words and images by mk swanson
Claude, ChatDog & DALL-E, My New Best Work Friends

Claude, ChatDog & DALL-E, My New Best Work Friends

ChatGPT’s list of my topics.

I’ve been learning to use AI/Machine Learning tools like ChatDog (as I call it) and Claude to give me a new way to write, edit, and brainstorm for my books and technical copy.* At first, I couldn’t understand what they could do for me, and I simply asked questions, which ChatGPT answered in the most boring way possible. (See my post on using it to talk about depression. Yikes.)

I’d been playing with Stable Diffusion and DALL-E to create strange and sometimes disturbing images (this is the home of the uncanny valley), but I couldn’t figure out how to get this verbal firehose to serve me up useful material.

As the weeks went by, I started to use the AI generation tools in new ways. It seemed like, the more creative I was, the more creative they were in response. I changed the way I was using image generation, too, becoming more purposeful, more focused. Could I use an image for a blog post? To keep track of a dream? To show someone an idea I was working on?

I’m a year in to using AI generation, and this is what I’m using it for:

• To see a suggested form for something I’ve never written, or I haven’t written for a while – a song, a new resume.

• To write book blurbs, which I hate doing.

• To outline existing novels.

• To push myself to look for more detail in my scenes (I mean, I can see it, why can’t you?)

• To research ideas; AI may hallucinate, but not as often as Google’s search results. Plus, you get a concise, readable answer, like having your own personal wikipedia page. Once I’ve found something, I can look for serious, fact-filled resources to confirm my information.

• To brainstorm names, mostly for my role-playing games. It’s pretty good at this, and it’s hilarious, both intentionally and unintentionally.

I have to admit, I’m scared to use AI to generate anything for publishing. But cover art and book blurbs have been a trip hazard for me for too many years. I’m going to enjoy this grand new faithful assistant, and get my hard work in front of folks, for good or for meh.

*Some folks are nervous to say they are using AI in their projects. Is it cheating? Will I be seen as a hack? To that, I say: I’ve written advertisements, public relations copy, hardware release notes, cable company service copy, and lots and lots of fiction. If I was going to be embarrassed, it’s a little too late.

When I asked Claude to write this blog post for me, this is what he came up with.
Some recent generations in DALL-E.

This is What ChatGPT says you can use it for:

  1. Brainstorming: ChatGPT can serve as a creative collaborator, helping you generate new ideas for your novel’s plot, characters, settings, and themes. It can provide fresh perspectives and suggest unexpected directions for your story.
  2. Plot development: You can outline your novel’s plot by discussing it with ChatGPT. It can help you structure your story, identify key plot points, and refine the narrative arc. By engaging in a dialogue, you can explore various possibilities and ensure a cohesive and engaging plotline.
  3. Character creation: ChatGPT can assist in developing compelling characters by discussing their traits, backstories, motivations, and relationships. You can bounce ideas off ChatGPT to flesh out your characters and ensure they are well-rounded and consistent throughout your novel.
  4. Worldbuilding: Creating a vibrant and immersive fictional world is crucial for many genres. ChatGPT can help you brainstorm details about the setting, including its history, geography, culture, and technology. It can provide insights and suggestions to enhance the believability and richness of your world.
  5. Scene organization: ChatGPT can aid in outlining the structure of your novel by discussing the sequence of scenes and their importance to the overall story. It can help you determine the most effective order of events, build tension, and maintain a strong narrative flow.
  6. Conflict and tension: Engaging stories often rely on conflict and tension. ChatGPT can assist in brainstorming and refining conflicts within your story, be they internal struggles for characters or external challenges they face. It can help you build suspense and create compelling obstacles for your protagonists to overcome.
  7. Dialogue refinement: Crafting authentic and engaging dialogue is crucial for bringing your characters to life. You can use ChatGPT to explore conversations between characters, test out different tones, and refine the dialogue to ensure it feels natural and serves the story effectively.
  8. Theme exploration: ChatGPT can engage in discussions about the themes you want to explore in your novel. It can provide insights, ask thought-provoking questions, and help you delve deeper into the underlying messages and ideas you wish to convey through your story.
  9. Feedback and critique: ChatGPT can act as an impartial reader, providing feedback and critique on your outline. It can point out potential plot holes, inconsistencies, or areas that need further development. This can be invaluable in strengthening your overall narrative structure.
  10. Inspiration and motivation: Sometimes, writers face creative blocks or need a motivational boost. ChatGPT can provide encouragement, offer writing prompts, or engage in conversations about your writing process. It can help reignite your inspiration and keep you motivated throughout the novel outlining stage.