Will ChatGPT be the end of writer’s block?
By Samantha Pillay
I don’t mean because you can use ChatGPT to write something for you. I mean because you can use it to generate new ideas.
As a writer, I often want to change my first draft several times.
Even if I don’t like the response generated by ChatGPT the process could keep the momentum going and help me discover what I am looking for. I can see how a ChatGPT response I don’t like could be as valuable as one I like.
A new idea or perspective would not be limited by my experience or knowledge and might be something I haven’t previously considered. For example, you could ask, ‘Give me five unexpected actions the protagonist could take next’. This might inspire new ideas or plot twists, introduce new conflicts, add depth to characters, and keep readers engaged by defying expectations.
Here are the five examples ChatGPT gave me:
• The protagonist decides to team up with their former enemy to achieve a common goal, leading to an unexpected alliance that changes the course of the story.
• The protagonist chooses to betray their closest ally in order to protect a dark secret, leading to a moral dilemma that drives the narrative forward.
• The protagonist decides to fake their own death in order to evade capture by their enemies, leading to a thrilling escape sequence and a new identity that challenges their sense of self.
• The protagonist discovers a long-lost family member who holds the key to their past, leading to a new quest that puts them in danger but also gives them a sense of purpose.
• The protagonist makes a deal with a supernatural being to gain incredible powers, leading to a shift in the balance of power and an unexpected twist in the story's climax.
ChatGPT can also help writers who are struggling with grammar and sentence structure. It can provide suggestions for alternative word choices, sentence structures, and punctuation, helping writers to improve the flow and readability of their writing. This could be like having an English tutor providing real-time feedback. The process could result in more rapid improvement in one’s writing skills rather than the view that writing skills will be eroded using AI.
1. Alternative word choices: If a writer is trying to describe a character's emotions and types a sentence like "He felt bad," ChatGPT might suggest more nuanced words to replace "bad," such as "guilty," "ashamed," or "remorseful." These suggestions can help the writer to convey the character's emotions more effectively and create a deeper emotional connection with the reader.
2. Sentence structure: ChatGPT might suggest alternative ways to structure the sentence to create a more dramatic effect if a writer is trying to build tension and suspense in a scene. For example, if the writer types "The door creaked open slowly," ChatGPT might suggest changing it to "Slowly, the door creaked open," emphasizing the tension and drawing out the moment. This can help the writer to create a more immersive and engaging reading experience.
3. Punctuation: If a writer is trying to convey complex ideas in a sentence, ChatGPT can suggest more appropriate punctuation to clarify the meaning. For example, if the writer types "The company is hiring new employees which are expected to increase productivity," ChatGPT might suggest adding a comma after "employees" to make it "The company is hiring new employees, which are expected to increase productivity," which clarifies that the employees, not the company, are expected to increase productivity. This can help the writer avoid confusion and ensure their message is communicated clearly.
For those who haven’t tried using ChatCPT, it generates responses based on patterns in the text data it has been trained on. Once you generate a response, there is a ‘regenerate response’ button. My limited experience is that this gives a different yet often not better response, even with my prompting on how to improve. This may be because it is a matter of personal opinion on what I like and don’t like in the response, and ChatGPT doesn’t know what I like or want.
Will ChatGPT be a tool for inspiration, proofreading, and editing, helping writers produce faster, more polished results?
I am yet to be convinced that the best final result is one not created by me. I feel like I can still improve on ChatGPT’s response. That might be something we both have to agree to disagree on, but for now, I’ll be using my own ‘regenerated response’.