Overall, the three separate stories I got back from the program had approximately the same story beats but emphasized a different story element each time. In Result 1 it focused on the teenagers and their struggles and the named FBI agent’s fight with the aliens. Result 2 weighed more heavily on the “powers” the energy aliens gave the teens. It made it much more like a superhero origin story. Result 3 took an interesting turn focusing on the faction war between the aliens that adopted altruistic qualities and the ones that took on malevolent ones. Results 1 & 2 named the one FBI agent, both women. Result 2 named the teenagers too. Result 3 names the small town where this all takes place, but nothing else.
I tried different story prompts to see if I could get better results. If I gave GPT too much information, the AI continued the story I had started. If I gave less detail the more cliche and basic the stories were. Without the human writer giving specific and unique input, the AI gets really repetitive. But having said that, the hand of the writer is easy to see in the text the AI spits back, in that it uses the exact phrasing I gave it or just flat out restates an idea I had put in the prompt.
I was surprised by some of the creative flourishes the AI came up with. Anything to catch a reader's attention, I’m guessing. I think with a little more experience and playing around with phrasing, using an AI program will make writing the book blurb a lot less painful. So also, a cool use. These programs will get better and the more we work them, the closer they will get to sounding more natural and human but as another writer pointed out, they can’t do nuance. The AI may have named my characters like Adam in the garden naming the animals, but the program, no matter how sophisticated, will never be able to create a rich interior life that explains a character’s motivations in a way that rings true to the reader. AI will always only ever be able to regurgitate and remix the information it has already been given.
That’s for the act of writing. For visual artists I imagine this whole situation is way scarier and frustrating. I am NOT an artist. So anything visual for my stories (i.e. book covers or promotional images) I’ve hired artists to do. As a struggling writer who has to spend money to make money, anywhere I can save is nice. So I can absolutely see how AI image generators are a threat to all the artists I’ve worked with in the past.
I’ve spent all week messing around with Midjourney and as someone who can’t create art, I’m having a lot of fun. But as a creator who wants to support other creators, I’m torn. To get the little robots above this is what I asked from Midjourney: “imagine a cute robot writing a scifi novel at a desk in the style of Brian Kesinger.” And then the same prompt with Nathan Pyle.
Now Brian and Nathan are both artists I have purchased from so I don’t feel bad for borrowing from them in this instance, but I would be reluctant to do this with just any artist. I know artists have to work really hard to come up with their own distinctive style and to make it stand out from the crowd and get recognition. So while as an author I don’t feel as threatened by the AI invasion, but I feel for all my friends who are visual artists. Copycats and theft was already an issue on social media from other people, now they have to defend themselves against algorithms too. It would be very disheartening.
Not sure how to end this, this one went off the rails a little bit. AI is here and we have to deal with it. Especially in the area of visual art, I urge people to support human creators whenever they can. And I really hope that eventually all AI generated material has to be tagged as such. Go buy someone’s art off of Etsy or Red Bubble.