I write like a man, it seems

For one of my Finnegan novels, I intend to have Greg Finnegan solve the “mystery” by determining that a piece of writing attributed to a writer of one gender is actually the work of a writer of the other gender. This opens a series of revelations that lead to other conclusions in the story. (I intend to title the novel Finnegans Deciphered.) I’d like to write that novel next after I finish The Sleep of Reason.

One problem with this plot device, however, is writing convincingly in a “female style.” Now the first thing you may be asking yourself is whether there are male and female writing styles. I suspect a case could be made for writing in an ethnic style, or one that is identifiably cultural or even national. But is there a generally identifiable way that men write that is different from women?

Some people believe that there is. Several researchers at the Bar-Ilan University in Israel and the Illinois Institute of Technology have come up with an algorithm that calculates the number and frequency of “male” versus “female” words in a text to determine the sex of the writer.

I put the first 600 or so words of The Sleep of Reason into their online device to see just how I fared. It turns out a write like a guy. My score was 632 male to 359 female.

I’m not sure what this tells me about myself or my writing. If the score were reversed, I wouldn’t be alarmed, nor would I attempt to revise my style. I just write the way I write. Certainly I’m not qualified to judge the assumptions that went into the making of the algorithm, but I suppose that culturally speaking, I could ask whether there is any need to make a distinction between male and female writing styles, at least any need any longer.

Just for curiosity and conversation fodder, you might want to pump some of your own writing through the gender calculator. The link is here.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Finnegans, Humble efforts

One Comment on “I write like a man, it seems”


  1. Well, I had to find out whether I was male or female and guess what? Yes, I write like a woman, which is lucky for my husband.

    I like to think that books are of neither sex that books are books and can be read by anyone.

    My score if you are interested was Female 803 & male 691

    Best wishes,
    Annie


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