Loading...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Are You a Female or Male Writer?

By Anthony S. Policastro

There is a nifty site called The Genie Gender at Bookblog that uses a unique algorithm to determine your gender by analyzing a sample of your writing.

Of course, I had to try it. I wouldn’t have been able to sleep. So I loaded over 1,000 words (it works best with 500 or more words) from two of my novels and both times it said I was female. I tried it again with different passages and again it said I was a female. I even put this post on the site and it insisted I was a female.

This would not be too bad if I were writing to a female audience, but both novels are thrillers aimed at a very male audience. So maybe men are really from Mars and women are from Venus. Where I’m from I don’t know. Maybe I should start a new novel that will appeal to female readers or change my name to Antoinette or Toni.

Anyway, I got to thinking what if there was an algorithm that could rewrite your novel or short story so that it would appeal to a woman? How about women 30 and under? How about women 30 and older? How about men?

You just simply write a chapter and then feed it to the algorithm and it would rewrite it so it would appeal to any particular audience you choose. So if you were writing a thriller and wanted it to appeal to women 30 and under you could choose that demographic or you could write a syrupy love story and have it appeal to men over 45. Publishers would love it.

Is it possible? Maybe, maybe not. I would hate to think of our noble profession boiling down to an algorithm in a computer.

The reason I thought of this is because the Genie algorithm counts and compares a number of key words in your writing and assigns them a gender: male or female. If you have a higher number of female words, obviously you’re a female writer.

So I took a brief look at novel writing software to see if these programs were using sophisticated algorithms. Many basically work like story instructors – they give you the tree of your plot and make suggestions, but in the end you have to write the story. Phew, I was relieved. Computers cannot replace writers…not yet anyway.

***

I found the link to the Genie site in a blog post by Therese Walsh, Turning Xs into Ys: Guy Talk that Works on Writer Unboxed, a blog about the craft and business of genre fiction. Take a look – it's an interesting site.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Does Russo Inspire or Demoralize?

By Michael Neff

From an interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Russo on the Barnes & Noble website.

Q: Many writers are hardly "overnight success" stories. How long did it take for you to get where you are today? Any rejection-slip horror stories or inspirational anecdotes?

A: My first novel, Mohawk, was rejected a couple dozen times before it was finally published. Most of the people who read it said they didn't know how to publish a book that wasn't quite "literary" and not quite "popular" either. Anyway, years later, my agent was having lunch with an editor who had just turned down a first novel by a gifted young writer. It was well written, she admitted, but she didn't know how to publish it. What she really wished, she said wistfully, was that my agent would give her a writer like Richard Russo. What good would that do, he replied. He'd offered her Mohawk and she'd turned it down for the same reason she was turning this novel down. Which she refused to believe until he showed her the rejection slip.