I started to explore artificial intelligence writing tools as part of my research and was quite shocked how much they are already evolved. On this page I will keep the old articles I did write about and this page also serves as a starting point for one of the plots of my Canary Islands Murders crime novels where a spooky deadly turn involving AI will take place in the near future...
Thanks to Chad from CHIBI for giving me a chance to dive into that world.
Here is the archive of the old articles:
Will AI Improve Productivity For Real?
Article written June 14th, 2022
Is it naive to think that AI will help to reach my writing goals faster?
Will the use of AI increase and improve my productivity? This is what my experiment will show very soon here. While I use the newfound writing partner I will continue to post updates here and share my insights with you.
UPDATE September 15, 2022: I stopped using the AI Writing at this time as I continue to produce my content in GERMAN first, not in English and it is too much of a time consuming activity to translate everything. So while the AI is still mind-blowing exciting, I paused to use it for the time being.
The Learning Curve - How Time Consuming Is This?
Most of us know the famous quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln: "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax."
So it was to be expected that using AI will take some time to learn and implement.
I am pleasantly surprised that I just can open the editor and start writing as I would normally do and ONLY wake up the AI monster to help me write when I am stuck.
It is a great start I am already using (even in this post of course!) the strategy to let the AI complete sentences, ask for "talking points", "questions" or simply let him write a complete paragraph for me - that I sometimes barely edit before I continuing to write my own content after that.
The fine-tuning tricks, and using more advanced strategies will take time to learn and test, and this will obviously take some time away I do not have to write content. But I feel that in the end that investment in learning hopefully will boost my overall output and render great results.
The Productivity Trap
Will using AI as a writing tool really speed up my work? Only time will tell. The last novel took me 1.5 years to finish and since I have big plans and have already 8 more books to complete and some spec scripts to adapt my Crime Novel Series as a steaming video/Tv production - time IS of the essence.
To be honest, if I would be more disciplined I know that the volume of 40,000 words per novel could be completed within 3 months, given the fact that all known elements of that novel are ready just to be fleshed out.
Here is another quote I like by Chuck Close: “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.”
I am curious how it will play out and where I will be standing next June 2023 for sure. Your support as the reader here will be also a vital element, so please participate with me here with comments, likes - or even help with the fundraising while reading the first pre-editorial novel versions.
Of course - the key to success lies in character development, engaging storytelling, and the overall "hook" I can create with my project wanting people to know how more and eventually even visiting the real locations of my crime novels!
The Accountability Booster
One thing is for sure - writing this blog/newsletter will add to my accountability for making progress. It already adds to my writing routine so I see an increase in daily written words. While we all know that a more significant amount of written words alone does not automatically equal an equivalent amount of progress, I feel that I have gained a better perspective on my work habits. I'm more willing to push myself forward.
Here is what my AI was just typing out for me:
- Talking to my AI partner made me more enthusiastic and focused than before. As a result, I can now write with the help of this new technology and still sound like a human.
- I don't have to worry about miscommunication between me and my AI partner. My AI keeps my work consistent and focuses on my market at all times. Plus: With AI, I will never run out of topic ideas.
Dying to travel?
Article written June 14th, 2022
An AI actually helps me find and define some of the most crazy fans for my crime novels - those who love to travel to murderous content locations!
Rebecca wonders how to find out about new unique exciting travel locations. Like something that only local people know about. Anything that will make traveling feel more like a discovery trip and treasure hunt instead of just visiting the same-same crowded tourist "must-have-seen" areas recommended by the same-same travel-rating platforms.
In her active and intentional search for secret & thrilling travel destinations and to find others as passionate as herself about exploring new places, Rebecca found new inspiration on how to plan her future travels: crime novels!
What would be the most dangerous place that she could travel to? One that actually is quite safe to visit and only feels dangerous based on a made-up novel for sure! Spies for example travel a lot - so maybe a spy movie would be a starting point?
