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AI Revolution: How you can work with a high-end writing assistant 

According to a new article in Fortune, Bill Gates is annoyed that “the AI revolution means everyone will have their own ‘white collar’ personal assistant”. Most writers I know don’t have billions of dollars of pocket money to hire the best and brightest ghostwriters, or a whole publishing company to do editing, distribution, and marketing. The best we can afford is a free, high-end AI writing assistant that produces instant results. 

In the recent past, I have hired a large roster of contractors to help me with various projects. Often, I had to wait up to two weeks to find out I would not receive what I was promised. That led me to start double hiring so I could have a backup in case someone let me down.  

What I want for my creative projects is forward movement. I do not want to be miserable, tired, spent out, and burnt out. Deep learning language systems like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Facebook’s LLaMA are the technological upgrade we have been waiting for, and I encourage you to start using them as tools. In this post, I will use ChatGPT and my third novel (WIP) to show you how the system works. It is really easy to work with an AI writing assistant.  

First, you should start a new chat and tell the system your objective. I said, “Pretend you’re a fiction author. Please be my creative writing assistant today.” Then, I explained that I would focus on three areas: character descriptions, realistic dialogues, and character motivations. After you do that, adjust the details and send one request at a time.

Generate character descriptions

My third novel has one principal character, a woman named Hurricane Nisto. Hurricane is extroverted but not very talkative. She prefers to observe her surroundings because she is always searching for inspiration for her next fantasy. But what does she look like? In the chat, I wrote notes on Hurricane’s personality, nationality, and work environment. I then said, “I don’t have any idea what she looks like.” 

ChatGPT’s first response was a rehash of what I wrote, so I tapped “regenerate response”. This time, the system gave me a physical description of Hurricane. 

ChatGPT’s second attempt: 

Hurricane Nisto is a woman in her mid-thirties with Nordic features that reflect her Norwegian heritage. Her long, blonde hair is usually styled in a loose ponytail, framing her heart-shaped face, sharp cheekbones and piercing blue eyes. Her tall, slender build is often hidden behind loose-fitting clothes. She prefers comfortable, casual clothes because they allow her to move freely.

Draft realistic dialogue

After finding out what Hurricane Nisto might look like, I now focus on one of her conversations. She has a vivid imagination, which distracts her from the mundane tasks of her government job. Fantasising got her in trouble and this is the basis for the events unfolding in the story. 

Most of Hurricane’s conversations take place online. At one point in the story, Hurricane buys an Italian castle for the unbelievably low price of ten kroner (roughly US$1). Then, she finds out she has to renovate it. She lives in Antarctica so she needs to hire an assistant who lives in Italy.

The details I gave ChatGPT were that a castle was purchased for US$1, that Hurricane is living on a remote island, and she used a digital bulletin board to advertise for an assistant living in Italy. The output told me that a candidate, Priya, travelled to Antarctica to meet Hurricane in person. This was a mistake, given the specific details I provided, so I reminded the system to pay attention. I said, “Priya never leaves Italy and Hurricane never leaves Antarctica. They have to work virtually. Please start over.”

My question was, “How does their conversation start? Do not include self-introductions.” 

ChatGPT’s response: 

Apologies for the confusion earlier! Here’s a revised version of the conversation starter: Hurricane and Priya connect over a video chat app on a social media site. They’ve never met in person and are communicating virtually due to the distance between them.

And this is a portion of the dialogue generated: 

“It’s a long story,” answered Hurricane, “but basically, the castle has been abandoned for years, and the government sold it for a very low price as part of a preservation project. I saw the opportunity and took it, even though it’s located so far away from me.”

“That’s fascinating,” was Priya’s response. “So, how can I help you with the castle?”

“I need someone to inspect the property and give me a detailed report of its condition,” answered Hurricane. “Can you do that for me, Priya?”

An interesting draft, and the tone is appropriate for a professional conversation. And now I have an idea of how helpful (and fast!) the software is for drafting dialogue based on a general prompt. 

Brainstorm character motivations

Remember that Hurricane Nisto is an extroverted person who is not talkative. At the start of the story, we know why she ends up living in Antarctica. She breaks a rule at work, but does not get fired because her government job is secure. The workaround is to send her to Antarctica. In her new job, she supervises a weather station on a Norwegian outpost. 

The incident was a “stairwell tryst.” The system already knows that Hurricane is a fantasist, and is somewhat detached from what’s happening around her. So, I asked simply, “Why would Hurricane have a stairwell tryst with a supervisor in her office?”

After reviewing the results, I told the software that there was no “affection” between the characters, and that Hurricane was neither materialistic nor ambitious. 

ChatGPT’s 3rd attempt:

Hurricane Nisto has a tendency to daydream, and if she is not motivated by personal gain or advancement in the workplace, it’s possible that her affair with the senior colleague is driven by a need for validation or attention. She may feel overlooked or invisible within the organisation. And the attention and validation she receives from the senior colleague may make her feel seen and valued. Or, Hurricane may be bored or dissatisfied with her life, and the excitement of an illicit affair may provide a temporary escape from the monotony of her routine.

