Who Do You Write Like?

I ran across a tweet today where a tweep shared a link to a site that analyzes your writing style and compares it to the works of famous authors. She said, “I know they’re crazy because they say I write like Charles Dickens.”

I don’t know her writing style, so I can’t say how far off the analysis might be in her case.  But, naturally, my curiosity was piqued, so I went to the site and submitted a sample of my current work in progress (Book #4 in the Gateway to Gannah series).

Here’s the sample I submitted:

 Lileela would have killed for one minute of comfort. Just one minute.

But there was no one within reach to kill.

The pain in her legs was bad enough to darken her vision—or was it the result of the dim light in here? No, it must be more than that, because even the outlines she could see were fuzzy and vague.

In addition to the pain in her legs, now the arm she lay on bothered her. Numbness crept down to her fingers, and it felt like something dug into her shoulder. But she couldn’t lift herself up to relieve the pressure because of the low rock ceiling.

She contemplated what might happen if she worked her arm around so she could push up suddenly onto her elbow. If she did it fast enough, she might knock herself out.

It probably wouldn’t work, though. It would only make her head hurt on top of everything else.

At the end of the narrow opening in which she lay, the unseen Kughurrrro shifted his weight and groaned.

She supposed she’d been doing her share of groaning herself. “You okay out there?”

“Couldn’t be better. My knee is twice its normal size and desperately needs to be iced. It throbs like a pulsating dindunskghiskallala in its first season of growth. My shirt is soaked through with a good half litre of blood streaming from my ear, which, if it isn’t stitched back on soon, will likely dry up and fall off for lack of nourishment. But I don’t suppose that matters, as I’m quite certain the rest of me will die in this hole too, eventually. The sum total adds up to a strikingly fabulous day.”

Lileela’s ears tipped back in annoyance then rose with amusement. By the time his speech ended, she was chuckling silently. The Karkar language was an exquisite one for howling a lament, and he’d chosen his words to contain a minimum of six vibrant syllables each. The impassioned recitation reverberated through the mine like an epic poem.

“I’m glad, Kughurrrro. I was afraid you might be upset by this turn of events.” She devised the vocabulary to patter against the stone walls like pebbles.

A guffaw bubbled up from his chest and exploded with a thundering blast. “It’s a rare pleasure,” he said between brays of hilarity, “to exchange verbal poetry with an artisan of the rich and colorful Karkar language.”

 

After pasting that snippet into the box, I clicked “Submit.” They analyzed it and concluded that I write like… H. P. Lovecraft.

Really??

Well, okay. I’ll admit the sample I provided does include things like pain, blood and death. Perhaps I should have used a different snippet. I chose that one because it’s what I’ve been working on most recently.

Friend and author Gina Holmes was brave enough to go on record saying that my writing reminds her of Madeline L’Engel. I like that comparison a lot better!

H. P. Lovecraft? I’ve never read anything he wrote, so his style obviously was no influence on me.  Though he’s a big name in speculative fiction and I see his work mentioned frequently, I’ve never read any of it because it doesn’t interest me. There are so many books in the world begging to be read, I don’t want to waste my time on something I won’t enjoy.

According to Wikipedia, Lovecraft was responsible for Stephen King’s fascination with horror and the macabre and was the single largest figure to influence his fiction writing. But I don’t read, let alone write, things in that realm.

Notwithstanding the interesting results, it was a fun exercise. Give it a try; see who the site says your writing resembles.

Just be careful about choosing the sample you provide!

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Play it Again, Tracy

High School teacher Tracy Krauss is also an author, artist, playwright and director. She and her husband reside in Tumbler Ridge, BC where she continues to pursue all of her creative interests. Her first two books, And the Beat Goes On and My Mother the Man-Eater, were both nominated for the ‘Indie Excellence Book Awards’ for religious fiction in 2011. Tracy also has one stage play in print.

Today, on the eve of the launch of her third novel, Play It Again, the much-anticipated prequel to her first book, she shares her wise words with YsWords.

Q. I see from your website that this is not your first novel. How long have you been writing?

A. I’ve been writing for more than 25 years, but I didn’t break into the published market until 2009. I guess it goes to show that patience and tenacity pay off in the end. To clarify a bit, I didn’t start submitting anything until about 2005 or so. Before that I was a ‘closet’ writer – happy to bang away at my computer completely lost in my own head.

Q. You describe your fiction as “edgy.” What do you mean by that?

A. I’m not sure who first coined the term ‘edgy’, but in my mind it means fiction that is willing to stray from what has been typically acceptable in the Christian marketplace. This could be anything from language to sexual content to violence. In my case, I feel as if my writing is fairly tame – perhaps a PG13 rating.  I do not write graphic or gratuitous scenes and although my characters do sometimes use what I would consider mild profanity, I don’t use the Lord’s name or the ‘F bomb’. Essentially, I try to write in an authentic and realistic way. My characters are not perfect – even if they are Christians – and this is the way I try to portray them – in a believable and realistic fashion. I’ve long been a fan of Christian writers who are willing to take risks in this regard. Francine Rivers, Frank Peretti, and Ted Dekker come to mind. ‘Edgy’ isn’t really new, but I think it is gaining acceptance as a viable way to get the gospel across to another segment of the population.

