Literary Shifts

AI as a Fiction Writer: Can AI Replace Novelists & Creative Writers?


Let’s say it: AI is superhuman. 

It’s doing Everything! 

AI has literally changed the way most industries worked — from pharmaceuticals to telecommunications, banking & financial services to real estate, Gaming to Entertainment — this technology has disrupted major industries. 

And now it’s tapping into the literature and copywriting sector as well. We already have AI-enabled copywriting tools that claim to produce compelling copies.  

The Press Association, for example, is able to produce 30,000 local news stories using AI.

Media organizations, such as The New York Times, Washington Post, and Yahoo! have already started using AI to create content.

And that’s why we ask:


Can AI be the New Fiction Writer?

As AI is taking steps into copywriting, it seems technology may one day start to produce human-like scripts, poems, and novels too.

According to Nadira Azermai, whose company ScriptBook is developing a screenwriting AI: “Within five years we’ll have scripts written by AI that you would think are better than human writing.”  

Now that’s a possibility that threatens today’s fiction writers — AI giving them a run for their money!

And the worst part? Developers aren’t going to stop their hunt for the ‘perfect novel generators’ that they can sell to publishers and earn huge profit margins.


The Rise of Robot Authors

A non-profit laboratory named Open AI has announced it has trained machines to write, read, summarize and translate texts unsupervised. The creators said these machines can write both fiction and non-fiction.  

Following the same footsteps, Stefan Åberg, a Swedish news publisher, says he’s building an army of robot writers to auto-produce news and stories. And March Cuban, a tech billionaire, has already invested big on these machines.

The new machine learning models like GPT-2, trained on trillions of words, are giving computers the ability to generate human-like texts. These robots are generating perfectly readable and grammatically correct sentences. 

You can even fine-tune the system for producing a specific style — Russian misinformation, New Yorker Articles, Georgic Poetry — leading to all types of interesting distortions.  

Now, to a fiction writer, all these machines & technologies may seem like a villain with destructive, unfathomable powers. But here’s a thing:


AI is Still Not Orwell or Shakespeare 

GPT-2 cannot write novels — not even semblance. Here’s why:

When GPT-2 was fed the opening line of George Orwell’s 1984 — “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen” — the machine continued narrative as follows:

“I was in my car on my way to a new job in Seattle. I put the gas in, put the key in, and then I let it run. I just imagined what the day would be like. A hundred years from now. In 2045, I was a teacher in some school in a poor part of rural China. I started with Chinese history and the history of science.”


Sounds quite baffling, right? 

Since the narrator cannot have a job in Seattle and “some school” in China at the same time, the story must be set in 1945, with the narrator imagining their career “a hundred years from now”, thanks to the unreasonable expectations about their lifespan.

Even in 1945, the narrator is driving a car that needs to be refueled from inside. 

So, Yes. Machines can learn the complexities of the brain but not the human heart. AI as a fiction writer can perhaps write entertaining or evocative prose in the future. But they are a long way off and somehow the huge corpus of data doesn’t seem enough to tackle intricately-plotted works with wit and charm the same as Shakespeare’s, Orwell’s or Dickens’.

So, right now, novelists and fiction writers don’t seem to have much to fear — because writing is not data. 

Fiction writing, prose, and poems are a means of expression. And a non-sentiment machine or a computer program has nothing to express — it has no experience of the world to evoke emotions. 

Until robots start living rich inner lives and begin to understand the world around them, they cannot tell realistic, relatable, and sentimental stories. 

And even if they start doing that, would we even be able to understand or relate to them? 

Take, lion, for example — if lions could speak or express their emotions, would we relate to him? I think not. Being a lion is presumably different from being a human, and hence, there’s a minimum possibility of mutual comprehension. 

Long Road Ahead 

All in all, AI tech or robot writers are still far from perfect when it comes to writing coherent passages. If you’re thinking Franzen or Austen, it can barely pull out a sentence before losing a thread. 


We never know what lies ahead, but as of now, writers can take comfort in the fact that when it comes to fiction writing, AI is struggling more than them. 



(4) Comments

  1. First of all I want to say awesome blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask
    if you don’t mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and
    clear your thoughts prior to writing. I’ve had a tough time clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out there.
    I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10
    to 15 minutes tend to be lost simply just trying to figure
    out how to begin. Any suggestions or tips? Many thanks!

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    1. Hey, I’m glad you asked that question. Firstly, i would like to say that what you’re experiencing is a very common problem with us writers. And I have found a solution to it over the years with my process. Initially, whenever I sat to write something, my thoughts were all jumbled up. But then, I created a set of rituals around my writing that helped. So now whenever I sit to write, my mind is prepared to only think about writing and nothing else. I’ve posted a blog on writing rituals you can check that out. Also, a quick tip for you, try writing prompts initially, that works like a charm for many writers to center their thoughts.

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