When my writer friend, Ann Everett, posted her blog about a site where a sample of your writing can be analyzed and matched with famous authors, I was intrigued. Visit it yourself for your example – http://iwl.me/. It’s fun to find out which great author your writing resembles.
My first thought was it couldn’t be valid, just something for fun. I mentioned this in a comment before another reader posted a check by entering a classic children’s story and got H.G. Lovecraft as a match.
To find my resemblance to real talent I checked the prologues (where available) and the text of the first chapter. I matched many writers, depending on the style of the story.
When I immediately clicked on the site I first entered a portion of the novel I am working on at the moment, One Unicorn Wish. When it was matched with the writings of Neil Gaiman I was really shocked, and excited. I am a big fan, but no one writes like Neil Gaiman, do they? Isn’t he a genre unto himself? Well, I admit I thought this particular story might be similar, and was reading it internally with his voice, but I never would have suspected a match. I’m definitely going to finish the novel this year. I’m excited about it anyway, but now…
As for a style of writing Neil is an enigma. All his publications are different, but so are mine or anyone’s, perhaps. Gaiman apparently writes best when he writes short stories, putting them together as a novel. In The Graveyard Book he wrote what is being called a Shnovel. He admitted at his Newbery acceptance that’s how it was put together.
Okay, I did the short story thing with the three separate stories in TREE & SKY: An Introduction to the Secrets of Meshyah’s World, and will follow with two more stories. I’m presently doing it with The Citadel series, beginning with Little Duke and the Rat Princess, but I can’t figure out how the first few pages of One Unicorn Wish could type me with this part of Neil’s style. Besides, with a trilogy where each book borders the 500 page range, all telling the continuing story, short stories are not how all my works are accomplished.
I do agree we both are Sci-Fi/Fantasy authors whose writings are difficult to put into any sub-category of that genre. And while some say Neil aims to become part of the circle of great literature, I know I would like that for myself.
My best example is the trilogy again. An apocalyptic vision of our future, its just different from most. It’s basically a search for the place where the horses have gone in order to be there and safe before the end comes. It predicts a catastrophe through the character’s evaluation of evidence and clues. It focuses on science, ancient pre-history and/or mythology while the fact the horses all vanished in an instant all over the world is more fantasy (unless you consider the decrease in their numbers by 2 million since 2005 and the current attempt to ban horse slaughter).
The characters feel it means something serious and they must get over their lose in order to figure out what it is and what to do. But I’ve had to cut a lot of information due to length. So, while Neil leaves out some information to allow the readers to decide I haven’t done it here. I am doing more of that in more recent works, which may be what the analysis picked up on.
What I find most intriguing about Neil’s work is his rhythm, often almost poetic, but it flows like a melody. It comes out when he reads his own work. I didn’t read The Graveyard Story, I listened to Neil read it. In this sense he is definitely an artful storyteller, as others have said. In a by-gone age he would have been the storyteller for the children, telling a tale even adults would be captivated by.
When I re-read my work I often use another voice, in my head, to hear it. It’s really to test the rhythm. I consider a poetic rhythm, like music, an important essence of the story. And I’m learning from him. I don’t like horror (Stephen King) or much of thrill seeking stuff young people are drawn to, but he writes macabre without it being scary for kids, or me. I’m also learning that disconnected things can be connected in stories. It’s a reminder of a children’s literature course I started but didn’t quite finish. I had to pick three words from a dictionary at random and use them in a story. I vaguely recall something about a light bulb and an elephant, but can’t remember the third word. It’d be interesting to re-read that today.
So, except for a few superficial similarities I can only be flattered by the comparison without really understanding it.
As far as other works and other matches, only the third of my trilogy, Where the Horses Run, is matched with Dan Brown. I mention that because of the above description of using pre-history and/or mythology to blend with the plot, which is something he does. But it also matched me with him for the first chapter entry of Ariel’s Cottage and the prologue for The Furies of Orestes, another yet unfinished.
According to: http://nickmomrik.com/2004/06/11/dan-brown-writing-style/ Dan’s style also includes short chapters and his story takes place in a short amount of time. I’m not sure what constitutes a short chapter for me ~ three pages? In one of Brown’s books I read a chapter of one sentence. Now that’s short. That my trilogy and most works take place over two weeks may be long by Dan’s standard. Dan has good character development which is something reviewers have said about my stories. And he has a lot of suspense. I know Ariel’s Cottage does, so I’ll agree with this match.
I will leave the other matches for Part 2. Let me know who you match with on one of your stories or great works of literature.
- Neil Gaiman: ‘I’m lots of different cults’ (guardian.co.uk)
- Does Not Having a Writing Style Count as a Writing Style? (anintrovertmind.com)