As an established author, you're no stranger to the creative process of writing stories. But have you ever thought about incorporating artificial intelligence into your workflow?
Guess what? I already have. I used ChatGPT, an AI tool, to help me write this very blog post and all my other posts about AI. In fact, the introductory paragraph highlighted in blue that you’ve just read is AI generated, and any other passages in blue are also AI generated. That way, you can see exactly which parts are a result of Artificial Intelligence.
But it’s not just this post that I’ve had AI help with. Over the past hour, I’ve used ChatGPT to experiment with writing a tweet, a Facebook post, and come up with a blurb.
And you know what? The results are surprisingly (scarily?) good. I know there's a lot of debate about the ethics of it all, or how this might negatively impact writers. I'm undecided on how I feel about all that. What I do know is that the AI revolution is in full-swing and in my view, it's better to go along for the ride than ignore it.
But how can we as authors go along for the ride? Here’s an overview.
How To Use ChatGPT
Head on over to chat.openai.com and set up a free account. Once you're in, you'll be prompted to write in a text box, as you would in something like Facebook Messenger. This is your chance to make a request. Just imagine you're emailing an assistant with a request. What you type in here can be pretty important. The better you prompt, the better results you get. I share examples below.
Something to note before we start though: ChatGPT is still a prototype, and its increasing popularity has been overwhelming the servers, which means sometimes, you won't be able to access it. A premium option is becoming available called ChatGPT Plus which promises better access and faster responses for $20 (about £16.50) per month. Though it’s not yet available, you can join a waiting list which you can find here.
In the future, the likes of Microsoft will be integrating this software into Windows. Not ideal for us Mac users!
Onto how you, as an author, can use AI...
Analyzing and Editing Your Work
I used a different tool for this: Marlowe. Marlowe is the 'creative child' of Matthew Jockers, Ph.D., co-author of The Bestseller Code. This AI tool can read your book and deliver a 32+ page comprehensive critique within 15 minutes.
You can get a basic report for free. But to get a more detailed report, there's a cost associated. The team there gave me a report for free, and it was fascinating. I uploaded one of my bestsellers, Wall of Silence.
Marlowe was able to analyse elements of the novel such as my narrative arc, beats, pacing, character personality traits, primary emotions, key subjects, overused words and cliches and more. What I enjoyed most was the way Marlowe was able to compare all these elements to other similar authors. It's so insightful to see which authors you're most like based on an analysis of your actual writing, themes, plot pacing and more.
I will definitely be using Marlowe for the first draft of my next novel so that I can address any issues pre-publication. I'll report back with a blog post and a special discount for registered users of Savvy Writers!
Aiding Your Inspiration
As well as text-focused AI tools like Marlowe and ChatGPT, there are also some brilliant image generation tools which I've been using to help visualise the characters and settings in my next novel, and create a mood board. Once I'm ready to share more details about my new novel, I'll write a blog post dedicated to it.
I found the best image tool is DALL-E which you can find at labs.openai.com Like ChatGPT, it's struggling under the strain of its popularity so you might sometimes not be able to log on. But when you can, you simply set up a free account and like ChatGPT, you'll be invited to enter a prompt in a text box.
I used it to create visuals of my characters. So I took a description of a character. Example: 'Please create a hi-res 4k painting of a tired male British police officer aged 40 with curly brown hair and red cheeks'. You have the chance to refresh until the right image comes up. It took some tweaking but eventually, it was absolutely brilliant for uncannily putting the character I saw in my head in front of me. The picture it produced now hangs above my desk with many others on a mood board. The same for setting, scenes and just general 'vibe' images to inspire me.
Going forward, I'll be using images for social media too.
Another tool is Midjourney. It's just as fab but it all runs via a Discord server which can take some time to get your head around. You can find it at discord.com/invite/midjourney
Both these tools allow you to generate a select number of images for free. To get more, you have to sign up for a monthly plan.
Helping with Your Novel’s Package
AI tools like ChatGPT can also assist with your novel's blurb, title, and cover by generating suggestions based on the information provided. For example, you can provide a brief summary of your novel and ask ChatGPT to write a blurb. Similarly, you can give a general idea of the theme or plot of your novel and ask for a title suggestion, or provide a description of the characters or setting. You can even ask for cover design ideas.
I asked it to rewrite the blurb for a novel already published in the UK which I might release myself in the US this year. It gave me the bones of a blurb, despite knowing very little about the novel. Clearly, the AI is aware of the basics of writing a gripping blurb and the conventions of particular genres.
I then asked for help with the novel's US title by sharing this new blurb with it. The results were so-so (‘Cliffside Secrets’) but it did throw in a tagline (‘A Psychological Suspense Novel of Motherhood and Redemption).
When I asked it to make the title better, it came up with a much better title: ‘On the Edge.’ While it’s not an amazing result, it definitely helps when brainstorming.
At the moment, I'm not convinced ChatGPT can reliably come up with great titles and blurbs but it can certainly be a fab brainstorm partner for us authors who spend so much of our time alone.
You can read a more detailed guide to this, including examples, here.
Helping with Publicity
As an author, managing your social media presence can be a challenging task. But with the help of AI, you can take your social media game to the next level.
One of the most significant (and maybe worrying for many) benefits of using AI for social media is its ability to generate high-quality content quickly and efficiently. From crafting captivating tweets and Instagram captions to helping with blog posts, ChatGPT can generate text that is both relevant and compelling. This can save you time and energy when it comes to creating content, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your writing and promoting your work.
Another advantage of AI is its ability to understand context and generate appropriate responses. For example, if you're using social media to interact with your readers, ChatGPT can help you respond to comments and messages in a timely and professional manner. This can improve your readers' engagement and help you build a positive reputation on social media.
In addition, ChatGPT can also be used to analyze your social media data and provide insights about your audience. For example, by analyzing the text of your social media posts, ChatGPT can help you identify the topics and themes that are resonating with your readers and use this information to create more effective content in the future.
You can also use it to come up with ideas for blog posts and more. There's a great tutorial from the Design With Canva team on how you can do this. Though it's Canva focused (which in itself is useful), it also gives you a sense of how prompts can be used to generate ideas.
I had a go at all of these. You can read a more detailed guide to this, including examples, here.
Overall, I'm a huge fan of AI tools like ChatGPT. It's super exciting and I truly believe it's a development that will help my writing career, like a personal assistant would.
But I do have concerns. I did some experimenting with writing a short story (which I won't be using, it was just for experimentation purposes) and the result was good enough to make me realise a zillion people will be jumping on the tool to attempt to write short stories themselves, or even whole novels.
This in turns leads to an obvious concern: are tools like this going to take over the role of writers? I definitely think this is a legitimate concern for blog writers and so on. And the truth is, some mega-selling books are known for have a formulaic approach without a huge amount of flair, so there's no denying AI, with some clever prompting, could produce works that could compete with us as authors. But can it truly beat the unique flair and voice a human brings to the table? And if someone is able to be clever enough to prompt ChatGPT into writing a whole novel that is decent enough to be published and enjoyed by readers, then that 'human author' has to be applauded for being clever enough to do this. So who knows? All I know is I feel safer tooling myself up with as much info as I can about this new phenomenon... and so should you. I hope this article helps.
To see a whole list of tools, head on over to The Creative Penn blog at thecreativepenn.com/ai-writing-nlg