I Write Like

Who do you write like?

So you're sitting slumped in front of your laptop, surrounded by coffee stained printouts and classic novels written by preternaturally talented scribes who knew exactly what they were doing and definitely weren't jokers. You're in a low mood. You just need some sort of validation. Are you on the right track? Rafa Nadal gets a cheer when he hits a crosscourt forehand out of reach of his opponent. What do you get if you pen a winning sentence? Silence, doubt, self-loathing … it's all too much. Which is where I Write Like comes in.


It was a slow morning in early July. The dishwasher whirr was undermining the peace, the clouds were gathering with forbidding intent, and, at a loss for anything else to do, we copied and pasted the above paragraph into the I Write Like website. This latest online craze analyses your prose style and matches it to a famous author, which, as you will understand, provides an absurd amount of enjoyment.

We discovered, to our surprise, that our reviewer resembles, in tone, mood and syntactical arrangement, none other than that great maestro of the nefarious, Stephen King. Sadly, our reviewer was a little troubled by this, thinking that while Mr King might be a bestselling novelist, he is not lauded as a great stylist. Unperturbed, we put this very paragraph into the analytical machine, in hope that our reviewer would find his work compared very favourably to the titans of English literature.


"What?" said our reviewer when we showed him the results. "But I don't even like horror fiction." "You can't argue with the machine," we said, "as we have come to learn, machines are infallible. They would appear to have your number. We suggest you add some ghosts to your novel, at the very least a bloody murder or two."


In a furious rush, our reviewer, chastened to discover his terrible essence, copied and pasted the work of several famous writers into the machine, in the hope of proving I Write Like wrong. It emerged that Shakespeare writes like Shakespeare, Margaret Atwood like David Foster Wallace, Frank Kafka like James Fenimore Cooper and our reviewer, this time, like Vladimir Nabokov. And with that he was satisfied and could take his rest.

21 July 2010