Luckily, several of you guys came through for me, played along and shared your thoughts on the subject. Thank you! I got some really interesting results like one excerpt that most people guessed correctly and one that everyone kept guessing wrong. The post also sparked some thought provoking e-mail conversations, but I'll wait to share all that with you at the bottom of the post, I know you all are itching to find out who wrote what. So without further ado . . .
1) There's something else in their eyes, too, something that will haunt them, all unacknowledged, until the day they die, and cast its shadow over even their happiest days. The fear of what they did. What they did in the unremembered part of their shared dream."
That's what keeps him where he is and makes him take the telephone even though he is sweltering, roasting, fucking melting.
-Stephen King, Dreamcatcher
2) Like and equal are two entirely different things.
For the moment she had escaped from the power of IT.
She knew that her own puny little brain was no match for this great, bodiless, pulsing, writhing mass on the round dais. She shuddered as she looked at IT.
-Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
You'll find your way. Trust me.
Tentative, she inched forward blindly. Leap of faith? Katherine could not even see her hand directly in front of her face. She kept moving forward, but within a matter of seconds, she was entirely lost. Where am I going?
That was three years ago.
-Dan Brown, The Lost Symbol
4) It turned its back on me and began to walk back the way I had come, toward the village, back to the empty house I had left that morning; and it whistled as it walked.
I've been here ever since. Hiding. Waiting. Part of the bridge.
-Neil Gaiman, Troll-Bridge
5) The horizon merged with the dunes into a single mass of dusty beige. Out here even the sky is sucked dry of all color. It is a smudge of pale taupe, paler topaz; a trace of blued-steel, met by the blade of the horizon. To the south, east and west there was nothing, miles and miles of nothing.
-Jennifer Roberson, Sword Dancer
6) At last, after some days, the sun again appeared and shone brightly over the white ground, but he went to bed again behind the mountains at a very early hour, as if he did not find such pleasure in looking down on the earth as when everything was green and flowery. But then the moon came out clear and large and lit up the great white snowfield all through the night, and the next morning the while mountain glistened and sparkled like a huge crystal.
-Johanna Spyri, Heidi
7)"Ohhhhh . . ."
It was the long cry of a man gone over a cliff into Eternity.
It seemed we sat waiting to hear him hit bottom.
Far off in the hills in the upper part of the house, his door banged shut.
My soul turned over and died.
-Ray Bradbury, Any Friend of Nicholas Nickleby's is a Friend of Mine
First, no one got them all correct, however one person got pretty darn close and that was Tony Hunt, (aka. laughingwolf) at . . . paws and reflect. He got them all correct except for one, and I'll get to that in just a second. But for now, Tony you ROCK! I don't know if it's the editor training in ya or if you just got a nose for writing styles but damn, color me impressed!
Just about everyone guessed #1 correctly as being male. Not only that, but Michael Offutt nailed it by naming the author right off the bat. YOU DA MAN Michael. (: Now, I think what gave it away in part, was the f-bomb. But before you start booing me for that, please understand I'm not saying women never use profanity in their writing. I know I have and will use it IF I feel it necessary. That being said, I believe in our society, it is generally less accepted for a woman to use profanity than a man. Again, that's not saying that women aren't allowed to cuss or don't cuss. I'll fucking cuss and say shit all the damn time if I please. But it's my opinion that men get slightly different reactions especially in public when they use profanity than when women use it. Women in the 1930s for example would never use profanity to the extent that women use it today. But nonetheless, the stigma is still there and society still frowns more readily on women who cuss than on men who cuss. I think it's an unwritten rule that can effect the way some women write. Just my 2 cents folks. I wonder how different the answers would have been had I left out the f-bomb from King's excerpt . . .
The second excerpt was another one most people guessed correctly as being written by a woman. Michael Offutt even made the comment that it must have been written by a woman because "Men don't use the word 'puny'. And I agree with him in the general sense. Obviously, we're not saying no man has ever not used the word puny, but in general men would probably choose a different word.
On the flip side, the one excerpt that just about everyone missed, even Tony (; was #7 Ray Bradbury. The only people that got it correct was SP Bowers, Celeste Holloway, and Melissa (all women by the way). Ray Bradbury in my opinion, is the master of all masters when it comes to using imagery and writing description. No one tops Ray. No. One. I just have to share with you another example of what I'm talking about, it's one sentence long and a perfect description:
"The second night a dog trotted by, wearing his tongue half out of his mouth like a loosely tied red cravat, smiling at trees." Ray Bradbury, That Woman On The Lawn
Anyway, as for the rest of the excerpts, people were pretty much divided. Michael made the comment that descriptions are androgynous and it would be difficult to tell them apart. To which I respectfully disagreed and made some of the following points. I think you can SOMETIMES tell if a segment is written by a woman or by a man depending on word choice in the same way Michael said "men don't use the word puny." Take the sun as an example. How would you describe it? Like a ball of fire or like a sunflower. (Probably neither, but I'm trying to prove a point). It's my opinion that most men would avoid using the sunflower metaphor or any flowery type language because that tends to be attributed to a more feminine voice. Then Tony made a good point in one of his comments when he said "usually, the female writer includes detailed info of a scene, like the number of buttons on a sleeve, something a male, usually, won't mention." I agree with him. How many times have you heard the saying, "women notice everything" or women saying "it's the little things that count . . ." or "PUT THE TOILET SEAT DOWN!" To which Michael says, he sees my points but "I still think Atwood writes like a man." LOL!
Anyway, Michael made another interesting point. He noted that (and I'm paraphrasing a bit) male writers often bring their ideology into their writing more so than women. Michael calls this "writing with your Richard." xD Love it! Now, of course women do this as well, but he sees it more often with male writers that use their story as a soapbox on which to stand on. Women, from what he read, tend to refrain from judgement and focus more on the emotional aspects of a scene and what it means for the characters. This aspects of male vs female writers really intrigues me and I'd love to dig deeper into this subject.
There is one other aspect I believe effects the way men and women write. It's not a very popular idea, but I believe a lot of the differences we see stems from the fact that biologically/physically men and women are different. One is not better than the other, we're just different and that fundamental difference will have a ripple effect (even if it's slight) that effects what we do and how we think.
In any event, I believe with practice and training, a good writer can learn to write with a more masculine or feminine voice if they choose, it just takes time to develop. But what if you're a woman writer working with a male editor?! Ok, ok, I'll stop here because this post is already mega F****** long, but I find this subject fascinating and would love to hear your thoughts.
Oh and last thing, I promise. The following is a link to the Gender Genie. As stated on their site, "the Gender Genie uses a simplified version of an algorithm . . . to predict the gender of an author." Basically, all you have to do is copy/paste text into their textbox and it will predict the gender of the author. Not sure how accurate this is but it could be fun to test out some of your POVs with.
((((((HAPPY FRIDAY EVERYONE!))))))
if you made it all the way down here, consider this your virtual hug.
Have a great weekend