Can AI help you write a novel?

Get inspiration for a story from an AI

JasperAI is the world’s first artificial intelligence creative writing assistant. It can help you start stories by generating ideas, characters, tone and style. Just pop in some plot ideas and see it work its magic.
I came across Jasper AI in a YouTube video by social media expert Rachel Pedersen titled ‘how to create 3 months of content in 3 hours’. Rachel demonstrated how a software program Jasper AI (also known as Conversion AI) could be used for copywriters – for long form text, blog posts, as well as for short, pithy social media posts and email subject lines. As I was watching, and reading the text the AI was creating, I was like … oh my, this is so, so clever.

AI story writer

The co-presenter also mentioned that Jasper can write creative stories. I was skeptical. I like to think that humans will always be needed for their creativity. It scared me to think that AI will ever be able to write anything worthy, à la Hemingway.
I decided to put Jasper to the test. Within the platform there’s a creative story template where you can type in the plot and select the tone of voice, and Jasper will generate text.
Let’s take a look at how Jasper performed, using the plot of one of my short stories (click on the image to read full size):
Jasper AI creative assistant
It actually did far better than I expected. While Jasper did get a little confused about some of the characters and their intentions, these opening paragraphs were solid in setting up the story and tone. I even had a little giggle at the line ‘and then continued making eggs for their son’ – it sounded a bit Raymond Carveresque – focusing on the minutiae in moments of calamity.
I ran some more outputs, and received this opening that was even better:
Jasper AI writing a novel
Notice in this output how Jen is wearing his son’s football coach’s sweatpants – this is an excellent way of saying she’s having an affair without actually saying she was having an affair. This is the moment I became convinced that Jasper AI isn’t just an ordinary writer – he’s a sophisticated writer.
Now, the Creative Story template is only going to give you a piece of the story. You would have to keep updating the plot field to keep generating text. You could then compile pieces of your story together. This could be time consuming – and I’m not sure how well the pieces would flow together.
I also trialled the Long Form assistant template. I copied the beginning text generated from the Creative Story and pressed the generate new text button in the Long Form assistant. The AI would write a few sentences for me at a time, but then it seemed to get stuck.
The developers state very clearly that Jasper is still learning – so it might be some time until the Long Form works better with creative text, or before they develop longer outputs in the Creative Story. However, from what I’ve seen in those beginning paragraphs, it’s definitely looking promising. It’s actually looking scarily promising. In fact, I’d say it’s not too long until we’ll be able to plug in a chapter overview, and press a generate button, to generate a whole novel. The bigger question is – do we want artificial intelligence to be able to do this? And who is the artist? Is it the person who plugged in the chapter overview or is it the programmers?

Should you use an AI writer for your novel?

I’d say if someone has writer’s block, and needs a bit of assistance, Jasper could be a great place to start pumping out some ideas. You can nominate how many outputs you’d like Jasper to generate – so if you’re stuck on the beginning of a novel, you could run 3-10 outputs to experiment with different ways of starting – with different tones and style.
The process of generating text with AI and playing around with it could also become a new form of experimental fiction, like the old-school cut-up technique, but for the digital age.
I’ll be sticking with Jasper AI to help with copywriting and digital marketing. And I’ll be playing with the creative storytelling from time to time just to see how Jasper is learning, and if he can create a better opening paragraph than I could … which I think he has done successfully with Warren and Jen!

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