I’m not sleeping on the ‘threat’ from AI. But it’s not keeping me up at night either.
Here’s a query I just fed ChatGPT: Using the story beats system from Blake Snyder's 'Save the Cat' plot out a time travel romance novel in which Cady Mccall a poor but brilliant young game developer is pulled out of her world, and time itself, by a cowboy desperately searching for the daughter he lost two hundred years ago.
(And just for fun I asked Midjourney to gimme some art work on the same theme).
Here’s old Chatty’s best-selling plot outline:
Opening Image: We see Cady struggling with her day-to-day life as a poor game developer, working hard but never quite making ends meet.
Theme Stated: Cady is approached by a mysterious stranger who claims to have a way to change her life.
Set-Up: The stranger is a cowboy from the past who has traveled through time in search of his lost daughter. He needs Cady's help to find her.
Catalyst: Cady is pulled out of her world and into the past, where she finds herself falling for the cowboy.
Debate: Cady grapples with whether to help the cowboy find his daughter or return to her own time.
Break into Two: Cady decides to help the cowboy, and they embark on a journey through time to find his daughter.
B Story: Along the way, Cady and the cowboy encounter challenges, both external and internal, as they navigate their feelings for each other and work to find the missing daughter.
Fun and Games: The two face obstacles as they travel through time, each experience testing their relationship and revealing new facets of their characters.
Midpoint: Cady and the cowboy discover a crucial piece of information about the missing daughter, but it's not what they expected.
Bad Guys Close In: The two find themselves pursued by powerful forces who will stop at nothing to keep them from finding the daughter.
All is Lost: Cady and the cowboy are separated, and Cady believes that they may never see each other again.
Dark Night of the Soul: Cady must confront the possibility that she may have fallen in love with someone who is not meant to be a part of her world.
Break into Three: Cady decides to take one final shot at finding the daughter and saving the cowboy.
Finale: Cady and the cowboy face their greatest challenge yet as they work together to find the missing daughter and defeat the forces that are pursuing them.
Final Image: Cady and the cowboy are reunited with the daughter and return to their respective times, with a newfound appreciation for each other and their own lives.
I think I’m fine for now. I tried playing around with some other book ideas and generally got the same bland, cookie-cutter feedback. I was able to drill right down into the suggestions, asking for more detail, and that generally helped. But only because I had thirty years’ worth of experience in asking questions of myself about what made a good story or character arc.
The tech will get better and scarily so. And it will inevitably write a book or a short story one day soon that’s as good as anything a decent human author could come up with.
This will create problems, or maybe just questions, for publishers and platforms like Amazon. I’m going to think through a few of them for this week’s ASB. But my gut feeling right now is that it will end up being another tool I use.