenty Minutes in Berlin, 1945" is apparently similar to Mario Puzo.

I didn't stop at just testing my own articles though. I decided to take Tim Schiesser's Galaxy Nexus review to the test as well, just to see how it stacked up - and because it happens to be a review of my favorite Android device. The site drew a comparison to David Foster Wallace, whose magnum opus is typically seen as the 1996 novel Infinite Jest. Jake Durasamy's fantastic editorial on creating the Pokemon: Liquid Crystal ROM was also compared to H.P. Lovecraft, though it would seem the site is much more expansive than this.

For sheer amusement I used the shortest possible fragment of Animal Farm, by George Orwell. That fragment was "Mr Jones, owner of the Manor Farm" - and the site identified the author from that one half-formed sentence. It doesn't always work that well, though: when I entered a fragment of other novels it invoked a message informing me that the sentence was too short. Undeterred I decided to zip over to Gutenberg to try something completely random: an extract from a famous letter sent by Vladimir Lenin. The letter, entitled "A Letter to American Working Men", was written in 1918. The site drew a comparison to George Orwell, who was known more for being critical of Communism and the Soviet Union. Take that how you will.

In short, I Write Like is an interesting foray into the world of sites. It does not seem particularly well known though, which is a shame, since I had known about it for the past eight months or so. It is available as a Chrome web app (i.e. a glorified shortcut of sorts in your home page). Of course, it isn't just there for being the sake of being there. The site was created by Coding Robots, who are using it to provide a small advertisement for Mémoires, a piece of journal software for Macintosh OS X. If I actually had a Mac I'd take it for a test drive, but Mac owners among the community might find it an interesting and appealing piece of software to add to their docks.

Give it a go and see just how you write. You could start with your last forum post, or even your blog.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Firefox adds click-to-play to prevent security hazards

Next Story

The Pirate Bay: Big jump in traffic following UK ISP ban

65 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I write like a drunk spider which has fallen in to an ink well, but I don't need a website to tell me that

WTF
Dan Brown!?
Never been so insulted in life!
Perhaps I should have pasted in a little more than a five-line email. Will have to dig up an old essay or something. Dan Brown, indeed.

I wrote 3 short paragraphs summing up my life, it replied that I write like Edgar Allan Poe. I've never really read any of his work (not since I was in grade school anyway), so who knows. Although ironically I did just see the movie 'The Raven' a few days ago, thought it was pretty good.

Here's a test:

Four separate passages from Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Four different authors.

Daniel Dafoe
Robert Louis Stevenson
William Shakespeare
Edgar Allan Poe

So, it appears as though the algorithm works primarily based on vocabulary, since all of these great authors were influences on Melville. Yet the algorithm isn't sophisticated enough to find the actual author of an actual work based on their writing style.

Why are you taking technical writing samples to this website? Clearly the authors it has in its database write primarily fiction. That means the only thing the site will be able to evaluate is subject and word choice rather than grammar and style. That's assuming the site has that level of complexity, of course.

By the way, many accomplished authors can write in COMPLETELY different styles depending on what their target audience is and what the ultimate goal of their work is.

Ten times as many words written as are needed to convey the plot? Yup, that's Stephen King alright! 8P

In all fairness, ever since they started paying him by the word, he learned he could make a LOT more money if he took each of his short story ideas and padded them out to 800 pages each, instead of publishing single book collected works.

Neither has she. 8P

Popular though her books may be (thanks to Scholastic Press), her skill as a writer is quite questionable.

I write like Stephen King. Some of my articles are really good but some of them stink and they all contain similar traits.

Apparently I write like Chuck Palahniuk. Had to google him to find out who he was. Sounds like an interesting bloke.

simplezz said,
I apparently write like Arthur Conan Doyle, though I've never read one of his books.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, dear fellow Though I've never read any of this books - frankly I'd much rather watch Sherlock Holmes than read about it

David Foster Wallace hmmm... Never heard of that guy.
I think my sample was too short and I might have written in a more serious style than usual.

GS:mac

I tried a bunch of my old papers/blag posts and noticed that the result is highly dependant on the subject matter of the sample. My more "core" academic papers (even in different but related degrees) tend toward one author, the more philosophical academic papers tend toward another, and my technology writing (academic or otherwise, like blog posts) tend toward Cory Doctrow. It may well be that I have a tendency to write differently depending on the subject, but I find the Cory Doctrow relation to be quite curious. What kind of sample did you guys use when you got Doctrow?

rfirth said,
"The parallel plot currently only supports linear scaling."
Apparently I write like Dan Brown...

Apparently the same here, yet it's nothing like his writing.. Don't think a service that's that inaccurate should be marketed

Neobond said,
Same

I got that as well! Clearly, this site is a load of rubbish. It's Cory Doctorow that writes like me.

Kushan said,

I got that as well! Clearly, this site is a load of rubbish. It's Cory Doctorow that writes like me.

Yeah, my articles are apparently like Cory Doctorow's writing. My fiction, on the other hand, is James Joyce material.

Scar said,
Apparently...

I write like
Cory Doctorow

Apparently this is a rather common comparison that says more about the terminology scoring than the style and also suggests the 'pool' of comparative authors and their work seems to be rather limited.

It would be more credible if it gave what 'works' scored closely or even the time-frame of the author's work that you write like, because all writers do evolve and early Lovecraft and early King is not like their later work in this type of limited scoring variation.


Additionally, the selling of Mac software to become a better writer on the site is a bit disturbing. The first tip might be to inspire people to be creative an think for themselves, which is not the Apple way.

Edited Note:
How cool, this posting changed my style to H.P. Lovecraft. Maybe mentioning Mac software or Apple changed my style to 'horror'. LOL