I Write like Dan Brown

Christopher Tayler

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'Check what famous writer you write like with this statistical analysis tool, which analyses your word choice and writing style and compares them to those of the famous writers.’ This is the – somewhat questionable, writing-wise – promise of I write like…, a handy website that invites casual browsers to paste in ‘your latest blog post, journal entry, Reddit comment, chapter of your unfinished book, etc’, and then uses its robot brain to break down the material. I went for blog posts, and can reveal that my first one on this site was written in the style of Nabokov; there followed an unsettling baroque phase – four posts – in which I wrote like H.P. Lovecraft, but since then I appear to have reined myself in, writing like Chuck Palahniuk and, most recently, Dan Brown. (The preceding sentences, however, are Nabokovian.) Further analysis from Metafilter’s qxntpqbbbqxl reveals that Nabokov writes like Dickens, Emily Dickinson like Lovecraft, Lovecraft like H.G. Wells, Dan Brown and himself; the King James Bible is like Shakespeare, who writes like James Fenimore Cooper. Kurt Vonnegut, Edgar Allan Poe and Isaac Asimov write like themselves.


  • 15 July 2010 at 10:11am
    Imperialist says:
    I’m David Foster Wallace, consistently. Which accurately discerns a dependence on parenthesis, a compulsion to include every implication and dialectical contingency, an addiction to an irony I don’t trust and a paradoxical awareness of the urgency and pointlessness of everything I say. Beyond that, the description is mere flattery. (Although the preceding lines are apparently like Vonnegut [which somehow seems to reinforce its the Foster Wallacianess .]) (However, an authentically DFWallacian text would be transformed into the David Foster Wallace-like prose it was always going to be by the preceding parenthetical appendix, whereas it apparently retained its Vonnegut characteristics.) (The difference between me and DFW is that he wouldn’t stop there. Or here. There also would follow a query about whether or not the application only looked at the opening sentences and whether or not that was sufficient justification to stop [or even a metaphysical incentive to keep going].) (Although once DFW became ‘David Foster Wallace’ he would keep going until he was ‘Kurt Vonnegut’ which would as yet be unnecessary because this remains in the style of Kurt Vonnegut, or at least the ‘Kurt Vonnegut’ of this application who has attained an identity separate from the World Famous Author Kurt Vonnegut (complicated by the fact that in this case ‘Kurt Vonnegut’ and Kurt Vonnegut actually write identically).)

    • 18 July 2010 at 8:53am
      Geoff Roberts says: @ Imperialist
      Where are the feetnotes? Can't let you through without at least ten.

    • 18 July 2010 at 6:44pm
      cigar says: @ Imperialist
      I had the above analyzed on the web page, and it returned "Kurt Vonnegut".

  • 15 July 2010 at 11:26am
    loxhore says:
    I got Nabokov. Yes!

  • 15 July 2010 at 12:02pm
    Jim says:
    hmm... apparently a lengthy extract from my dissertation on Heidegger, Althusser and the falsity of diachronic interpellation was written in the style of Enid Blyton.

  • 15 July 2010 at 12:12pm
    Imperialist says:
    Anthony Lane's review of the Da Vinci Code was evidently written in the style of Dan Brown.


  • 15 July 2010 at 12:48pm
    Martin says:
    Well, I pasted in extracts from an article by two authors on environmental law and religion, which the 'statistical analysis tool' informed me were written like Lovecraft, Le Guin, Lovecraft, Le Guin, Lovecraft ... Just when I was becoming comfortable with the idea, however, that the article clearly was the work of two authors who had simply taken turns to churn out a few paragaphs, up popped Margaret Atwood and then Chuck Palahniuk! So, a bit of plagiarism too. My own writing? Indistinguishable from JK Rowling's. Sob!

  • 15 July 2010 at 3:02pm
    Phil Edwards says:
    We all write like Dan Brown (although I also write like Margaret Atwood, Douglas Adams, Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft and William Shakespeare, no less). My personal theory is that it's a kind of Zen art project whose punchline is the url:

    I Write Like... Me, dammit! Me! I write like me!

