NVDT Writerly Thoughts – That AI Thing

ChatGPT. What’s all the noise about? I’ve been hearing about it indirectly as the better half is a comp and lit professor. Most of her students are literacy victims of no child left behind. The “fear” is that ChatGPT and other such programs will perform a wide variety of scholastic writing assignments, creating a dreadful and dire scenario of allowing the marginally literate to pass into the workplace unhindered by any absorbed education in written communication.

I got news for everybody. They hired the nurse who works for my urologist on her big smile. sing song voice and ability to fill out a size too small scrubs, not her ability to transcribe the Doc’s notes in anything resembling English, or any other language. Trust me, I’ve had to decipher them. And Chat GPT had nothing to do with it. I’m sure her aunt, her sister, her boyfriend or the untraceable resources on the dark web only students are aware of got her through a community college MedTech program that requires at least two semesters of C or better in English comp.

Enough of that. Curiosity and need sent me to ChatGPT. I knew how the ending of Murder in Sepia should go, but I wanted to see how AI would handle it.

Below are the two AI and my version, which I edited to the flow of AI. What I will give ChaptGPT that should be noted by all is that the AI engine writes logically and in a straight line. No elliptical redundanies in the body of text. No bad logic. Too many passive verbs, and I really dislike AI’s tie-it-up endings which reek of author leading. The last line of both generative examples are amateurishly redundant and/or leading. Things we already know, or the characters (should) have resolved between them, stuck instead to a character like an author’s “here’s what to get from this scene” post-it note. Otherwise? I borrowed the intro from #1, the mouse pad and the straight line.

Here’s my AI prompt – write a scene of a woman very angry about Barbie decorations in her office.

AI #1 – “What the hell is this?!” Maria stormed into her office, a pile of pink and purple streamers clutched in her hand. She slammed the door behind her and glared at her coworker, Rachel, who was standing in the corner with a sheepish expression on her face.
“I, um, I thought it would be a fun surprise,” Rachel stammered.
“A fun surprise? A fun surprise is a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates, not a goddamn Barbie-themed office!” Maria threw the streamers onto her desk, where they landed in a tangled heap.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you. I just thought it would be a fun way to brighten up the place,” Rachel said, trying to placate her irate boss.
“Brighten up the place? This is a professional office, not a kindergartner’s playroom! And what is this?” Maria gestured to a plastic Barbie doll that was propped up on her bookshelf.
“I, uh, I thought it would be cute,” Rachel said, her voice barely above a whisper.
“Cute? This is not cute, this is disrespectful and condescending. Do you think I’m some kind of child who needs to be entertained by childish decorations? I can’t believe you would think this is acceptable.” Maria was fuming, her cheeks red with anger.
“I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you. I’ll take everything down right away,” Rachel said, her eyes welling up with tears.
“You’d better. And if you ever pull a stunt like this again, you can find yourself another job,” Maria said, her voice dripping with fury.
Rachel nodded meekly and quickly set to work removing the offending decorations, while Maria sat down at her desk and tried to calm her racing thoughts. She couldn’t believe that someone would think it was okay to decorate her office like this, and she was determined to make it clear that she would not be disrespected in her own workplace.

