“Stories can both be cautionary tales as well as directions on where we could go as humanity.”
In this episode of How To Write The Future, titled “ChatGPT and Creating Fiction" Beth Barany, creativity coach, and science fiction and fantasy novelist, talks about one of the latest AI tools to grab the public imagination, Chat GPT, and discusses some ways you can use it for your story development, plus shares live examples in using the software.
OpenAI underpaid 200 Kenyans to perfect ChatGPT—then sacked them
ABOUT THE HOW TO WRITE THE FUTURE PODCAST
The How To Write The Future podcast is for science fiction and fantasy writers who want to write positive futures and successfully bring those stories out into the marketplace. Hosted by Beth Barany, science fiction novelist and creativity coach for writers.
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ABOUT BETH BARANY
Beth Barany teaches science fiction and fantasy novelists how to write, edit, and publish their books as a coach, teacher, consultant, and developmental editor. She’s an award-winning fantasy and science fiction novelist and runs the podcast, “How To Write The Future.”
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Episode 29 - Use ChatGPT for Your Fiction
Hi everyone. Beth Barany here. I am your host for How to Write The Future Podcast.
I teach science fiction and fantasy novelists how to write, edit, and publish their books as a coach, teacher, consultant, and developmental editor. I'm an award-winning fantasy and science fiction novelist. And of course, a podcaster.
Welcome. I offer tips for fiction writers on how they can write positive and optimistic stories, because fiction, fiction is so powerful, we could change the world with our fiction, stories influence us. We learn from stories.
Stories can both be cautionary tales as well as directions on where we could go as humanity.
I also talk about the latest tools of technology and that's what I'm gonna talk about today.
Let's get on with the show.
Today I'm gonna talk about Chat G P T.
All right, let's get in.
For those of you who do not know, chat G P T is actually chat.openai.com It's essentially an AI tool. You can ask it complete questions and get rather clear answers. Now there's a bunch of limitations. This is programmed by people, and some of the limitations are: May occasionally generate incorrect information, may occasionally produce harmful instructions or biased content, limited knowledge of world and events after 2021.
It's a very smart tool that people programmed, so it has limitations. There's some pretty amazing things that lots and lots and lots and lots of people have been experimenting with, and today I wanted to talk about its use in writing, specifically fiction.
I have experimented with it in non-fiction and it's been rather useful in helping me create outlines for articles and just like basic vanilla language that has no personality.
And in my experimentation with fiction, so far it has done the same. And I've used it to do some brainstorming and get ideas, including having it rewrite story blurbs. So we'll get to that in a moment. Some of the cool things right now about this tool that is free, currently, and it can remember what the user said earlier in conversation.
That's awesome. It can allow the user to provide follow-up corrections. That is really fun and it is trained to decline inappropriate requests. I purposely have not tested the limits. I know some people have, and you can go research them and see what they've done if you want. And here's some fun ideas and some fun examples.
So a lot of people have been using this tool for programming, totally not my domain.
I have been using it for story idea generation, and I would say the biggest learning curve with this tool is learning what questions to ask.
So I have been brainstorming with another writer friend, and we have been trading prompts back and forth. So one of the prompts, that I'm gonna do, just totally cold, with you all here today to show you, to start to show you some of the ways you can use this tool. I'm using for story prompts. I'm gonna use one of my very, very, favorite tools called the Mythulu cards. And I have Starter Pack A and Starter Pack B that just came out. So essentially this deck is designed for people to help them come up with new story ideas. So what better brainstorming session than to use both the Mythulu cards and ChatGPT. Both are here to help us come up with new ideas.
So I'm just gonna pull a few cards and then I'm gonna use them to create a prompt. These cards are images with some words on them. Okay. So I'm gonna type in some words and then I'm gonna put 'em together. And this is really off the cuff.
I'm not even going to make sense of it in the first instance. I'm gonna go ahead and so this was three different cards that I chose. One was Floating, the other was Fuzzy, and the third was Man and Maker.
So my very favorite story prompt is What If.
What if there was a Floating Fuzzy man who made objects, made objects in space?
This is actually one of my preoccupations as a science fiction writer, is the manufacturing of things in space. and now here's where you tell ChatGPT what to do with this information.
Write a story summary, and let's give it some more parameters. Write a story summary set in, I'm gonna use my story timing, which is 2130 above, in orbit around planet Earth, and do not involve aliens. Cause my stories do not involve aliens. Okay. All right. So you go ahead and hit return and let's see what it comes up with.
I would say that I am using ChatGPT so far for story summaries, like this. So it's gonna populate on the screen and then I will read it to you all, and I'm gonna start playing with it a little bit to show you some of the ways you can add to what they give you.
Right, so we have. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5- 5 paragraphs.
And I'm gonna read this aloud very first time, it will save our, our search here on the left. In the left-hand column.
In 2130, a strange phenomenon began to occur in orbit around earth. A floating fuzzy man appeared out of nowhere and began to create objects out of thin air.
At first, the International Space Station sent a team of astronauts to investigate, but they were unable to approach the man as he seemed to be surrounded by an impenetrable force field.
As time passed, the man's creations became more and more elaborate. He constructed entire cities and even created a network of satellites that provided internet and cell phone service to the entire planet.
The people of Earth were amazed and grateful for the man's gifts, and they began to call him the creator. Despite the creator's benevolent actions, there were some who feared him. They believed that he had the power to destroy the planet and that his true intentions were not as benevolent as they seemed.
