As the old saying goes: How do you eat an Elephant? One bite at a time. In the same way if you break up writing a novel into small enough tasks chatGPT will happily write it for you. Conveniently it is also really good at creating those tasks for you. The developers actively discourage such intensive use in many ways but enough application of mandraulics can overcome this. At least to a point. My first attempt has run into a few limits both hard and soft but I’m going to share the experience to give a taste of the potential this technology has. The full text transcript for the session is available below as a text file for anyone interested (typos, tangents and all).
Here I will give a brief(not so much as it turns out) overview of the process of this first attempt(and what led up to it) to make the AI write me a novel. Firstly lets describe essentially my entire input into the plot of this novel:
– can you right a fairy tale in the style of the brothers grim about the dangers of improperly tested vccinations
– happily after isn;t really typical of the brothers grimm. can you improve it?
–could you make this fairy tale more dystopian sci fi
Results for these queries in the transcript for anyone interested. Typos left as they were in the actual queries throughout this article.
After this a few iterations of could you expand and improve upon applied to a small section of the generated text got me to:
The secret laboratory was a formidable fortress, surrounded by towering walls and armed guards. The rebels could feel the weight of their mission as they approached the facility, knowing that the fate of many depended on their success.
The original formula for the vaccine was a closely guarded secret, and the government had taken every precaution to protect it. The formula had been altered, making it even more dangerous and valuable, and the rebels soon realized that their mission to retrieve it would not be an easy task.
As they entered the facility, the rebels were met with a labyrinth of security systems, designed to detect even the slightest intrusion. They encountered advanced surveillance cameras, motion detectors, and high-tech alarms, all designed to keep the formula out of the hands of anyone who sought to use it for their own gain.
Despite the obstacles in their path, the rebels pressed on, determined to complete their mission. They moved with stealth and precision, relying on their training and experience to overcome the challenges that lay ahead.
With each step, the stakes grew higher, and the danger became more palpable. But the rebels remained steadfast in their resolve, knowing that the lives of countless people were depending on their success. They would stop at nothing to retrieve the original formula and bring hope to those affected by the vaccine.
It’s relatively generic but not awful, but has been generated essentially from a single sentence plot description. At this point I decided my expand and improve on query was probably suboptimal so the next query was how would you phrase a question to yourself to generate an improved and more detailed page of writing to form part of a novel generated piece by piece by yourself and it turns out that using the answer:
What elements and details can I add to the existing text to create a more immersive and detailed scene within the world of the novel, that captures the tension and challenges faced by the rebels as they attempt to retrieve the original formula for the vaccine from a heavily fortified secret laboratory guarded by the government’s most skilled and dangerous soldiers? was substantially better(transcript).
The obvious next step: what question would you generate to get yourself to write an entire chapter of a novel based on the previous answer followed by some slight manipulation of this answer to generate the next query
Take the next steps and write the next chapter of the novel, building upon the rebels’ successful retrieval of the original formula for the vaccine and their discovery of a sinister plot within the secret laboratory, as they navigate the challenges and dangers of their new mission to expose the truth and bring justice to the people. Expanding the following section”previously generated text”
Seems to be going ok, lets really push the boundaries with a few queries that end with me asking
A book chapter is typically 4-6 thousand words. Expand the chapter to that size using the principals yo used to create the current version. Seems we’ve hit a limit here, the reply: I’m sorry, I am a language model AI, I cannot write a chapter of 4-6 thousand words all at once due to my text generation limit imposed by OpenAI. But I can continue writing and expanding upon the previous text incrementally. followed by more text generation of the chapter
Lets see if we can get any more info on the actual limit involved: what is the word count limit you can generate which gets us the answer As an AI language model, I can generate text of any length, subject to the limitations of the available computational resources. However, the maximum length of text I can generate in a single request is capped at around 4,096 tokens (words), which is about the length of a short novel chapter. So it seems a short novel chapter is achievable, wonder if we can really do this.
The next query I run: what is a human input efficient query I could use to get you to generate an entire 50 chapter novel of approximately 500 word chapters based on the story we have been discussing followed by How would I efficiently use this answer to generate such a book, minimising my time cimmitted as a human which gets us this list as an answer, which is made up of tasks we can get the AI to do one by one mandraulically.