Regenerate response

AI #2 – Samantha stormed into her office, fuming with anger. As she slammed the door shut behind her, she took in the sight that greeted her. Every inch of her office was adorned with pink and purple Barbie decorations. There were Barbie posters on the walls, Barbie figurines on the bookshelves, and even a Barbie-themed mousepad on her desk.
Samantha’s face turned red with rage as she stormed over to her desk and grabbed the mousepad, tossing it across the room in frustration. “Who the hell decided to turn my office into a Barbie wonderland?” she yelled, pacing back and forth.
She couldn’t believe that someone would have the audacity to decorate her space without her permission. It was her office, after all, and she should have the final say in how it was decorated.
Samantha was so angry that she could hardly think straight. She grabbed one of the Barbie posters off the wall and tore it down, crumpling it up into a ball and tossing it aside.
“This is ridiculous,” she muttered to herself, still pacing around the room. “I’m a professional, not a six-year-old girl. I refuse to work in an office that looks like this.”
Samantha made up her mind then and there to have a serious talk with her boss about this disrespectful and unprofessional behavior. She was determined to put an end to the Barbie madness once and for all.
*****ME – Friday, Late Afternoon
Bash made sure the parking lot door latched behind him, turned, took two steps, got body slammed into the wall by Candi storming out of her office. “You!” She shook a handful of pink and purple streamers in his face, her eyes on fire. “What the hell is this?!”
“Uh… dunno?” A shrug and mock serious appraisal. “Birthday leftovers?”
“Try again, genius.” Another shake of ribbons. “Well?!”
“‘Well?’ Well, hell, Candi. I just got here.”
“Just got here? It’s five-thirty, Bash. Where the hell have you been all day?”
“Uh… Court?”
“Bullshit.” She reached back, slammed her office door, glared him out.
“Okay, court,” he dodged the fist of ribbons, “and a complaint. Couple of early weekend drunks out on 337 plinkin’ mailboxes with a hand cannon.”
“Yeah? So where are they?”
“Last I saw? Cuffed to a concrete parkin’ lot barrier behind the Parlo cop shop.”
“Not your problem, not your business?”
“Just like these ribbons you need to get outta my face.”
“Useless,” she stomped off down the hall. “God damn useless.”
He leaned across the hall, opened her door to a full-on World of Barbie. Two-foot-tall pink Barbie ponytail silhouette logos on the walls, a Welcome Home Barbie banner stretched across the room, pink and purple streamers hung everywhere. A dozen Barbies in as many outfits strewn across the desk. Several perched on the computer monitor, the desk phone receiver hung from a surfboard between two more. Streetwalker Barbie in a short skirt leaned provocatively against the desk lamp, one in scuba gear stood inside the pencil cup while golf Barbie set up a for a putt on top of a Barbie waving from her Jeep mouse pad. He shook his head, laughed to himself, eased her door shut.
SHERIFF?” Candi’s voice echoed in the hall. “You can’t hide, Harden.” She threatened the empty hallway with the clutch of ribbons, opening the few doors that lined the walls. “I know this was you. CHIEF!? Goddammit, where the hell are you?”
“Candi?” Betty stuck her head out of the foyer. “What’s the matter, girl? All ribbons and no kiss goodnight?”
“Betty?” Candi stopped, let the clutch of ribbons drop to her side before offering them for view. “Kiss goodnight my ass. I tell a story on myself, and suddenly, BAM, I’m a fucking laughingstock.”
“I, um… I’m not sure I follow…”
“I stole a Jeep, Betty. A long time ago. Unfortunately, it was a custom-built, one-off Barbie Jeep.”
“That’s, um… News. To me.” Betty’s chin kicked out sideways, her eyebrows crawled together.
“I didn’t take it because it was a fucking Barbie Jeep. I took it as collateral. And now,” she shot frustrated looks around, “Now,” she held her finger and thumb together, “I let a teeny, tiny bit of myself out and what do I get? HA, HA, Candi’s got a Barbie fetish.”
“Um, you know, AC, you might be readin’ a tad too much into the uh… Barbie stuff. In fifteen years, I’ve never known the Sheriff to be, well, mean, so I’m pretty sure he, if all this,” she flipped the ribbons with her hand, “is his doin’, he must’ve reckoned it would be a fun surprise.”
“A fun surprise? Fun? A fun surprise is a nice bottle of wine or a box of Swiss chocolate, not a goddamn Barbie World office!” Candi threw the streamers into the Sheriff’s empty office, where they landed in a tangled heap on his desk.
“Anything you want me to tell the Sheriff if I see him?”
“Betty, I wouldn’t put those words in your mouth. Just tell him… You know what? Don’t tell him shit.” She wheeled around, saying over her shoulder as she went, “Let him think he got away with his embarrassing little shit show.”
She hit a solid, purposeful stride to the next-to-last door, threw it open. “Bash? You never saw me today. Don’t say a fucking word to—”
“Me?” Harden rubbed his nose while extricating himself from behind the door. “Sorry, Cotton. I didn’t mean to piss you off. I thought you’d appreciate some more redecoratin’ around here.”
“Re decorating?! I try to bring a hint of professionalism to this office, and what do I get? A fucking third grader’s bedroom! And this!” She pointed to a life-size inflatable Barbie doll in a Team USA tank top and American flag bikini bottoms leaning drunkenly against Bash’s guest chair. “What the hell is this?”
“I kinda figured we could put it out front by Betty. You know, like a mascot.”
“Mascot?! MASCOT?!” Her cheeks flushed, “This… THING, is the most disrespectful, condescending piece of man world bullshit since—”
“Gettin’ screwed outta bein’ paid for T n A disguised as professional beach volleyball?”
“Yeah,” she fumed. “Since that.” She stomped out, slammed the door. Harden yanked it open.
“Look, Cotton,” the Sheriff, hands wide, open
“Don’t try to apologize,” she kept her back to them, held up a double handed one-finger salute, “Fuck both y’all.”
“Hey, I was just ribbin’ ya, you know? Like a welcome home surprise. I’ll take it down as soon as—”
“The hell you will.” She spun around. “GOTCHA!” She hit them with a wide, toothpaste commercial quality smile neither had seen before, honk-snort laughed, threw her arms around the Sheriff’s neck. “It’s nice to be home. It’s nicer to have someone take time to do the nicest thing anybody’s done for me in forever.” She reached one arm out to Bash, pulled him in behind the Sheriff and into an awkward group hug. “This is one of those times winning does look like it oughta. Thank you,” Betty stuck her head in the room, got a wagging fingers wave. “All of you.”
Harden, still flushed from the sheriff sandwich hug, followed her out the parking lot door, Bash on his heels. She broke into an easy jog, turned, jogged backward, called out, “Last one to Earl’s gets the check.”
“So,” Bash put on his sunglasses. “Looks like you’re buyin’ barbecue.”
“You’re still a little short in the britches around here to know all the shortcuts, Cochise. But,” nonchalant, “if I happen to be the last one there,” Harden held his sunglasses out, checked them with a squint. “I’ll make a point a writing both your asses up for speedin’.”