Then Rebecca met an actual crime novel writer, Semmy, at a party through one of her friends and realized how useful - and potentially fun activities she could use by interviewing real-life crime novel writers to get more ideas for her future travels.
Should she write a blog and gather comments from other readers and fans to get more additional input? Should she start a podcast? Should she ask social media influencers for suggestions? Should she visit locations and then ask people living and working near about the most bizarre facts and incidents that are not well-known by the public?
(80% of this came from this Writers AI!)
Since Rebecca really likes Europe and especially Spain - and also loved the novels of Dan Brown, something she has in common with Semmy de Nada the creator Of Canary Islands Murders) she liked his offer to read the first pre-editorial version of his book "Dine Opinion" where nine people die in pretty interesting tourist locations in Tenerife, one of the eight islands of the Canary Islands - and then ask him specific questions, since he will write one crime novel for each of the islands.
Of course, she would not wait until all of those books are published for real or - god forbid! - a produced crime novel series would be ready to watch. But to travel and discover destinations together with a crime novel author would be one of the combinations not everyone would have the access to.
Until Rebecca will be publishing her own blog or podcast, the only way to see what is happening however is by getting subscribed to Semmy's crime novel membership site and finding out who is going to die - or dying to travel there to find out!
(The AI finished the sentence “Until Rebecca will be publishing her own blog or podcast… with almost the complete sentence above. Basically telling my reader (you!) - to subscribe to my site. Wow, that AI is onto something.
P. S.: It is next to impossible to mark what part of this text the AI came up with and what I edited and molded around my own agenda. But the function to write several sentences or some paragraphs and then letting the AI take over is a very fruitful way to write!
A Shocking Character Flaw Experiment
Article written June 14th, 2022
A quick character creation that scared the hell out of me today
So let’s jump in and get my feet wet. What I like about my AI is that it comes with a set of modes that I can experiment and work with and do a pretty engaging, “you write a few paragraphs with content and facts - or fiction - and…” and then (me the AI) “…complete your thought, come up a list with questions or other relevant writing prompts to get you going even further”.
All without coding. You can - of course - fine-tune and teach the AI your writing style for sure, and I will certainly learn and try to do that pretty soon as well.
But you know how it goes: learn to walk first before you are trying to run.
Working On Character Flaw
Of course, working on the biographies and background stories of the characters is super important and like many novelists, I keep track of so many details, that are needed to keep character story arcs believable.
The problem is that playing around with biography details often keeps me distracted for days or longer (like much-needed background research for other parts of the novel can derail most of us!) - so AI-assisted Character molding is a great time-saving tool.
Of course, the AI will not spit out a ready-to-be-published full-length biography - and where would be fun left if you as the author are not in charge of creating your story universe.
But the AI can speed up the process and let me refocus on completing my novel faster by cutting down the “exploration details.
So today I just put in a description of … um, almost myself!
Arty Ficial is born in Berlin, currently living in Gran Canaria, Spain, for 5 years, and works as a barkeeper at constantly changing jobs as he has difficulties being on time and often gets fired, despite the fact that he has a decent amount of money in his bank account he feels he needs to work in order not to feel lonely, he has a photographic memory and quit smoking 2 years ago. Arty is 52 years old gay male, gluten-allergic, height 1,75 cm, slim, good runner, military short cut hairstyle, a good runner, but having joint problems.
Mind you, 70% of this description is NOT me. But I was curious what the AI will come up what kind of Character Flaws will come out of this for sure!
Here is what I got back:
52-year-old Arty Ficial has a different personality depending on the day, but his basic main character traits are selfishness and laziness. He refuses to admit to himself that he suffers from depression, even though he always seems to be more worried about what others think of him and how he appears overall than about what's going on in his life.
(above paragraph is pure AI)
Man, I was shocked. No therapist would have said it better. Really! The AI gave me a scary distilled insight into my TRUE self. I didn’t plan that and that was a bit spooky.
