Copyedits and ChatGPT AI Stories

Copyedits for Capture the Sun landed last week, as expected, and I spent Thursday and Friday doing the first pass. This is the stage where the copy editor checks for repetitive words and continuity errors, or, in my case, deletes about one million extraneous uses of “that.” You might think I’m joking, but here is a tiny sample of the track changes review pane in Word:

A screenshot of Word's review pane showing five cases where "Copy Editor deleted 'that'" and one case where I put it back.

If you look carefully, you’ll see I put one back because the sentence sounded better with it. But I let most of them go, lol.

Today and tomorrow I need to do once last full read-through of the book, looking for any lingering errors, then it’s off to be made into ARCs (digital only this time, sadly), and then real books!

In other news, you may have heard about the waves that ChatGPT AI is making with its ability to mimic natural language. Mr. M has an OpenAI account, and he let me log in and play with it.

My first request, naturally, was to ask it to tell me a story. It had to think for a while, which means it’s more like a real writer than is probably comfortable, but this is the story it created, based on the prompt “Write me a story about a princess who rescues herself.”

Once upon a time, in a far-off kingdom, there was a beautiful princess named Aurora. Aurora lived in a castle high atop a mountain, surrounded by a deep, dark forest.

Despite her royal upbringing, Aurora was a strong and independent young woman. She was determined to prove to herself and to others that she did not need to be rescued by a handsome prince.

One day, Aurora decided to venture into the forest on her own. She had heard rumors of a fierce dragon that lived deep within the forest, and she was determined to confront it.

Aurora traveled for days, braving the dangers of the forest and facing many challenges along the way. She used her wits and her courage to overcome obstacles, and she never once thought of turning back.

Finally, Aurora reached the dragon’s lair. The dragon was enormous, with sharp teeth and fiery breath. But Aurora was not afraid. She stood her ground and faced the dragon head on.

The dragon and Aurora fought fiercely, but in the end, Aurora emerged victorious. She had rescued herself from the dragon, and she returned to the castle as a hero.

From that day on, Aurora was known throughout the kingdom as the princess who had saved herself. She became an inspiration to others, and she continued to use her strength and determination to overcome any challenges that came her way.

Not bad at all! It reads like a fairytale, and while it’s pretty generic, it is a story, with all the required parts. But what if I asked to “make it a science fiction story”? Behold!

Once upon a time, in a distant galaxy, there was a beautiful princess named Aurora. Aurora lived on a planet called Solaria, which was ruled by her father, the wise and just King Orion.

Despite her royal upbringing, Aurora was a curious and adventurous young woman. She was fascinated by the mysteries of the universe, and she spent hours in the castle’s observatory, studying the stars.

One day, Aurora received a distress signal from a distant planet. The inhabitants of the planet were in danger, and they needed her help. Aurora knew that she had to act quickly, but she also knew that she couldn’t do it alone.

She gathered a team of the bravest and most skilled space pilots in the galaxy, and together, they set off on a mission to save the planet. The journey was long and treacherous, but Aurora and her team never wavered in their determination to help those in need.

When they finally reached the planet, they were faced with a fearsome alien race that threatened to destroy everything in its path. But Aurora was undaunted. She used her knowledge of science and technology to devise a plan to defeat the aliens, and she led her team into battle.

In the end, Aurora and her team emerged victorious. The planet was saved, and Aurora returned to Solaria as a hero. From that day on, she was known throughout the galaxy as the princess who had rescued herself and others. She continued to use her knowledge and bravery to protect the people of Solaria and beyond.

Yep, that’s science fiction. Still a little on the generic side, but it could be refined if I wanted to take the time. Instead, I asked it to “make the story a poem.”

Princess Aurora, brave and bold
In a far-off kingdom, she did hold
A royal upbringing, yet strong and free
She proved that she did not need rescuing

One day, she ventured into the forest deep
To face the dragon and its fiery keep
She braved the dangers and never looked back
With courage and determination, she did attack

The dragon and Aurora did fiercely fight
But in the end, Aurora emerged victorious and right
She had saved herself and returned a hero
Throughout the kingdom, her tale did grow

Princess Aurora, brave and true
A shining example, for all to view
She showed the world what one can do
With strength and courage, she came through

Well, it’s certainly poem-like. 😂 And it went back to the original story rather than the sci-fi version of it, which is kind of interesting.

I don’t think we’re to the point where I’m going to be out of a job any time soon, mostly because there are a lot of unanswered questions about copyright and infringement based on how they train the AI.

The same kind of questions are being asked about generated art, too. The line between inspiration and infringement is fairly clear right now, but AI models trained on copyrighted material fall into a weird gray area in the middle that is probably going to be the genesis of a multitude of lawsuits.

And I think unscrupulous people who don’t care about those questions could start using these AI chatbots to churn out books in the not-so-distant future. They might not be good books, but the framework is there to be improved on.

And technology marches ever onward, so it won’t be long before they actually are good books. Maybe in the future, writers who write books “the old-fashioned way” will be hailed as antiquated, or more kindly, boutique or artisanal.

Hmm… I bet I could write a story about that…

11 thoughts on “Copyedits and ChatGPT AI Stories”

  1. One thing about AI is people who created the algorithm still needs to check if the algorithm holds true if new variables are added or deleted from the data set. I keep telling people where I work that if you don’t check, the end result will be wrong. This comes from a biostatistician who used regression analyses for my dissertation back in the day.
    And now I will get off my soapbox…. 😁

  2. Will you send out sign-ups for ARCs or are your readers already chosen?? I’ve LOVED your books so far and have Capture the Sun preordered, but I’d jump at the chance to read it earlier!

    1. My publisher handles the ARC selection. The books usually go up on NetGalley and Edelweiss once they’re ready, so if you have an account, you can request them there. Good luck!

  3. The stories all seem kind of bland, simple, and without personality. The first one, where the princess rescues herself bothers me though, and I don’t like that princess. Essentially she rescued herself from a situation she created and killed a dragon that, as far as I can see, was minding it’s own business and didn’t need killing.

    1. Yeah, the story barely qualifies as her rescuing herself, and only if you squint and assume she heard the dragon was eating people and needed to be killed. The AI knew all the parts—princess, dragon, danger—but didn’t quite join them correctly.

  4. It reads like an adventure story written by a middle school kid – all generalities, no details. no dialogue. But at least it makes sense – I guess that’s progress on the AI front, but I don’t think professional writers are at risk of being edged out of the marketplace anytime soon.

    The poem was a little more impressive since rhyme and meter is a different set of skills that tougher for more people. Still, rap artists and literary poets aren’t in danger of losing contests any time soon.

  5. Chloe Elizabeth Baker

    I´ve been rereading HtS and EtM and I was wondering if you could clarify the Valovian/Human timeline. Could you clarify how many years have passed since Human/Valovian first contact and how many years in between that and the war and then how many years the war lasted. I know you mentioned it somewhere but I am just not finding it and I´ve spent the lst couple of days searching

    1. The timeline in the books is referred to in generalities: a decades-long war, then around three years of peace before HTS kicks off. First contact was over a hundred years after humans started traversing wormholes, and I don’t believe I’ve mentioned how long between first contact and the war. :)

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