To quote Ernest Hemingway in a letter he wrote to F. Scott Fitzgerald, “We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to hurt like hell before you can write seriously.” These words still ring true with writers today. Writing a book or even blog posts can be painful. Blank pages haunt authors at the desk and in their dreams.
In recent months, AI tools such as ChatGPT have dramatically changed this art form. Entire books have been written by AI that you can purchase, and over 200 e-books in Amazon’s Kindle store cite ChatGPT as an author or co-author as of mid-February 2023.
So how are these new AI-authors using ChatGPT to write books? Do you just tell it to write you a story about a rabbit who got lost in the woods and found his way home? (Thumper made it out of the woods so calm down). But what is the quality of this work? Are there better alternatives in maximizing the use of AI to jumpstart your work? We’ve provided 3 ways below to use AI to make you a better (or faster) writer.
If You Don’t Have a Plot or Characters, use ChatGPT to Brainstorm
Not chock full of ideas for the next Harry Potter? Well you need an idea for a book before you start writing. Using ChatGPT to brainstorm for ideas is a perfect place to start.
Ask any question and it will provide you with a plethora of ideas to get started. Want to write a book about a magical land far, far away? Tell ChatGPT to give you ideas for magical characters that exist in folklore. You can also specify the amount that you’d like to see returned so you have multiple little furry creatures to build a plot around.
Use Prompts for the Outline of Your Story
The initial reaction to first time users is to tell ChatGPT to write you a story about (insert subject of that novel you’ve been telling everyone about). Like Thumper the Rabbit. But this gets you mixed results and limited content length.
The more information you provide ChatGPT the better your results will be. For example, when asked if ChatGPT can write you a 40,000 word novel, the answer is yes but having more details around plot, outline, characters, etc. will provide better results. And it would take anywhere from 10 – 15 hrs.
This article from Taskade provides numerous prompts to get ChatGPT humming. A few nuggets for those creative taste buds:
- Create a list of potential subplots for a novel about “theme of your novel”
- Write a descriptive paragraph about the protagonist for a novel about “theme of your novel”
- Generate a list of potential locations for a novel about “theme of your novel”
Use ChatGPT as Your Writing Partner
Time to quit playing who blinks first with the blank page and get to writing. If you have trouble getting started, ask ChatGPT to provide you with some writing prompts to get unstuck. Or have it write an opening chapter, or your first couple of pages to get words on the page.
ChatGPT can act as your first line of defense as an editor once you get in the flow.
- Grammatical errors- As an AI language model, it can identify and correct grammatical mistakes.
- Plot holes – if you notice a plot hole in your story, ask ChatGPT for suggestions on how to fill the gap.
- Dialogue issues – ask ChatGPT – does this sound something like my character would say? Have the model work in your favor to adjust dialogue and prose.
ChatGPT can be a life changing tool regardless of your endeavors. For writing specifically, we like to think of it as the Evan Goldberg to your Seth Rogen. (Evan Goldberg is Rogen’s writing partner for all you Boomers out there. And Seth Rogen is a comedic actor and talented writer. If you don’t know who Seth Rogen is ask ChatGPT.) A writing pal who will give you solid advice, be honest and forthcoming with tough feedback, and light a fire when you need it to crank out the words.
So don’t be intimidated by the scary AI model that writes back. Dip your toe in and see where it leads. You never know, you may be citing ChatGPT as your New York Times bestseller’s writing partner.