  • 16 July 2010 at 11:10am
    coolraoul says:
    I write like Dan Brown is the new "I am Spartacus".

    My order confirmation from "writes like James Joyce".

  • 16 July 2010 at 11:31am
    coolraoul says:
    Louis Menand in his takedown of Eat Shit and Leak also "writes like James Joyce".

    2 Live Crew on the other hand, in "Pop that Pussy" ("Good, damn, shit, Look at the ass on that bitch, Look at the titties") also "writes like Dan Brown". It's hard to imagine what the rest of their discography writes like.

    I'm guessing:

    "The Fuck Shop" -- Thomas Mann

    "Check It Out, Y'all" (Freestyle) -- Chretien de Troyes

    "Sex...Sex", "Hell, Yeah" and "Chesterfield Island" – David Hume

  • 16 July 2010 at 2:49pm
    semitone says:
    "This is the – somewhat questionable, writing-wise – promise" ... I just hope that "writing-wise" is ironic, because that kind of dreck gives me the shivers. What's next, Chris: "who should I write like in the future, going forward"?

    • 16 July 2010 at 4:33pm
      coolraoul says: @ semitone
      I'll handle this one, Chris.

      Semitone, you should totally write like 2 Live Crew. Imagine the critical reception.

    • 19 July 2010 at 2:11pm
      semitone says: @ coolraoul
      Cool, Raoul, except thanks to you I just googled 2 Live Crew (how tragic is that?) and I want those five minutes back.

    • 19 July 2010 at 2:41pm
      coolraoul says: @ semitone
      No refunds.

    • 19 July 2010 at 2:58pm
      Imperialist says: @ coolraoul
      Attempted to settle old beef by comparing the Takeover (Stephen King) with Ether (Cory Doctorow). I guess Jay-Z wins, but only because I don't know who Cory Doctorow is. (Unless that's another name for Edgar Lawrence, which would be 100 points to Nas.)

  • 17 July 2010 at 3:45am
    outofdate says:
    Just because there are a few early glitches in the program, which I am grateful to the author for pointing out, albeit in a humorous vein, haha, hoho, laughter is the best medicine, the underlying algorithm is FUNDAMENTALLY SOUND, as will become clear in a few months when these teething troubles have, to use an Orwellian metaphor, been ironed out, or my reading list has expanded beyond the syllabus for English as a minor subject at my second-tier American university, whichever is the sooner, nor is there any reason at all to give up on socialism just because no functioning application has ever been observed or because, as some naysayers insist on claiming, doing the same thing over and over again, each time expecting a different resuklt, is a definition...

    Where was I? Yes, in a few months' time I'll be rich and you'll be laughing on the other side of your face.

  • 17 July 2010 at 3:25pm
    RBBernstein says:
    I tried it repeatedly with paragraphs from the same essay, and the program told me that sometimes I write like Kurt Vonnegut, and sometimes like H. P. Lovecraft, and sometimes like David Foster Wallace, and on and on. Only sometimes did I get a repeat characterization, and that was either Vonnegut or Lovecraft. As I write American constitutional and intellectual history focusing on the founding period, I don't know how my writing has anything in common with either Vonnegut or Lovecraft. Maybe David Foster Wallace; after all, we did attend Amherst College, only several years apart. I'm going to try this thing again, and we'll see whose writing mine resembles this time.

    • 18 July 2010 at 8:56am
      Geoff Roberts says: @ RBBernstein
      Wait till Wallave reembles RBBernstein.

    • 18 July 2010 at 8:57am
      Geoff Roberts says: @ Geoff Roberts
      My smell checher is down.

  • 19 July 2010 at 2:43pm
    coolraoul says:
    David Foster Wallace writes like Kierkegaard in a Spiderman suit.

    • 19 July 2010 at 4:09pm
      Geoff Roberts says: @ coolraoul
      And Kerkegaard writes like Philip Roth on vacation.

    • 20 July 2010 at 2:33pm
      outofdate says: @ coolraoul
      Dafuer ist er nun tot.

  • 20 July 2011 at 7:41pm
    Harry Stopes says:
    I started my MA dissertation writing like H.P. Lovecraft but concluded in the manner of Wilde.

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