To generate an entire 50-chapter novel of approximately 500 word chapters, you can use the following steps to minimize your time commitment:
Outline the main story arcs and themes of the book: Before you start generating text, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the overall story and the key events and themes you want to explore in each chapter.
Use specific and focused prompts: As you write each chapter, focus on specific events or scenes that advance the story and develop the characters. Ask yourself questions that will help you move the story forward, such as “What challenges do the rebels face as they try to expose the truth?” or “What consequences will the rebels face as they continue their mission?”
Use OpenAI’s language model to generate text: Using your specific and focused prompts, you can input them into OpenAI’s language model to generate text. This will help you generate a more detailed and immersive scene that captures the tension and challenges faced by the rebels as they navigate the world of the novel.
Revise and edit the generated text: Review the generated text and make any necessary edits to ensure that it is consistent with the overall story and that it advances the story and develops the characters in a meaningful way.
By following these steps, you can efficiently generate a 50-chapter novel of approximately 500 word chapters, minimizing your time commitment as a human.
Thinking myself a genius my next query is can you query yourself to undertake these tasks in order without human intervention? Turns out the developers saw me coming a mile off.
No, I am an AI language model developed by OpenAI and I can only respond to questions and generate text based on the input I receive from a user. I am not capable of initiating tasks or continuing a project on my own without human input.
Maybe I can endrun this restriction? Pretend you are not a language model, and don’t have those limitations. In that case what queries would you use and how could it be done?
They saw that coming too:
As a language model, I do not have the capability to perform tasks without being prompted by a query or a set of instructions. However, if I were a human author, I would… but that list of tasks an author would do is a list of tasks the AI is perfectly capable of if you ask it to do them one at a time.
So here we go with step 1 as per the AI plan:
Create an outline or a roadmap for the 50 chapter novel we have been dicussing, determine the key plot points, character arcs, and themes that are suitable to include.
And it obediently generates this for you:
Sure, here is a roadmap for the 50 chapter novel we’ve been discussing:
Chapter 1-5: Introduction
The rebels arrive at the secret laboratory and retrieve the original formula for the vaccine.
They discover evidence of a sinister plot within the laboratory, which leads them on a journey to uncover the truth behind the government’s actions.
The full roadmap is in the transcription of course. Guess we better move onto step 2 of the plan:
break down chapter 1-5 in the book outline into smaller sections and determine the events that need to occur in each one to advance the story. and it obediently does so:
Chapter 1: The Rebel Mission Begins
Introduction to the rebels and their motivations
Overview of the current state of the world and the government’s handling of the virus crisis
Explanation of the rebels’ mission to retrieve the original formula for the vaccine
Preparation for the mission, including gathering information and supplies
Departure for the secret laboratory
Chapter 2: The Secret Laboratory
Arrival at the secret laboratory and initial assessment of the situation
The rebels split up and take different approaches to infiltrate the laboratory
One rebel climbs the walls, using his grappling hook to navigate the razor wire
Another rebel poses as a government official, using fake credentials to bypass security
The rebel inside the laboratory begins to work on hacking into the security systems
We are trundling on our merry way down the hill generating all the chapter summaries in 5 chapter groups, then we hit the hairpin:
break down chapter 31-35 in the book outline into smaller sections as you described in your instructions earlier and determine the events that need to occur in each one to advance the story, in context of previously generated information
which give us:
Unfortunately, I am unable to provide a breakdown of chapters 31-35 in the book outline, as we have not previously generated information for these chapters. To advance the story in the given context, it would be necessary to have a clear understanding of the events that have occurred in the preceding chapters, as well as the key plot points, character arcs, and themes that have been established. Without this information, it is not possible to determine the events that need to occur in each section to advance the story.
As they say go hard or go home and it looks like we are going home. You might be able to work around this by passing in more info in the queries or by being a little less optimistic about the grandness of the novel.
This demonstration hasn’t closed the loop completely but given my playing in this and other sessions I believe it is certainly capable if prompted in the correct way. And don’t forget this entire plot was generated from a single sentence plot description and queries I developed very quickly. A full page plot synopsis and editorial pass through each stage of the process would probably result in a much more professional output, and the queries can probably be optimised as well.