Bottom line? I think if a writer is struggling with a scene’s flow, or is stuck on behaviors or actions, this is a great tool. I also think there is much to be learned from a bare bones structural presentation. And, not to put too fine a point on it, I’ve opened books written on the same level, with the same “bad” habits and less dynamic range. And if you use this technology to get past a roadblock and take the time see it as a suggestion, knead it into your own voice it’s free education, not a substitute. Any agrees or disagrees, get after it.

The graphic is also AI from Dall-e


Published by

Phil Huston


13 thoughts on “NVDT Writerly Thoughts – That AI Thing”

  1. I think I’d get stuck in the rabbit hole you touched on earlier – asking what happened next. Especially in that second example. *How* was she going to put an end to it once and for all? I think the endgame would be getting AI to admit you can’t fix human nature or that its solution involved a flame thrower.
    For my part? I’ll just stick to wrapping everything in tin foil.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I think wearing the stainless steel colander and listening to the voices is a better source. Because all I had to do last time was say, Whoa, dude kills his noodling buddy in fear of being Bigfoot Bait! And there they were. I doubt the Bot would have come up with Apache, Sheriff, Olympic Volleyball Bitch and all the rest. The trouble is, as I see it, is to get a whole story you’d need to feed it a whole story.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can actually see many ‘lazy’ students being happy to rely on this to complete assignments. It was surprisingly better than I had expected it to be, and provided a good basic level of fiction. It goes without saying that your original had the ‘human touch’.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re standing atop Kill Devil Hill in 1904. Below you, you watch a strange beige colored kite, massive in size, careen down the grassy landscape, lift gently, fly a mile and settle back to Earth.
    “Welp, if that’s the pinnacle of air travel, you won’t see me booking a flight to Raleigh.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s why the robot eating the library. It’s only gotten started. Allow it to feed itself the history of literature and ask it to write the book of our next great religion.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. It’s great for plots. The best one was asking for a harmonious coexistent plot line with x, x, and x elements and it went way off the deep end. None of it was usable except on a simple formulaic level, but you could write volumes of bunk off of them. The best thing is it isn’t afraid to swear or set up a shootout or trip over a dead body in a deserted small town. Ask it what happened to the town. Fascinating.

          Liked by 3 people

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