Q. Play It Again is a sequel to a previous release (and a sequel could hardly have a better title!).  Or I guess it’s a prequel. In either case, why did you choose to continue this line? Were you in love with the characters? Did your readers ask for it? Was it indigestion?

A. Your question made me smile. I actually wrote PLAY IT AGAIN first, before its sequel AND THE BEAT GOES ON. However, my publisher wanted to publish the second one first, so the decision was basically out of my hands. Maybe it’s a strange marketing ploy … In any case, I do love the characters in both books, but then again I usually love all my characters. (Even the nasty ones.)

Q. You describe your work as “inspirational” rather than Christian. Do you feel uncomfortable with the designation “Christian fiction,” or do your stories truly not fit that mold?

A. Labeling is such a tricky issue. My work is unabashedly written from a Christian worldview and all three of my published novels are redemptive in nature. However, perhaps because of some of the so called ‘edginess’, my work doesn’t fit neatly into the normal CBA marketplace. The ‘Christian’ label can be a bit of a misnomer for those expecting a squeaky clean bonnet style romance, and similarly, non-Christians tend to avoid anything that they think will be preachy.

Q. What do you hope readers will take away from this story? That is, since it’s inspirational, how do you hope to inspire them?

A. The crux of this story is that God doesn’t expect people to have it all together before they come to Him. He loves the world’s ‘screw ups’, so to speak, just as much as the righteous and religious. He accepts anybody.

Q. Who’s your favorite character in this book, and why? Is it acceptable for authors to pick favorites, or does that pit your characters against one another and cause friction within the family?

A. My favorite is probably Jack Burton, the female protag’s aging father who is also a crusty and well seasoned jazz musician. He actually does not even come to Christ in this book, but he is still a loveable and somewhat comic character. (We find out he gets saved in book two, though, so it’s okay …J )

Q. What does your story’s protagonist most fear? Does this reflect your own fears?

A. The male protag fears failure. He’s a control freak with tons of baggage. The female protag fears rejection, since she’s been hurt before. Naturally, they both have to come face to face with their fears. I’m probably more afraid of rejection than failure, but I’m pretty laid back, though.

Q. How has your protagonist grown by the story’s end? Or would that be a spoiler? If you don’t want to tell us, make up another question. Go ahead, ask yourself anything, we can take it.

A.Let’s just say they both learn to let go as they surrender to God’s plan for their lives.

Q. What are your thoughts on the subject of self-publishing vs. the traditional route? Try to limit your answer to 50,000 words.

A. I think there is room for everyone. Things are changing so fast in the publishing industry that I think anyone would be foolish to take hard and fast sides. There is some quality writing out there that probably never would have made it past an agent’s desk.  Lots of agents and publishing houses are even beginning to recognize this and ‘self publishing’ doesn’t have quite the same stigma it once did. (Although I would say it still has a stigma to some degree in certain circles …) However, the thing that is most problematic about self-publishing, from a reader’s perspective anyway, is that there is also a lot of really poorly written stuff out there, too, and it’s hard to weed through it.  That’s one thing that the ‘old’ system had going for it. At least there was some form of quality control.

Q. What have you found to be the most effective way to spend your marketing/publicity hour /dollar? Have you tried anything that seemed to be a waste?

A. Oh dear. I’m still working through all the options, that’s for sure. I would say anything that sounds too good probably is.  (Especially if it costs money. J) While I spend a lot of time on the internet blogging and going to various social media sites, good old direct sales still seem to be an effective way to sell books. I’m talking about book signings, library visits, readings, going directly to book stores etc.

Q. If someone you’d just met said, “You’re a writer? That’s so cool! I’ve always wanted to write a book. Is it hard?” what would you tell her?

A. Believe it or not, I have had more than one person say this to me. I usually just smile and say something simple like, “Oh, it’s a lot to work,” and then move on. People like that really have no clue as to what’s involved. Those that are really serious about writing already know how much work it is because they are probably writing already. Most writer’s that I know are compelled to write, they don’t just decide to do it one day. Writing is something that is inside of you. A passion. A drive. It’s something that you can’t NOT do. At least that is my experience. If this is the case then I’m usually happy to engage in a real conversation about it.

Q. What question were you hoping I’d ask but I didn’t? If I’d asked it, what would be the answer?

A. You covered it all. This was a fun interview and you asked some different questions from the standard fare, which was refreshing. Thanks. 

And thank you, Tracy. Best wishes on your book launch!

For more information about Tracy and her books, check out her blog, Expression Express, where you can find book excerpts, original art, and more.

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Beauty

Beauty is subjective, certainly. But no matter how we define it, there’s a lot of junk out there that’s un-lovely by any account. That’s why, as both a writer and a reader, I strive for something a little above the mundane.

And that’s why, when I ran across this blog post today, I wanted to share it with you. It’s thought-provoking.

When my daily path intersects true beauty, how often am I too hurried or distracted to notice?

I used to be a big Sherlock Holmes fan. Haven’t read any of the stories for quite a few years, but I recall a statement in one of the tales that the Holmes character made to Watson. Pointing out that the function of a flower is merely reproduction, he observed that the beauty is a benefit God gave us people, not a necessity for the plant itself.

Beauty isn’t vital to physical life. Nevertheless, God was not only gracious enough to fill the world with it, but He’s given us the ability to create it on our own small scale, like children imitating what they see Daddy do.

Let’s take the time to enjoy the gifts He’s given us and thank Him for the privilege.

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