Monday Motivation: Existential threat or brainstorm partner?

 In Monday Motivation, Richard Beynon's blog, Tips for Writers

Together with what sometimes appears to be the rest of the world, I have followed the debate around ChatGPT – the artificial intelligence search engine and chatbot –  with great interest.

And I’ve watched Mircosoft and Google panicking. After all, a search engine that doesn’t just point you in the direction of the answers you’re seeking, but summarises and organises coherent, readable answers – with a dash of personality thrown in for good measure – changes the game entirely. Now both Microsoft and Google have announced that they’ll be launching their own versions of Chat GPT. I’ve joined the queue to be issued with the new generation of Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, which has been fitted with the advanced AI technology developed by the creators of ChatGPT.

As I’ve reported before, I’ve played with ChatGPT and was duly impressed with both its abilities – and its limitations. I’ve prompted it to write poems of various kinds (clunky), short stories (passingly good – but still clunky) and short essays on a variety of topics.

But ChatGPT is not just a curiosity – it is, in fact, an enormously versatile and powerful tool.

So after I’d tested the limits of its creative capacities, I decided to explore its usefulness as a writing assistant. And I thought I’d begin by asking it how it believed (if a chatbot can be said to have beliefs!) it can be useful to writers.

Here’s what it said:

As an Al language model, ChatGPT can be a useful tool for fiction writers to enhance and augment their writing in a few ways: 

  1. Generating ideas: ChatGPT can be used to generate ideas and prompts for new stories or to help brainstorm plot points and character arcs. Writers can prompt ChatGPT with a general topic or idea and receive suggestions and inspiration for their work. 
  2. Developing characters: ChatGPT can be used to generate character descriptions, traits, and personalities, which can help writers create more well-rounded and believable characters in their stories. Writers can prompt ChatGPT with specific character traits or characteristics and receive suggestions and examples of how to incorporate them into their work. 
  3. Improving writing style: ChatGPT can be used to help writers improve their writing style, grammar, and vocabulary. Writers can use ChatGPT to check their writing for errors, suggest alternative phrasing, or provide synonyms for overused words and phrases. 
  4. Researching information: ChatGPT can be used to research information related to a story, such as historical events, scientific concepts, or cultural practices. Writers can prompt ChatGPT with a question or topic and receive relevant information and context to help inform their writing. 

It’s important to keep in mind that while ChatGPT can be a useful tool for fiction writers, it is not a replacement for a human editor or the writer’s own creativity and critical thinking skills. Writers should use ChatGPT as a supplement to their own writing process and be mindful of the limitations of  the technology.

There you have it, straight from the AI’s mouth. I’ve started experimenting in the ways that the chatbot suggests – and almost immediately have found the experience of collaborating with it exhilarating. It’s a bit like having your very own brainstorm partner.

I’m not suggesting that ChatGPT – or any of its cousins waiting in the wings – can provide imaginative content. Simply, that it can stimulate your creative imagination in a variety of ways that we have yet to explore.

Happy writing,



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