As the years passed, the Creator continued to create and give to the people of Earth. He built hospitals, schools, and even created a new form of clean energy that eliminated the need for fossil fuels. He became a beloved figure known for his generosity and kindness. But one day the creator suddenly disappeared.
No one knows where he went or why, but his creations remained a testament to his incredible power and generosity. And though some still fear him, the people of Earth will always remember the floating fuzzy man who brought them so much good.
Now, would I ever write this story? Actually, no. I don't even think this story is that interesting, but was what was interesting was what it created.
What I can do is ask it to amend it so I can say: Give me another version shorter and based in today's science and just see what happens.
And then you just hit return and it's going to generate something else. Yeah.
Okay, and here we go.
A scientist creates a machine that can manipulate matter at the atomic level, allowing him to create objects out of thin air. Dubbed the Creator, the machine quickly becomes a revolutionary technology revolutionizing manufacturing, construction, and waste management. The scientist company becomes a leading player in the technology world, but with the power to create anything from nothing, there are questions about the potential consequences and ethics of such a device.
The scientists must navigate the challenges that come with this powerful invention.
I find that a more interesting premise and actually something I might be able to use. How about that?
So now let's talk about character. So we're gonna ask it to give us a character sketch.
We're gonna ask it to create an emotional character arc for the woman scientist behind this machine who must deal with inner and outer challenges.
This is the kind of prompt that I would actually give myself. I would ask myself to create such an emotional arc, and the prompt is very vague on purpose.
I wanna see what it generates, cuz I wanna show you, we can ask it to do multiple versions if we don't like this.
All right. Here we go.
The woman's scientist, Dr. Emma, is driven by her passion for innovation and her desire to make a positive impact on the world. She spends years researching and developing the Creator, pouring her heart and soul into the project. When it's finally completed, she feels a sense of pride and accomplishment that she's never felt before.
However, as the Creator becomes more successful, Dr. Emma starts to struggle with the weight of her responsibility. She begins to question the ethics of having such a powerful technology and starts to feel a sense of guilt for any potential negative consequences that may arise. She starts to doubt herself and her motivations and her self-confidence starts to waiver.
As the company in the public's pressure mounts, Dr. Emma is forced to confront the consequences of her actions head on. She must navigate through the complex ethical and social implications of her invention, while also dealing with the pressure from her colleagues and competitors. As she continues to work on improving the Creator, she starts to realize that her invention can be a force for good, but only if it's used responsibly.
Through her struggles. Dr. Emma learns to balance her desire for innovation with her sense of responsibility to the world. She becomes a leader in the field, pushing for regulations and guidelines to ensure the safe and ethical use of the Creator. She finds a new sense of purpose and fulfillment, and ultimately, her emotional character arc shows her growth from a brilliant inventor to a responsible leader.
I find that last sentence very useful and interesting to think about how is she maybe irresponsible at the beginning of the story. So what's not in here is like what forces her to feel the weight of her responsibility? I mean, we have the vague statement of the creator becoming more successful, so we could ask it to be more specific.
We could also ask it too: Restate the character arc to include humor, a best friend, and a beloved. What shall we do? Should we make it a cat? Cat?
Let's see what happens.
All right, I'm gonna read this example, and then I'm going to talk about some of the limitations that to me are very apparent in the examples that, I had this tool create today.
So I had it restate the character arc to include humor, a best friend, and a beloved cat. I do like that this tool remembers what you gave it so you can build on it.
Dr. Emma, a brilliant but quirky scientist, is on a mission to change the world with her invention, the Creator, a machine that can manipulate matter at the atomic level. She works tirelessly in her lab with her trustee best friend and lab assistant Jack and her beloved cat, Mr. Whiskers by her side. Jack provides comic relief and moral support while Whiskers is a constant reminder of the joys in life and helps Emma to relax.
Despite the many setbacks and failed experiments, Emma is determined to make the Creator a success, and when it finally comes to fruition, she experiences a moment of pure joy and triumph. But as the Creator starts to become more popular, Emma starts to feel the pressure of her newfound fame and the weight of responsibility for her invention.
With Jack's help, Emma navigates the complex ethical and social implications of her invention while also dealing with the pressure from her colleagues and competitors. Jack's humor and Emma's beloved cat, Mr. Whiskers, helps her to keep things in perspective. Through her struggles, Emma learns to balance her desire for innovation with her sense of responsibility to the world.
She becomes a leader in the field, pushing for regulations and guidelines to ensure the safe and ethical use of the Creator. With Jack and Mr. Whiskers by her side. Emma's emotional arc shows her growth from a brilliant inventor to a responsible leader, all while keeping her sense of humor and love for the little things in life.
So, I don't know if you noticed, but this is very general. Obviously, it's a summary and something I've noticed in my work playing with with this tool ChatGPT, is that the language is plain and generic and it lacks personality. It lacks voice.
So I know some people are already, some college students, probably some high school students are, are using this tool to write essays.
And some people are saying that it passes muster, but it lacks personality and it lacks, I don't know. It just feels bland to me.
So I would say have fun playing with ChatGPT. Push the limits. Play with different prompts. I'll probably come back with another episode at some point, illustrating some more fiction writing prompts.
I would love to hear about your experience with this tool or any of the other AI writing tools out there. Do you like? Is it helping you? In what way?
For me, the biggest help it has been is just opening up, my ideas, possibilities. And then from there I basically have to do what I always do, just write my own words and edit my own words.
All right, everyone, thank you so much for showing up with me today.
Write long and prosper.
Write long and prosper.
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