Wednesday, March 16, 2011

You Write Like a Girl! (but only when I blog)

What I'm reading right now: The Child Thief by Brom 
A darker retelling of Peter Pan; Walt Disney this ain't. I get the impression though, that it is closer to J.M. Barrie's original. I've only just begun it, so I can't say too much just yet, but it's been awhile since a book grabbed me by the lapels and dragged me beneath its covers (and check out the Brom link, the illustrations--also done by the author--are stunning).

To give you an idea, The Art Department interviewed Brom when the book first came out. Here's a snippet:

What is it about Peter Pan that drew you to this story?

Simply reading the original story (not the water-downed Disney version). I was amazed what a dark and disturbing tale it really is. Here's a quote from the original Peter Pan: “The boys on the island vary, of course, in numbers, according as they get killed and so on; and when they seem to be growing up, which is against the rules, Peter thins them out; but at this time there were six of them, counting the twins as two.”

Thins them out? Huh? What does that mean? Does Peter kill them, like culling a herd? Does he send them away somewhere? If so, where? Or does Peter just put them in such peril that the crop is in need of constant replenishing?

That one paragraph forever changed my perception of Peter Pan from that of a high-spirited rascal to something far more sinister. “Thins them out,” the words kept repeating in my head. How many children had Peter stolen, how many had died, how many had been thinned out? Peter himself said, “To die will be an awfully big adventure.” Once I pondered these unsettling elements I began to wonder what this children’s book would be like if the veil of Barrie’s lyrical prose were peeled back, if the violence and savagery were presented in grim stark reality. How would children really react to being kidnapped and thrust into such a situation? How hard would it be for them to fall under the spell of a charismatic sociopath, to shuck off the morality of civilization and become cold-blooded killers? And these thoughts were the seeds for The Child Thief.


Now for something a bit more light-hearted. I was on Kate Duncan's site today, Write About, and she gave a list of some terrific tools for writers. They include:

1) A tool that checks for adverbs, weak words, "said" replacements, passive voice and ending with prepositions.

2) A tool that checks for "be" verbs, abstract nouns, etc.

3) A tool that gives you stats on readability, sentence length, etc.

4) A tool that counts the number of repeated words and gives you a most frequently used hit list.

5) A visual dictionary--awesome!

6) A reverse dictionary--equally awesome!

You'll have to go to Kate's website to get the links, easy enough, just use the link above.

And finally, the tool that prompted this blog:

7) The Gender Genie: A tool that uses key words typically used by males and females and tells you whether you write like a guy or a girl.

Obviously I had to check this out. From what I can tell, the Gender Genie analyzes your text for key words that are designated as male or female. There does not appear to be any psychology behind this. For instance "the" is designated as male. This is not to say that when men write we use the definite article because we are focused on concrete ideas and tangible objects and women are more abstract--I'm purely speculating.

The way I think it works is the creators took a bunch of source material that they knew had been written by women and and equal amount written by men, broke it down, found the patterns, and made an algorithm resulting in some broad (no pun intended) generalizations, which often times are an indicator.

I put in two fiction pieces, one non-fiction piece, and a sample from this blog. The fiction pieces scored strongly male and female but tilted the scales toward male. The non-fiction piece weighed heavily toward male, and the blog post I used weighed heavily female (but I suspect a review of all my blogposts would swing the vote--just sayin').

1 comment:

the Damsel in Dis Dress said...

Good grief! So much fun stuff to play with here. I'll never get any "real" writing done now. Totally your fault.

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