A writer with multiple personalities?

That's what a website suggests after an analysis of a week of Mossback columns.
That's what a website suggests after an analysis of a week of Mossback columns.

Okay, it's irresistible, a perfect way for writers to waste time (as if we needed new ways). You enter a sample of your work, and a "statistical analysis tool ... analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them with those of the famous writers." The question answered: Who do you write like?

A former Crosscut-colleague turned me on to this via Facebook. He said he was contemplating suicide because the software determined that he wrote like Dan Brown. Who doesn't want to write like a multi-millionaire bestselling author? A guy with self-respect or a six-ton sack of sour grapes on his back. But my advice is, if at first you get Dan Brown, try, try again.

I had to take up the challenge, so I entered the three stories I wrote for Crosscut last week.

The first was my piece on the Barefoot Bandit and why I thought he was a punk. Vintage Mossback? No. The computer says vintage Chuck Palahniuk, the guy who wrote Fight Club, only this time, I was riffing on the flight club. Okay, I'll take it.

Next up was my story on why Seattle should vote on the deep-bore tunnel. Many readers thought I was crazy. The computer: It thought I was writing science fiction. My prose style, it said, was like Arthur C. Clarke's. Perhaps the computer is a pal of Hal's. For those who don't like the tunnel vote idea, breathe easy. Clearly my column was a deftly crafted work of speculative fiction about a future that will nevercome to pass, just like 2001: A Space Odyssey.


Lastly, I popped in my story on how to prevent future boondoggles, like the tunnel is sure to be. My suggestion was that we garnish the wages and take the assets of city council members to cover tunnel cost overruns. Of course, I'm assuming the a worst-case scenario. The computer was right on it. The software said the column was written in the style of H.P. Lovecraft. Now that is right on: the whole subject of mega-projects, their costs, and lack of accountability is weird, a genuine horror story.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.