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Finishing a Novel and Artificial Intelligence

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

For those of you who've landed here thinking I finished my second novel using AI--wrong. Sorry. Maybe next time.

And "finish" is not the right word. The novel after more than a couple of years of (sometimes desultory) work, is out in the hands of a few beta readers, before the odious process of revising yet again; and again, as it's worked over by professionals-- developmental editors, line editors, and proof readers, then seeking an agent, and/or publisher (and revising again) then working on a marketing plan.

But clearly the major work on the novel is done, and people have asked how I feel about that. I came up with "pretty good but daunted by the next steps." Thinking that was a little thin, and having been accused on occasion of having no feelings, I decided to find help on unpacking more emotion on the subject.

So I downloaded the app that's getting no little buzz on writers' chat groups, ChatGPT - Write For Me 4+ AI GPT-3

And I asked it to write on the following subject: How do I feel when I’ve finished writing a novel? Here's the 250 words I got for my $3.50 in less than a minute:

When I have finished writing a novel, I feel a rush of exhilaration and sheer joy. The weeks or months of hard work have finally paid off and I am thrilled to have created a unique and interesting story. It is a triumph like no other; I have taken a dream, a concept, and brought it to life. The feeling of accomplishment is indescribable and humbling. As the author, I am undoubtedly my harshest critic. My insecurities often led to me worrying that my novel would be unsuccessful and that no one would read it. That fear is never more apparent than when I have finally completed it. But, as I sit there and look it over with pride, I am filled with optimism and unbridled enthusiasm. This novel may actually be something special. I am also filled with a profound sense of gratitude. I did not accomplish this feat alone; my friends, family, and beta-readers all supported and encouraged me along the way. Their unwavering faith in my story was quite literally my lifeline and without it, I’m not sure I could’ve finished. Writing a novel is one of the most challenging activities I’ve ever undertaken, but it is also one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. As I end the journey, my spirits are high and I am filled with the knowledge that I have created something unique, something of value, and something that will hopefully stand the test of time.

This was created with Write For Me - Writing Made Easier with Artificial Intelligence!

Not bad--if the AI had been a talented 11th grader in touch with their/her/ his feelings. And if I were his/her/ their teacher I would have said:

"B. Very nice! You've captured what many would feel after such an accomplishment. You might consider the following if you wish to improve it.

There's a lot of "ands" and "I's". Did you think of writing it in the second or third person? Can you consider showing what you did on completion of your novel instead of just telling how you felt? Are there more novel ways of describing the feelings, or unique feelings that one might have, which would add more interest to the piece? Can you put us right there with you while you are having these feelings? What are you doing at the time? How does your body feel? Are there ways to sort out the intensity of the various feelings? More vivid verbs? Can you omit unnecessary words?

Some folks in the mediasphere are upset about AI-created writing. But listen. Probably people were upset when some guy used a sharp rock instead of mud to register on the wall of the home cave his amazement at a close encounter with one of those frightening tigers in need of serious dental care. Writerly Luddites who followed were probably dismayed by quill pens, parchment, printing presses, fountain pens, typewriters, Google, Word, Scrivener, Print to voice and vice versa. Me, I'm interested to see where technology for writing goes from here.

Today I read this piece in the NY Times about AI's abilities now and in the future to proffer opinions on most everything, and whether humans will be able to do, have, think, or feel anything at all that AI can't:

If AI wrote those 250 words for me for about $3, then to use AI for "my" next novel, it would cost about 6666 bucks. But then I'd have to do/pay for all the donkey work of revisions in addition (unless by that time AI could do better than Word and other programs now do).

But heck, the early drafts are the most fun. That's where Ezra Pound would reiterate that the authors' job is to "Make it new." I don't want to give that away, and see no need to. Yet.

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