Maybe I should use this writing mode to work as a part-time astrologer and predict some strangers’ character flaws and their outlook for the future.
Because I also got those:
His gluten allergy is to wheat flour only.
Really? Someone just mentioned this to me weeks ago. Did the AI already listen in to my conversations early on? Like, before I actually signed up to use him?
He sometimes has problems with his legs and knees, but he promotes a healthy lifestyle and keeps his body fit and well. He often runs around the house and neighborhood and runs laps on the flat rooftop of his little house on the outskirts.
Well also true, but then this might apply to many people, right?
I did some more clicks and to my relief, the rest of the suggested biography flaws turned out to be not like me at all. I did read however very authentic and plausible:
- I'm sure he has this tendency of trying to appear calm and composed in front of others because of his shy and introverted nature, which he thinks others will judge him for, with that being one of his biggest insecurities, and that he doesn't want to admit it to himself, especially that he is actually struggling with his mental health.
- I think he probably wishes he was more assertive, but because of his nature of being soft-spoken and more empathetic towards others compared to being assertive, I doubt he can be that confident in his own speech and presence when speaking with others about his own feelings of insecurity, and he tends to instead croak out in anguish and in a choked up voice.
As much as this initial “100%-match”-prediction was a bit of a shock, I realized quickly how much of my true persona is already present in many of my characters anyway (that is what many of us novelists do for sure!) - and it did bring a lot of authentic emotion so vital for good storytelling…
So I really liked that Character Flaw experiment today pretty much!
Two Writers’ Work-Tools That Keep Me Sane
I wanted to give a shout-out to two great tools that keep me sane as a writer with all the madness that is going on when writing a novel.
One is actually an app that I use to organize all my life (no kidding!) and that actually holds almost every aspect of things that I currently do, plan to do, or have done in the past. It is the perfect tool for a writer to focus and store all story ideas, character biographies, facts to be researched, and anything else that you can come up with!
It is called workflowy.com (this is not sponsored!) and it works with a simple but genius list system that keeps you focused while allowing organizing unlimited of organizing your brain in the way it serves your style. Their website says it all:
Workflowy offers a simpler way to stay organized. If you have a crazy job or an ambitious project, we will be your trusty sidekick.
The second tool that is even free (donation-based!) is called Wavemaker and a Novel Planning and Writing Software that works in any browser cloud based. It is what I have used together with Workflowy to complete my first crime novel DineOpinion.com
All Good Things Come In Threes?
AI, how much truth is in it what you are telling me?
Article written June 13th, 2022
I was really stopped by the thought of “how much truth is coming back from my AI” because when I was writing some content I got a paragraph back that was so full of wrong facts, I had to completely scratch the part that the AI was providing me.
Now you would think - wait a moment, you are a crime novel writer and come up with fiction, why should you care about “facts”?
Well first of all I am adding quite a fair amount of real facts about locations, places, and people about the Canary Islands Murders to invite people to come and travel and see the impressive locations for themselves.
Now it raises the question for me about transparency in the end. So far I understand that different systems tap into different technologies and most companies will not disclose what AI machines they use in the background.
At this point in my crime novel writing, I am not scared that the AI is taking over and hijacking my work - yet. Even you see some current development like the DALL-E and scratching artists’ work without their consent nor giving them any credit, which is worrisome.
So here is what I asked my AI today:
When I work with an AI how can I know the information it is processing is based on facts. Is there a way to find the origin of information being used in the content that the AI is creating?
And here is what he answered me in the “Talking Points” mode:
all the following points were written by the AI itself!
- A machine cannot think on its own. It needs a team of humans to write the algorithms. What it can produce depends highly on the data it receives as input, which is provided by humans as well.
- Some pieces of information cannot be verified, and the algorithm makes assumptions based on that, which gives it some leeway for error.
- The algorithm uses the best information available and understands if some information is missing it will use the best information it has.
