Use Chat GPT to Experiment with Fiction Style, Part 2
In “Use Chat GPT to Experiment with Fiction Style, Part 2,” host Beth Barany, creativity coach and science fiction and fantasy novelist continues her demonstration on how you can use Chat GPT to edit your fiction and shares examples using the styles of famous writers.
Listen to Use Chat GPT to Experiment with Fiction Style, Part 1 here.
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The How To Write The Future podcast is for science fiction and fantasy writers who want to write positive futures and successfully bring those stories out into the marketplace. Hosted by Beth Barany, science fiction novelist and creativity coach for writers.
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Transcript for Episode 42 – Use Chat GPT to Experiment with Fiction Style, part 2
Are you looking for a way to dig into your world building for your story?
Then I recommend that you check out my World Building Workbook for Fiction Writers. Now available.
It’s at How To Write The Future.com.
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Hey everyone. Welcome back to How to Write the Future podcast.
The focus of this podcast and the focus of my work is to support writers to create positive optimistic stories because when we vision what is possible we help make it so. And part of that visioning is learning the tools of today that help us become better writers for tomorrow.
I hope you enjoy this part two episode on chat GPT. Let’s dig in.
If you want to know more about what is chat, GPT and how it works, then I recommend you go and listen to part one of this episode that came out last week, and then join me back here for the continuation of that episode.
Now, I wanted to talk about style and voice today.
I am not trained in talking about style and voice in any kind of literary capacity. I’m not an academic. I’m a fiction writer and fiction writing teacher.
I take what’s useful and I let go of the rest. All that said, I am an avid reader and I can recognize the differences and styles between the different novelists I read, and I would imagine you can do the same.
In the Part One episode, episode 41, and in this episode, Part Two episode 42, I have been working with one sentence, a very plain sentence, and have been playing with it in different writing styles.
That sentence is: “Janey ran down the corridor.”
As you listen today. think about what writing styles you would like to experiment with and analyze and see what you can take with you into your own fiction.
In the Style of Edgar Allan Poe
I was curious, so I wanted to try something completely different and I asked it to rewrite in the style of Poe, Edgar Allen Poe. And here is what it came up:
“Once upon a bleak and dreary space station, Janey ran down a corridor. Her footsteps echoing through the darkness.
“The walls seemed to close in around her as she sprinted past rows of sealed doors that creaked and moaned in protest. A chill ran down her spine as she heard strange whispers and murmurs that seemed to emanate from the shadows. The flickering of light of the station cast an eerie glow that illuminated the path ahead with a spectral aura.
Janey’s heart pounded with fear as she sensed an ominous presence lurking in the shadows of the station, watching and waiting for her.
“With a quickening of her pace, Janey raced on heatless of the dangers that lay in wait. She knew that her journey was perilous, fraught with unseen hazards and terrors.
“Yet she pressed on, her courage and determination her only weapons against the unknown.”
I really enjoyed this passage and this rewrite because it steeps us in the eeriness of Poe.
In the style of Jim Butcher
All right. I asked it now to rewrite in the style of Jim Butcher.
“Janey thundered down the corridor, her boots pounding against the steel grading of the space station. Her heart raced with adrenaline as she dodged past rows of sealed portals and flickering lights, the hum of the station engines vibrating in her bones. The air was thick with the smell of ozone and burning circuits as if the station itself was alive and angry.
“Janey could feel the weight of the universe bearing down on her as she raced to reach her destination before it was too late. Her eyes darted around scanning for any signs of danger or opportunity as she pushed her body to its limits. The corridor seemed to stretch on forever twisting and turning like a maze, as if they were trying to keep her from her goal.
But Janey was no ordinary traveler. She was a force to be reckoned with, a warrior born of the stars themselves and nothing, not even the might of the cosmos could stand in her way.”
This is so Jim Butcher in so many ways. In his stories, he pits the main character against the cosmos, and he makes his settings as if they were creatures.
