Astonished. Disbelief. Horrified. Redundant. These are the feelings that bubbled up the first time I experimented with ChatGPT. I put off playing with the technology, nothing can compare to a human’s creativity — just a fad or toy. I felt apathy towards creatives who shared their worry about the machines taking over and writers will become redundant. Just another fear tactic, because nothing could be that good. The growing hype piqued my interest. I wanted to understand what the fuss is about. AI is the next big thing for writers. Whether we like it or not, AI is on our doorsteps.
The magic of AI is buzzing around creative circles and beyond. As I write this ChatGPT has hit mainstream conscious. I logged into ChatGPT, not expecting much. My first mission for the machine: write a 100-word fiction story.
The story was pretty damn good. But maybe it was a fluke. Let’s try again.
Mission 2: write a 100-word story about a haunted house.
My jaw dropped. The machine wrote a flawless story that mimics in style many stories I have posted on my blog. The machine nailed story structure; the beginning, middle, and end. The haunted house story I posted as my weekly flash fiction and generated some conversations around AI. The reaction was a mixture of my thoughts of “holy shit. AI is going to make us redundant” and the story is technically fine but feels cold. The flash fiction story, “Creepy”, and comments can be read here.
Despite my initial reaction, that Terminators are on the rise and Skynet is about to take over, I’ve had time to play around more and bring myself back to logic. The unknown is scary. AI advancing in the future is scary. But as of 2023, the technology needs improvement before human writers become redundant. As I played around more with the current AI, I note every story the machine wrote, whether it be one hundred words or five hundred words, suffered from a passive voice and the sentences were polished, too polished. AI is missing dialogue, characterisation, and words that make the stories unique. Admittedly, there were good descriptive lines. But the description is only a part of a story. The plots are strong and can be expanded in a larger story by the writer. In the end, I conclude these stories could act as a first draft or an ideas generator. But to feel real, they need work.
Flash fiction, in general, reads like a summary. I don’t always have enough words to include dialogue when I write 100-word stories. That’s why AI excelled on my first generated stories — they were only 100 words. Overall, I am impressed with how good AI is for generating flash fiction and plot outlines. I doubt the machine could produce a gripping novel with no effort from a writer. A plot outline for a novel? Yes. But, don’t expect intricate story threads. A writer will still have to go in and add a lot of magic with editing and rewriting. The AI reminds me of the fairytales we read as children. Very passive.
AI as a Research Tool
As a research tool, the machine sucked. Too much misinformation and mistakes. AI writes like an authority figure with s*** for brains. A writer has to catch the errors and edit. I think I have discovered why for a few years now when I surf the internet for content relating to a research topic many of the posts read generic and the same — written by lifeless AI. Still useful, but boring. Lacking in personality. There is an irony, blogging was originally informal content. I predict, in the long run, readers will be looking for individuality rather than content for the sake of content. The market is saturated. Writers, fiction and non-fiction alike, will have to find ways to stand out amongst the crowd.
For fun, I also tried AI Dungeon. AI Dungeon is a storytelling game. To start the game, you select a setting and name your protagonist and type. The game spits up a scenario.
Playing is a modern form of those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. The difference being the AI requires players to type in a response and add to the story rather than being given story options and skipping to the corresponding page that reflects the choice the reader made.
My playing experience was amusing. Plot hole galore. In short, Hallie lets Eric into her hut. Eric gets pissy because Hallie wants his firstborn and refuses his gems. Eric grabs a gun and Hallie sets Nibbles on him. Hallie tries to stop the bleeding. Eric tries shooting at Hallie and she flees… into her hut (how? She’s already in the hut). She calls up the elements for protection. The elements help save Eric’s life. WTF! — my contribution is in bold.
To rectify this nonsense I went back and jigged my responses. Note: AI loves repetition.
Story logic does not exist. What are the elements doing? Why is she telling them to stop when she is the one doing the stabbing and shooting?
Beyond Eric’s storyline, there was a knock on the door. The machine became obsessed with the local sheriff, who keeps trying to kill Hallie. The story ran around in circles and became a fantasy Groundhog Day with a lot of violence. In short, the story became incoherent. Although, I’m not sure the story was coherent to begin with.
I enjoyed my witchy character, Hallie, with her pet alligator, Nibbles, and swamp hut. I’m sure The Muse has stored Hallie away for future use. Because everyone wants a penis-eating alligator. Again, AI can be employed as an ideas generator or help explore ideas.
AI technology has a way to go before it replaces creatives. Artists freaked out because the machine can now generate images. I won’t go into the ethical implications here, but the AI images do not hold a candle to artist quality work. For example, I asked the AI to create an image for the naughty fairy story I requested. The image is basic, and the hands of the fairy are a WTF. Perhaps another AI has mastered the art? Perhaps there are random brilliant images AI has created? (Update: there are crap images and some damn fine ones). From what I have seen, as of 2023, talented artists and writers are better than AI generated content. The future may be a concern as the machine becomes smarter. Until then, I encourage writers to use whatever tools are available to them. AI may speed your creativity and that’s a wonderful prospect. Treat AI as a tool. It may be a game-changer for you. At the moment, AI isn’t that much different to using ProWritingAid or Grammarly — all are creative tools and you need to make choices for your craft.
What are your thoughts on AI for writing? Is Skynet here? Are you apprehensive, embracive, or somewhere in between?
Categories: Technology, Writing, Writing Battles
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