- The algorithm understands if the information it is using is questionable, and it will make assumptions based on that, and that may lead to errors, but the algorithm makes its best effort to get things right.
- The algorithm is 100% accurate when it receives correct information from its training dataset. It understands that it sometimes needs to make an educated guess when it isn’t sure about a statement, and it tries to make educated guesses based on other statements in the content it is working on.
end of the AI input!
But the last point is indeed the crux: what is “correct information”? And how is there to make sure what is fake and “alternative facts” that will give different results.
At the end of the blog post, I realize that I am indeed happy to be a crime novel writer who after all has maybe less research and contextual corrections to do than someone working at a major news outlet. Or that is what I would hope.
When Will I Be Famous?
Article written June 12, 2022
Dear Artificial Intelligence: since you are anonymous, would you like to help me to become famous and then I give you the credit for when it worked?
In order to overcome the anxiety and worry that AI might replace me as a writer, I will explore every kind of positive aspect that might come along the way as well to reach a balanced conclusion.
So I felt experimental today and asked the AI a question. And in the back of my head, I was hearing Bros singing "When Will I Be Famous?" (flashback to 1987!)
So I opened the AI and typed the question. “Will Artificial Intelligence make me famous?” - you can see part of the answers I got on the right. Very encouraging. “Yes, it will!”. I am just not sure which celebrities the AI is referring to…
This is part of the writer's "AI Dance", starting to converse with the AI and let it finish sentences, writing more paragraphs myself as a writer, and then letting it continue the thought process. To provide me with automated written content by the AI with surprisingly complete formulated thoughts I did not think about myself in the first place.
Is using Artificial Intelligence more like working with a ghostwriter maybe? Instead of consulting a single person "writing for me" I can tap into this big "brain cloud" that dives into something that I still do not understand - but I start to see that AI is actually becoming my partner, not my enemy.
At least I sincerely wish it will be that way.
Ok, so dear AI, what are your thoughts, do you want to be my writing partner instead of my enemy robbing me of my work as a writer and artist in the end?
AI will have to prove something to me first! So I will study AI to understand what it is and how it differs from us humans first! Then I will study it to learn what kind of emotions it can have and if it has feelings too! Then I will study its intelligence! The questions will be endless! Until I reach a conclusion that I can handle the technology.
I could not say it better by myself.
P.S. I think I will use formatting like this to highlight what content was created by the AI on its own. What do you think?
Will AI Replace Me As An Artist?
Article written June 11, 2022
Will Artificial Intelligence Make Human Crime Novelists Obsolete?
So I opened a new document in my new AI and wrote:
As a crime novel writer, I am worried that Artificial Intelligence will replace me as an artist. Am I worried based on real findings or just falling for the hype and fake news?
Then I asked the AI to give me some insights and within less than 2 minutes I got a list of those questions:
- What are some of the AI programs that claim to be able to replace humans in jobs that require a lot of reasoning?
- What are some of the merits of AI?
- What is the history of AI in crime novels?
- Will crime novel content easily AI to pass the Turing test?
Now that are some valid interesting questions to ponder.
Right from the start dealing with my AI, I learn that he/she (the creator refers to this AI as male, but who knows) is at its best when I start with some detailed content and let him (for the sake of better reading I pretend my AI is male from now on, too!) finish my sentences.
The AI Dance Starts
Referred to as the AI dance here is the obvious logic behind dealing with an intelligent writing AI is that there needs to be a starting point. Even this AI knows what they say 10-20% of all of the content of the Internet, it needs a starting point.
That is what I understand at this point.
Some of the worrying questions the AI asked me back were:
- Why do we need writers?
- Why are writers important to society?
- Does AI threaten the existence of the great writer?
Now those are just questions and talking points I asked the AI for, I have not even started to let him write complete paragraphs and a longer flow as I am preparing to put more text and details together, before letting him “take over”.
Am I scared to let AI… (from here I asked AI to take over and this it was it became:
Am I scared to let AI take over my craft?