So he says “as if the setting itself was alive and angry.” He makes the setting be alive. “The corridors are like a maze, as if they were trying to keep her from her goal
“Again, making the setting be as if it were alive. Really, really fun.
I picked authors that I had exposure to and I’ve read several books of Jim Butcher.
In the style of Beth Barany
All right, now I asked it to write in my own style and we’ll see what it comes up with. Janey is the main character of a series I’m working on that is published: the Janey McCallister Mystery series.
All right, and here is what it did:
“With a determined stride, janey hurried down the gleaming corridor of the space station. The walls hummed with energy, and the air was filled with a subtle tingle that made her skin prickle. As she made her way past the sealed portals, Janey’s eyes sparkled with a sense of purpose and conviction, the embodiment of a hero on a noble quest.
Every step she took was imbued with the confidence of one who knew their destination, their destination being the key to saving the station from a dark fate. Though the path was treacherous and the journey perilous, Janey forged ahead knowing that the mission was too important to turn back. And as she made her way through the twisting corridors, Janey felt a sense of anticipation and excitement rise within her, fueling her drive and determination to succeed.
“She was the light in the darkness, the savior of the station, and nothing could dim her bright spirit or indomitable will.”
I have to say the second two paragraphs do not feel like me. The first paragraph does, except for I do not like “Janey’s eyes sparkled.” That’s not deep point of view, and I write deep point of view. She can’t see her own eyes.
All right, let’s keep going.
In the style of Lewis Carroll
Then, I asked it to rewrite in the style of Lewis Carroll, and here’s what it gave me.
“Twas a curious sight indeed, as Janey ran down the corridor of the space station, her feet were nimble and quick, and her eyes shown bright with a glimmer of adventure.
“The walls seemed to shift and twist their shapes, contorting and morphing into strange and wondrous forms. Janey’s heart beat fast with the thrill of the chase as she darted past rows of sealed portals and flickering lights. The air was thick with the scent of ozone and metal. A curious perfume that tingled at her nose.
As she raced on, Janey could feel the energy of the station coursing through her veins, filling her with a sense of wonder and awe. Every step she took brought her closer to her goal, closer to the mystery that lay hidden at the heart of the station. And though the journey was long and winding, Janey pressed on, her spirit unflagging and her will unbreakable, for she knew that the greatest adventures were the ones that lay just beyond the horizon, waiting to be discovered by the bold and the curious.”
I’m not a hundred percent sure that represents a good likeness of Lewis Carroll. The attitude of this piece is hopeful and also surreal, which I would identify with Lewis Carroll.
In the style of Dr. Suess
Then I asked it to rewrite in the style of Dr. Seuss. By now, my husband was sitting next to me. He suggested Lewis Carroll and Dr. Suess, and his writing tends to be surreal and inspired by these authors.
Oh, the corridor of the space station was quite a sight to see as Janey ran along her feet moving nimbly and free.
“The walls were bright and shiny with colors that popped and popped, and the door was sealed up tightly as if the station had just been mopped. The air was filled with static, with sparks that crackled and popped, and the hum of the engines was a sound that never stopped. Janey ran with glee, her heart beating fast and true as she made her way down the corridor not knowing what to do.
“She passed by doors and lights that flickered and danced. And the station seemed to pulse with an energy enhanced. But Janey kept on running with a grin from ear to ear, or she knew that anything was possible as long as she had no fear. So off she went with a hop and a skip and a jump down the corridor of the space station with a whoop and a thump.
And though she didn’t know what the future held in store, Janey was ready for anything with a heart that was brave and pure.”
Really fun. So much like Dr. Seuss.
In the style of Dashiell Hammett
I had to keep going and the reason I kept going was I was just curious. And you could try this and see what you come up with.
So I asked it to rewrite in the style of Dashiell Hammett. Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon was a big inspiration to me when I was just starting out as a novelist and his work and the Maltese Falcon inspired me to try my hand at crime fiction.
