Traditional writing practice versus A.I.

by | May 6, 2021 | Newsletter

Since my books are set in 1880s Idaho Territory, my protagonist’s adventures involve extensive research. I find this part of the writing process fascinating, although it can become the proverbial rabbit hole down which I not only lose days, but where I’m often struck by the difference between the years I am researching and life today.

Of course, computers hold vast treasures for writers to help them from conception of their great idea, to polishing the final product.

While writing I find the on-line Merriam Webster dictionary and thesaurus a fantastic resource when unsure if a word was in use at a particular time. (Maybe I’m too pedantic with words!) On the flip side, it’s interesting to see that words or phrases one might think were of fairly recent origin have actually been used for centuries. The dictionary rabbit hole is another I am quite happy to disappear down.

If on a traditional tack when editing, it is worth doing simple things like reading something aloud in order to discover mistakes or repeated words. Admittedly, this is a big job when you are talking about a manuscript nearly 100 000 words in length but this, and changing the font, is extremely helpful. I was setting the scene for a friend once more to hear the story line out loud and sort it in my head, and said “. . . someone sends an email . . . I mean a telegram!”

Even the most obvious things are easy to miss.

Out of curiosity I recently sent Dying Grass Moon, Hennessey’s latest outing, to be assessed by Authors A.I., which shares an association with Bingebooks (see below). Within half an hour ‘Marlowe’, the bot, sent me a twenty-four page report chock-full of valuable information.

There were pie graphs, character personality charts, frequently used phrases and possible cliches. There were diagrams that showed narrative arcs, plot turns and pacing and so much more. To supplement these findings Marlowe suggested how to implement changes if I chose to.

The report was entirely electronically generated.

It was incredibly interesting and, I admit, blew my mind, reminding me that Stephen Hawking said –  basically – we must put systems in place to ensure A.I. the servant does not become A.I., the master.

A.I. is helpful, unquestionably, but also a scary concept.

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