Like many of you, I’ve heard a lot about the new text and art-generating AIs. I was recently listening to The Creative Penn podcast by Joanna Penn. She’s been excited and talking about AIs for quite some time now.

I’ve listened to her and others talk about how they use ChatGPT. None of it made any sense to me.

Using it as a super-powered thesaurus? Uhmm, okay. But that seems like a lot of horsepower for a little return.

Using it to help a writer brainstorm ideas? Sure. That isn’t part of my process, though.

Using it to help when stuck with a plot point? Maybe, okay, I could see doing that. However, again, that isn’t ever going to be part of my process.

Coming up with new things and new ideas is the FUN part of the process for me. Reaching for external help of any kind is taking away my candy.

Generating titles based on keywords? I tried that and had seriously uninspiring results. It might be okay for a regular title. However, it’s horrible for anything that has wordplay in it, like a cozy mystery title.

Generating ideas for a short story? Tried that as well. The results were the lowest-hanging fruit possible. Nothing worth mentioning here.

Finally, I heard Joanna mention that she was using the AI to generate ad copy for her.

Huh. That’s actually interesting. What did she mean by that?

I did some cursory searches but didn’t find any examples.

So I decided to go and try some things for myself, to see what I could develop.

I started off by asking ChatGPT to proofread a blurb for me.

That returned some promising results. It found a couple of errors, things that I would change.

Then I asked it to “punch up” a blurb, and make it more active.

Here’s the original blurb:

No longer a Seattle cop, Halley Brown formed her own private investigator agency. Her latest client, the fabulous gender-bending performance artist Phoenix, wants her to investigate the serial killer Dancer in Darkness.

Dancer’s latest victim? A drag queen.

The LGBTQ+ community have no faith in the police, and need Halley to find them justice.

Halley wants nothing to do with the SPD but has no choice as bodies start piling up. The police need what she knows from the community. They might even listen to her.

But sometimes, investigating one crime opens an even worse can of worms.

“Dancer in Darkness”–the first Halley Brown mystery–introduces a wide range of believable characters, a dark twisted plot, and a mystery that will keep you guessing. Come along for the ride, then stay for the secrets revealed.

Here’s what ChatGPT came back with:

Halley Brown, a former Seattle cop turned private investigator, takes on her latest client, the gender-bending performance artist Phoenix. Tasked with investigating the serial killer Dancer in Darkness, Halley is plunged into a world of LGBTQ+ community and police distrust. Bodies pile up, and Halley must navigate the complex web of secrets and lies to find justice for her client. But with each step she takes, the mystery only deepens. “Dancer in Darkness” is the first Halley Brown mystery, a gripping thriller with richly-drawn characters, a dark twisted plot, and a mystery that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Now, I like what it returned, but I wouldn’t take it exactly like that. I made a few tweaks to it, and am going to go forward with something similar to what it gave me.

For this book, I needed a 10-15 word “hook” or short description. (This book is going to be used as an add-on in an upcoming Kickstarter, and the creator of the Kickstarter asked for this specifically.)

This is where ChatGPT sort of shines. Generating this sort of word combo salad.

I asked it to come up with 10 hooks for me. Here’s what ChatGPT came up with:

“Halley Brown P.I. joins forces with the LGBTQ+ community to stop a serial killer”

“Can Halley solve the mystery of “Dancer in Darkness?”

“Halley Brown’s latest case: a serial killer targeting drag queens”

“Uncovering the truth in the dark world of “Dancer in Darkness”

“From cop to P.I., Halley takes on her toughest case yet”

“Halley Brown navigates the underground world to stop a serial killer”

“Justice for the LGBTQ+ community is on the line”

“Halley Brown faces off against a twisted serial killer in “Dancer in Darkness”

“Ex-cop turned P.I. Halley Brown’s newest case: the serial killer “Dancer in Darkness”

“Join Halley on a journey through the dark world of “Dancer in Darkness” to stop a killer.”

I ended up changing the first one slightly, but I like the direction that the AI went in.

Another example of intelligently using AI is for creating Amazon ads.

Give the AI a blurb, then ask it to generate ten 150-character Amazon ads based on that blurb.

That gave me some really good results, like the following:

“Discover the ruins of a lost city in Ruins of the Gods, the first book in a gripping new epic fantasy series.”

“Experience the myths and legends of an ancient war in Ruins of the Gods, a new dark fantasy series.”

“Follow Tanelith as she navigates a world filled with hatred and prejudice in Ruins of the Gods.”

“Uncover the mysteries and miracles hidden within the ruins of a crashed city in Ruins of the Gods.”

“Join Tanelith on her quest to escape slavery and discover her place in the world in Ruins of the Gods.”

“Immerse yourself in a world of elves, dwarves, and humans in Ruins of the Gods, a new fantasy series.”

“Find out if the past can save the elves from hatred in Ruins of the Gods, the first book in a new series.”

“Explore the ruins of a city where gods once lived in Ruins of the Gods, a new epic fantasy series.”

“Unlock the secrets of the ancient war and its impact on the elves in Ruins of the Gods.”

“Embark on an epic journey of self-discovery in Ruins of the Gods, the first book in a finished fantasy series.”

I didn’t end up using any of these outright. What I did was take a part of one, the middle of another, and the end of a third, to create a much better 150-character Amazon ad.

And these are the sorts of things that I believe that ChatGPT (and the other AIs that are sure to come along) will be useful for. Helping writers create blurbs that are active. Punching up blurbs. Writing short hooks. Etc.

Will they someday be able to come up with some sort of fiction? No idea. Maybe. In the meanwhile, I will rest secure knowing that my voice is unique and that currently, no AI is going to be able to replicate either it or my ideas.

# # # # # # # # # # #

Thank you so much for being a patron of mine! I truly appreciate you.

If you’re reading the free version of this, posted two weeks after the Patreon essay gets put up, maybe think about supporting me for as little as $1 a month.