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Algorithms to the Rescue

Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 1:52 pm
by timberline
I just finished compiling these tips for the writing group I moderate. They may also be of interest to you:

Using Algorithms to Check Your Writing

The Internet is evolving into a magical place, and tools are coming on line to help both new and seasoned writers. Here are four I’ve come across recently:

The Him or Her Question: Is there such a thing as “women’s writing,” and what are the distinguishing characteristics? What are the determining factors of gendered textuality — the relation between the placement and meaning of words and the reader’s interpretation? The deepest question is, Can a man write like a woman, and vice versa?

Historically, some writers have done an acceptable job of cross-gender authorship. Classics were written by Daniel Defoe (Moll Flanders in The Fortunate Mistress), Charles Dickens (Esther Summerson in Bleak House) and Samuel Richardson (Pamela). But, it’s disconcerting if the story is written in the first person singular and you get to the third paragraph before learning — horrors! — the author isn’t who you thought he/she is….

Fortunately, there’s a Web site that analyzes gender based on word usage. Go to, paste your copy and see what the numbers say about the writer’s gender.

Did You Really Write That?! Another site I’m still looking at is aimed at Young Adult-genre writers, but it might help you dissect your writing. Analyze your story by going to Mason Starling says, “This tool will check your writing sample for passive sentences, wordy writing, and repetitive phrases. Story Analyzer was designed to be used after checking your work through a standard spelling/grammar checker. This is an evolving project, so new features will be added as I come up with them.”He has lots of good writing tips as well, such as, “You need to show your readers the story and not tell your readers the story. This may sound wrong because as writers aren’t we story-tellers? Yes we are, but let’s look at the sentences below,” and he gives good examples.

Naming Your Babies: We need to give some thought to naming characters. Now, there’s a way to make good choices. Behind the Name is a site that lets you browse names, their etymology, a list of languages from Afrikaans to Zulu, articles, and current events about names, Several articles also discuss fads in girls’ names (and why they change more often than boys’ names) and psychological implications of certain names.

Translating to…: There’ll come a time when your character wants to shout “Give me the gun!” in Spanish or German (Dame la pistola or Gib mir das Gewehr). Much as I hate machine translation,. Babelfish, at, can be a lifesaver. Put in a word of phrase, indicate the languages you’re coming from and going to, and the translation pops up.

Re: Algorithms to the Rescue

Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 10:54 pm
by JillStar
Awesome Timber!
Very useful information. I'm going to check these out!