“Janey bolted down the corridor of the space station, her footsteps echoing against the metal walls.
“She moved with a feline grace. Her senses alert to every detail around her. The air was thick with the smell of oil and ozone, and the hum of the station engines filled her ears like a distant roar. Janey’s eyes darted from side to side, scanning for any signs of trouble or opportunity. She was a woman on a mission, a detective of the highest order, and she would stop at nothing to get to the bottom of the mystery that lay ahead. As she ran on the corridor twisted and turned like a snake, its secrets hidden in the shadows, but Janey was no ordinary gumshoe. She was a master of deduction, a solver of puzzles, and she had a sixth sense of trouble. And as she neared her destination, Janey could feel the tension mounting, the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end. For she knew that whatever lay ahead would be her greatest challenge yet, and she was ready to face it head on.”
I really like this, and I can also see that this style of writing really appeals to me and is a lot like what I do.
Now, in an earlier exercise, I had actually excerpted a few paragraphs from an earlier book, one of my published books that is about Janey McCallister, my Space Station investigator, and I asked it to analyze my style.
I took its interpretation of my style and asked it to do a rewrite.
“Using a straightforward and concise style, mostly informal language with some technical jargon and using short sentences and paragraphs to create a fast-paced and urgent tone.”
And this is what chat GPT did with that prompt:
“Janey sprinted down the space station corridor, her heart pounding in her chest. The smell of ozone and metal hung thick in the air as she dodged past rows of sealed portals and flashing lights. She had to get to the other end of the station and fast. There was a problem with the ventilation system and the air was becoming toxic.
Janey knew that if she didn’t fix it soon, everyone on the station would be in serious danger. She checked her handheld device, scanning for any clues as to what was causing the malfunction. The readouts showed a spike in temperature and pressure, but Janey couldn’t see any obvious signs of damage. With a flick of her wrist, she opened a panel in the wall revealing a maze of wires and circuits. She took a deep breath and dove in her fingers moving quickly and deafly as she tried to identify the source of the problem, and then finally she found it. A faulty valve stuck it in the closed position. Janey reached in and twisted it open, feeling the rush of cool air as the system springs back to life.
She let out a sigh of relief and glanced at the clock. Just in time. Janey knew that she had saved the day and that everyone on the station owed her a debt of gratitude. But for her, it was all in a day’s work.”
So this style of writing, these level of details, is way more along the lines of the kind of thing that I wrote.
And just to remind you, this whole exercise started with a sentence prompt, which was “Janey ran down the corridor.
“I told it that I wanted this rewritten in a science fiction style, and gave it a particular author to emulate. I share about that in part one. Episode 41.
That’s it. That’s all I said. All the embellishments is the choice of this program.
Some things to keep in mind as you go and play with this tool is that you want to give it specific instructions and ask it to mimic different styles, if you want to explore different styles.
The whole point of this exercise was to see what it would do with a generic sentence that didn’t have anything, no details. I gave it a setting, and I just gave it a sentence to start with.
So you wanna be as specific as you can in prompts. As you saw, what I did in this exercise is keep tweaking them. Add in some things or take away some things. Give it constrictions.
So the main takeaways for prompts are: Give it specific instructions, ask it to use the voice or persona of another author, if you’re gonna do it with writing styles. And then try new things and keep trying new things.
That is the end of this episode on playing with ChatGPT.
So, I’m curious to hear about your experiences with ChatGPT. Are you playing with it? How are you using it? I’m very curious to hear.
Thank you so much, everyone for listening to my podcast, your interest and feedback is so inspiring to me. And helps me know that I’m helping you in some small way.
So write long and prosper.
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ABOUT BETH BARANY
Beth Barany teaches science fiction and fantasy novelists how to write, edit, and publish their books as a coach, teacher, consultant, and developmental editor. She’s an award-winning fantasy and science fiction novelist and runs the podcast, “How To Write The Future.”
Learn more about Beth Barany at these sites:
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