Like for Like
It seems we here at the Wheeler Centre Dailies write in the style of H.P. Lovecraft, the early 20th-century American writer of weird fiction. We know this because I Write Like told us so, after we copy-and-pasted some text from a recent blog into it. The website claims to be able to recognise stylistic traits in a sample of writing and compare them to the traits of writers better known than ourselves. It’s a variation of the Gender Genie, featured before on the Dailies, which claims to be able to analyse a sample of writing for masculine or feminine characteristics.
It begs the questions, how is style acquired? Where does it come from? Can it be learned or is it innate? And if it can be learned, how is it to be taught? An essay penned by Richard Bausch in The Atlantic’s 2010 fiction issue argued that reading is the best instruction manual. It prompted this reply on The Millions on the best how-to writing manuals, and it reminded us of this video of MJ Hyland, in Melbourne for the 2009 Melbourne Writers Festival, speaking to the Wheeler Centre on the ins and outs of teaching writing.