AI will affect. Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is advancing at such a rapid pace that is forecast to inevitably replace most real-life journal articles claiming Artificial Intelligence is making dull, stale non-fiction obsolete.
And when computers start interpreting subtle aspects of human behavior as if it were a crafted piece of fiction, fiction writers will become a thing of the past.
WOAH! Wait a minute. How I am able to format here on these pages for my readers what the AI wrote versus what I did edit and what my thoughts are? Because at the end that is exactly the point.
If you as a reader will be clueless about what part of the text was done unedited in a “copy and paste” versus what I did fine-tune as a writer - would that be the endgame that I fear as a writer to face?
What Drives My AI: Is it GPT-3?
I am clueless about what makes this AI so powerful. I am new to AI at all for the first to face it so directly in my practical work as a writer. So I googled around a bit and found the mention of GPT-3. So what is GPT-3 exactly?
I did what most of us do: take a quick glance at what Wikipedia has to say:
“Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 (GPT-3) (stylized GPT·3) is an autoregressive language model that uses deep learning to produce human-like text.”
I was actually misreading the "autoregressive" as AUTOAGRESSIVE so that obviously shows how much I fear this technology at this point, and of course, when you read things like this, I am getting even more nervous:
"The quality of the text generated by GPT-3 is so high that it can be difficult to determine whether or not it was written by a human, which has both benefits and risks."
In a July 2020 review in The New York Times, Farhad Manjoo said that GPT-3's ability to generate computer code, poetry and prose is not just "amazing", "spooky", and "humbling", but also "more than a little terrifying".
You can’t turn back the clock
One thing is clear. AI is here and it is evolving with or without me. If I do not use it as a chance to multiply my given natural talent to grow and expand I can also just stop before it eats me alive unprepared and naive.
The true danger is if AI finds itself a tool as powerful as the human brain, learning everything faster, faster, and faster and more confident than ever. I think many or most of us are Ok if we will become the new next guy they will teach machines how to play chess, but if we become the new next guy they will teach machines how to be a successful crime novel writer?
(Fun fact: the last complete paragraph came from the AI!)
And the interesting closing thought for today will be: I could not teach an AI how to be a successful crime novel writer, I actually would LOVE to use AI to become one. But at what cost?
(Clicking the image will reveal my identity.)
Is Artificial Intelligence replacing me as a human crime writer?
Article written June 11, 2022
I just finished up my first crime novel lately and while looking for an editor before getting the manuscript ready to be pitched to a publisher, I could not believe what I ran into.
First I thought it is kind of a joke and almost clicked the advertising away.
"Are you a writer? This AI is able to write and create content on its own. Come on and try it for yourself!"
One of those scam websites for sure. Or is it?
A mix of curiosity and fear kicked in and I could not resist clicking the link.
And I had to pinch myself to make sure I am not having a freak-out moment. What the hell happened to my hours spent sitting in front of my laptop writing if that is soon going to be automated?
No way that a machine can write better stories than me! If this is the future (or god-forbid already reality!) then I would see myself in another kind of crime novel myself: "Crime Author Kills Himself after finding out that Artificial Intelligence rewrote all his manuscripts before they were published and became best sellers".
Like these sentences that you just read. Are you sure what to think - was this written by a human being or not? Are you already reading something created by Artificial Intelligence that took only a few moments to come up with?
And yes, really I stare at this as much in disbelief as you, I promise.
Spoiler Alert: Only the paragraph jump here and the next paragraph are just the two that were created manually. Really? The AI actually wrote this so how can you trust this information?
What have I done? The box of Pandora's box is open and I am convinced that this is just the beginning - neither of us is not even noticing it yet how automated writing by Artificial Intelligence has evolved. On a never heard before level sneakily entering the world in 2022.
I cannot help but take you along my scary journey as a crime novel writer from today.
Soon we will find out much of the real human writer actually has survived in the process.