DL Shirey writes from Portland, Oregon, where it's probably raining. His short stories and non-fiction appear in over 60 publications, including including Confingo, Page & Spine, Zetetic and Wild Musette. You can find more of his writing at www.dlshirey.com and @dlshirey on Twitter.
As you may know, I have a thing about lists, so it seems appropriate to put ChatGPT through its paces, listwise. Let’s start with Santa Claus and his flying reindeer.
I know that Rudolph was not in the original poem, so I asked The Machine to brief me on the list of reindeer names.
Prompt The names of Santa’s reindeer have evolved over the years. In list form, tell me their names through history.
NOTE: the result was a voluminous text outlining the history of reindeer names, plus a summary paragraph that got to the point of my question. I’ll spare you the wordy rhetoric and share the bulleted recap.
Dear Editors, Your Lit Mags and Journals are probably being infiltrated with GPT-partnered stories or AI-plagiarized writing. It’s becoming a problem.
For writers like myself who produce original work, please consider using one of the tools listed below to help detect derivative content. You are one of the last lines of defense to keep creative writing pure.
NOTE: In previous posts I used ChatGPT to aid in research. This time, however, The Machine told me:
As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, there weren't any widely available websites or apps specifically designed to detect AI-generated text like ChatGPT. However, the landscape of AI and NLP tools and services is constantly evolving, so it's possible that new tools or platforms may have emerged since then.
To contradict the accompanying photo, this story takes place during UNhappy Hour. A bar, yes. Happy, no. This tale has one of the more disgusting scenes I’ve ever written– in a good, horror story kind of way. You’ll know it when you read it. And you can read it at Idle Ink.
Blink-Ink #52 is out. If that wasn’t exciting enough, my 50-word microfiction “Behind Schedule” is in it. 25 more tiny tales are also shoeboxed in this peewee publication. Subscribe today, that way you won’t miss out on a single mini masterpiece.
Be sure to read the excellent interview with Blink-Ink editors Doug and Sally on Chill Subs.
This is a photo of a Halloween ornament named “The Mansion on Ravenwood Lane,” a holiday decoration produced by Hallmark in 2004. This has nothing to do with my ChatGPT inquiry, except that it does. Information about this collectible exits on Wikipedia.
It seems ChatGPT is quite capable of generating endless stories. But original ones? Not so much; at least in this case. I outlined the parameters of a story The Machine was to write. I do not mention that the elements are taken from the Hasbro board game Clue.
Write an original murder mystery that takes place in an old house. Select one each from the suspects, weapons, and locations listed below to include in the story.
Suspects: Mrs. White, Mrs. Peacock, Professor Plum, Colonel Mustard, Miss Scarlett, Mr. Green.
Weapons: Knife, Revolver, Rope, Wrench, Candlestick, Lead Pipe.
Locations: Ball Room, Billiard Room, Conservatory, Dining Room, Hall, Kitchen, Lounge, Library, Study.
The result was a story The Machine titled “The Enigmatic Echo.”
Conan O’Brien once tweeted, “Analogies are the metaphors of similes.” Of the three, it’s hard to tell if Conan has a favorite, but mine are metaphors. They are essential when I write, providing unique ways to express thoughts and add richness and variety.
A metaphor is a way to describe something by comparing it to something else, like saying “Her smile is a ray of sunshine” to mean her smile is bright and cheerful. Using a good metaphor can enhance understanding by connecting abstract concepts to more familiar ones, making complex ideas more accessible.
As I’ve stated previously, I’m starting to use ChatGPT for minor writing tasks, not major text generation. Brainstorming metaphors sounds like a perfect chore for ChatGPT to help soup up a second draft.
Prompt Come up with 10 metaphors for “your pants are too tight”
As horror goes, this story is rather tame. There is no gore, there are no grisly monsters. There is the Harv itself, but it’s just barely hideous. The real horror comes when one realizes that a story like this is possible.
And then there was the writing of it. I first concocted the plot and submitted it to a few journals with no takers. The rejections were understandable, the creature was abhorrent in the abstract, but needed to become real. In a major rewrite, I objectified the Harv even further by giving it a number (H3JJDx617) while showing glimpses of the creature’s emotion, curiosity and love of mangoes. Published in December 2020 by Teleport Magazine.
by DL Shirey
Dillon Baumgartner stopped before a portrait, one in a row of two dozen along the wall. Each was spotlit, in a thick, ornate frame, yet none had nameplates. Identification wasn’t necessary; Baumgartner recognized the faces. They were among the most affluent men and women in America.
“I thought these were photographs,” he said as he fussed with straightening the visitor’s badge pinned on his lapel. “They’re oil paintings.”
The young man, Cooper, according to his official badge, slowed his walk, but didn’t stop. “Photographs of oil paintings, actually. The originals were gifted to our benefactors, to show our appreciation,” he said, “This way, please.”
The first word game I remember playing was Mad Libs and I happily discovered they are still around today. Mad Magazine and Mad Libs are not affiliated, but both had an influence on my becoming a writer.
If you are not familiar with Mad Libs, let my old pal ChatGPT introduce you.
Define “Mad Libs,” the fill-in-the-blank word game. Use the year in which it was invented.
Mad Libs is a playful word game that originated in 1953. In this game, players fill in missing words in a given passage to create amusing and often nonsensical stories. By providing various types of words like nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs, players inject their own creativity and humor into the narrative. The result is a hilarious and unpredictable tale that brings laughter and entertainment to gatherings and social events.
I began thinking about Mad Libs again because I wanted to come up with creative ways to make ChatGPT perform tricks like an AI circus animal. So, let’s see if The Machine can do Mad Libs.
The old saying goes “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” I once found this funny because my sister was a teacher. It’s not so funny now when the aphorism changes to “Those who write, do; those who can’t, use LLMs.”
You might have heard this acronym bandied about as it relates to ChatGPT and its AI pals. If not, let The Machine explain:
Describe LLM in non-technical terms.
LLM, which stands for "Large Language Model," is a smart computer program that uses advanced technology to understand and generate human-like text, helping people with various tasks and providing information on a wide range of topics.
This is a page from the notebook I use to record ideas, so please excuse the penmanship, scattershot grammar, and indecipherable context. I jot down these notes stream-of-consciousness style in case I want to expand upon them later.
The original entry is from 2011 but now that it’s 2023, let’s see what ChatGPT can add.
First things first, let me flesh out the idea a bit more. I’ve translated my gibberish into a rudimentary storyline, and added names so ChatGPT can assist.
Outline a complete scenario based on this story idea:
A writer, Bob, uses someone’s true life story as a basis for a screenplay. The acquaintance’s name is Jane. Bob was desperately trying to meet a deadline, writes a screenplay in a hurry, using Jane’s story undisguised. Bob sells the screenplay and the movie is produced two years later. Bob completely forgets about the true origin story. When the movie airs it ruins Jane’s life, revealing a secret she did not want her family to discover. Jane plans her revenge on Bob, who is now a wealthy, connected man in Hollywood