You Write, Girl!

After a night of strange dreams, I love waking up to finding first snow on the ground.  Yeah, it’s not much–a lot of the ground is poking through–but hearing, “Oh, it’s snowing!” and “There’s snow!” for part of the morning always leaving me remembering to stay the hell of the roads, ’cause I’ve lived through 53 winters–with 54 coming up–and every one of those winters see folks completely losing their shit upon first snow fall, no matter how light, and driving like a bunch of schizophrenics suddenly off their meds.

I should have realized the morning would be whacked since, right before slipping off to dreamland, someone started a “discussion” on the NaNoWriMo Facebook group.  Said “discussion” involved the name of Stephenie Meyer, which means 50 comments later it’s turned into a “She’s a hack!/She shouldn’t be allowed to write!/Edward is a stalker!” hate rant.  Oh, and I forgot my favorite:  “She didn’t do her research on vampires!”  Yeah . . . well, I won’t say much more here other than I’ve done my research on vampires, and if you think Edward is like the most totally stalkerific character evar, you need to do your research.

Of course, I think budding writers should concentrate on other things–like improving their own work, and figuring out how to get published.  But that’s just me, and I’m freakin’ strange.  Besides, when I want to know about certain vampire flicks, I know where to go.

There was something else I was doing as well: playing with the gender slant of my NaNo Novel, and seeing who else I write like.

When I was writing my story Kuntilanak I became curious about the gender identity of the work.  I’d read a few things about how men and women “write differently” and, by examining the words used, you can tell the gender of the author.

Whenever I come across stuff like that, I become intrigued.  I use a lot of female characters, and I’ve always been curious if I’m actually coming across as a woman, or am I just a guy writing about women.  Call me nutty, but I do worry about things like that when it comes to improving my craft, rather than worrying about if vampires can walk around in the daytime.  Again, just me.

This is where The Gender Genie comes in.

The site uses the algorithm that is suppose to show the gender of the person writing and applies it to whatever work is pasted into the text area on the main page.  Put in words, hit the genre radio button, press Submit . . . and there you go.  You’ll find out if you’re really a girl or a boy writer.

I don’t actually look at it that way.  I look at it as, “In this section the majority of the characters are women, so when they speak, are they coming across as women?”  Oh, sure: I could find myself getting into trouble by trying to tailor my writing to be too “womanly”, or something like that, but I don’t do that.  I just write.  I get into the heads of my characters and have things come out.

There is a strange thing about my writing, however: most of the time my writing does indicate I’m female.

Last night I put Part One of my NaNa Novel through The Gender Genie and watched the analysis.  I wasn’t the least bit surprised by what I saw: six of seven chapters came out saying they were written by a woman, and in only two of those chapters where there any male characters.

And the one chapter that came back and told me, “The author is male” consists of a long of passages where the main female character is involved in a long argument with her male second-in-command, and her dialog–which I collected to cut and paste into the GG–is what’s coming back to me as predominately male.  Makes me wonder if what I’m doing is writing her character as adopting a male facade in order to put her male subordinate in his place . . . it ‘s an interesting point-of-view when it comes to building characterization.

And now that I know my gender, I wanna see what my voice is like–or, better yet, what existing voice I’m like.

That’s where I Write Like comes into play.  It’s really simple: you paste your passages, hit the “Analyze” button, and you’ll get the “I Write Like . . .” comment.  How realistic is this?  I have no idea, but it’s fun to see what literary giants (or not) you’re unconsciously channeling or flat-out ripping off.

Once again, I did all of Part One of my NaNa Novel, and the results are pretty constant.  Five of my chapters come back with the same author attached; the other two . . . Chapter 4 says I write like William Gibson, and Chapter 6–my only “male” chapter–says I write like Dan Brown, which therefore means I need to rewrite that sucker extensively.

As far as the other chapters are concerned?  I write like J. D. Salinger.  In fact a lot of my work comes across as being Salinger-like, which makes me feel sorta good.  Then again, does this mean at some point in the future some nutty kid is gonna get fixated on one of my characters, think they are that character, and go off to shoot a famous musician?  If so, it’s not my fault!  I’m not responsible for the insanity of people who aren’t yet born!

Just for the hell of it I took all the text above this line and ran it through the Gender Genie and I Write Like just to see what I’d get.

The Gender Genie says “The author of this passage is Male!”  Okay, no surprise there.

I Write Like says, “I write like Stephenie Meyer”.

Wait a minute–this post started out with Stephenie Meyer.

And now I’m writing like her.

Whoa . . ..

Suddenly I feel all sparkly.