Friday

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.

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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.

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