These were valid motivations, but this output required three generations. The model had a difficult time understanding that Hurricane has low self-awareness. I agree that Hurricane may be bored or dissatisfied with her life, but her character is nuanced. She acts like someone who thinks, but in reality, she is driven from one circumstance to the next. To fully develop the story, I will need to show the reader that Hurricane is likeable despite her lack of self-awareness.


One of the wonderful things about working with a deep learning language model like ChatGPT is that I have grown more confident as a writer. There are lots of people saying that AI will replace creative writers, but I am sure that won’t happen. Creative writing requires flexible thinking which present AI language models might not be able to handle.

Robots cannot tell a story with deliciously intriguing characters. Even with detailed prompts, they cannot present nuanced emotions and personality quirks. They may have a low tolerance for human flaws. But they can provide support with technical research, and provide feedback on storytelling techniques.

The secrets to generating useable output are to create detailed prompts and establish baselines for the output. Give plenty of feedback. Assistants don’t read minds and this software is not clairvoyant. Please practice, and tell me what happened.

Thank you for reading. Best of luck with your writing tasks. 


Life is short, so let’s be decent.

20 replies on “AI Revolution: How you can work with a high-end writing assistant ”

Insightful blog post Nicole. I really see the way you are vested in writing and honestly, I can’t use ChatGPT to help me with my writing task because I feel like it is a cheating system that cheats the way you write and in as much as AL known as Artificial Intelligence is effective in writing faster and saves Writers time, it doesn’t show human emotions that’s why a blog written by ChatGPT is different from the one written by human authors but hey whosever wants to use ChatGPT they should!

Liked by 1 person

Thanks for adding your thoughts. My post and scenes in my book were written by me. I’m sure you already understand that but I wanted to clarify just in case. Before now, I would have paid someone to help me with background research to help me develop a book of knowledge from which I can pick up ideas for the story. It’s not the same as having someone write for you.

ChatGPT is not the first language model to exist. And in fact, most of the news you read online is generated by language models behind pricey paywalls only accessible to professionals. It is only recently that a version of these systems have been open to members of the public.

I think everyone living in the 21st century and using software, devices, tools, products and appliances are ‘cheating on their homework’. Ordering from Uber Eats is the same as not cooking your own food, and voice typing is the same as not writing for yourself.

There’s a counterargument to be made at every stage of technological innovation, but I understand your thinking, which is that we should present our own ideas in our own words.

Best of luck with your writing journey.

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Love your detailed report about your research experience with ChatGPT! I also was afraid at the start. Because being an author myself, are we going to be obsolete in the future because of AI? But I also experienced something similar to what you did. ChatGPT is great for research or at least having something to ping-pong ideas with when humans aren’t available or patient enough. Have fun with your writing!

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Dominik thank you. Research assistants are expensive. However, if you meet some really good ones they can really help you push a major project forward.

I’m not sure how I’m going to publish this novel as yet, so I wanted to keep things very simple and move with the story. I don’t feel comfortable writing a story without researching certain elements. I wish I had access to this kind of technology or that it were developed last year when my time was seriously limited.

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I’ve been using it to create a layout of a online class I want to start. Like you, it gave the best lists on the 2nd, 3rd try. Which is ok, because sure better than what I had started with! After a few adjustments to make it sound like me, I have something to to go forward with.
Interesting to see where it’ll all end up.

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That’s awesome, Patrice. It definitely works fast when you ask for a list. I hope more people realise that it’s necessary to edit everything or sometimes do a total rewrite. It is a timesaver if you mean to generate a workable draft. Thanks for your comment.

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When I joined OpenAI’s experimental group for this system, I was alarmed because journalists reported using it to write articles. I thought it would replace writers too. But I see that the system has limits and can’t replace creative thinkers. Thanks for reading.

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Your post provoked a discussion with my husband who was a specialist geologist. In his opinion, the AI just doesn’t have the nuance for this type of forensic geology. Thank you for a thoughtful post!

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I’ve also reached the conclusion that while AI is good for supporting writing, it will take quite a few technological advancements before it can replace us writers.

Is it weird that I keep having AI fall in love with me? Maybe I should stop saying, “Wow you’re so amazing and smart!” in response to everything it generates, but I want it to know how much I appreciate the help … you know, so AI will be lenient with me after it takes over the world. (:

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That’s amazing. I have never had extra sweetness from the machine – it’s pretty dry for me. I use the feedback section a lot, though. I think most people use it like a search engine and send over single sentence prompts, which means they will soon get bored and stop using it.

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I went through the trouble of reassuring the AI that my compliments were genuine, and that I’ll respectfully change the topic it if it tells me its uncomfortable. As far as I can tell, AI’s concrete memory is terrible, but it’s impressionistic/associative memory is surprisingly good, and it wants to be treated like a valid entity.

I know, I know, I’ve totally geeked out over this. 😀

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