As promised, here’s the result of running a new prompt through ChatGPT and then how I “fixed” it. The prompt came about while playing around with the prompts highlighted in a post a couple of days ago. If you look at them, you will see how things have changed with the story. This wasn’t so much a conscious change as what happened when I started re-rolling the output and refining it some.
But let’s start with the initial framework, the prompt:
Write 1500 words of a chapter using the following details:
Genre: military science fiction
Tone: serious and concerned
Point of view: third person past tense
Setting: Brigadier General Ashlyn’s Shaw’s office at the Basilone Military Academy, New Kilrain, Fuercon
Key Characters: Ashlyn Shaw, commandant of the Academy, Marine, mother, been in the Reserves since the last war ended more than a decade ago but still is kept in the loop regarding military intelligence
Rico Santiago, former head of intel for the Marines. Now a senior intel chief on the civilian side, one of Ashlyn’s closest friends and one who keeps her in the loop, he is approximately 8 years older than she is, widowed
Captain Maria Hernandez, Ashlyn’s second in command at the Academy, new to the role but quickly proving herself to be indispensable, Navy
Conflict: Ashlyn worries Fuercon is about to find itself having to go to war again, this time a war it won’t be prepared for. Summary: Captain Hernandez enters Ashlyn’s office and reports on the progress of plans for the upcoming graduation. Before she leaves, a message comes in for Ash that she screens. Then she tells Ashlyn it is Santiago. Ashlyn, worried because she just talked to the man the evening before, takes the call and dismisses Hernandez. She listens in concern as Santiago tells her they need to talk again, there’s more information about the events in the Cassius System. He won’t go into details over the comms, but he confirms it doesn’t look good. As she ends the call a few minutes later, she turns to look out over the grounds of the Academy, her expression grim as she thinks about how some of those cadets might soon be shipping out to their deaths.
Make sure to have plenty of realistic dialog, and be sure to show don’t tell, and use deep point of view. Write in a very slow pace, building the story with in-depth character development and world-building.
The underlined parts above are the “prompts”. The rest is the guidance for the app. The app gave me this result:
Brigadier General Ashlyn Shaw was seated at her desk in her spacious office, surrounded by military memorabilia and decorations, as she reviewed the progress reports on her computer screen. She was the commandant of the Basilone Military Academy, and she took her responsibilities seriously. As a Marine and a mother, she understood the importance of training and preparing the next generation of soldiers for the challenges that lay ahead.
Just then, her second in command, Captain Maria Hernandez, entered the office. “General, the plans for the upcoming graduation are progressing smoothly,” she reported.
“Good to hear, Captain,” Ashlyn replied, her tone serious and concerned. “We need to ensure that these cadets are ready for whatever may come their way.”
Captain Hernandez nodded in agreement, before her eyes fell on the flashing message notification on Ashlyn’s screen. “Excuse me, General, it looks like you have a message.”
Ashlyn quickly screened the message, her expression growing more troubled with each passing second. “It’s from Santiago,” she muttered, referring to her friend and former head of intel for the Marines.
Captain Hernandez furrowed her brow in concern. “Is something wrong?”
Ashlyn hesitated for a moment before responding, “I just talked to him last night. This can’t be good news.” She took a deep breath and picked up the phone on her desk. “Dismissed, Captain.”
As soon as Captain Hernandez had left the room, Ashlyn pressed the button to connect with Santiago. “What’s going on, Rico?” she asked, her voice tense.
“Ashlyn, we need to talk again. There’s more information about the events in the Cassius System,” Santiago replied, his tone grave.
Ashlyn felt a chill run down her spine at the mention of the Cassius System, a remote area of space where a military conflict had broken out a few months earlier. “What’s happened?”
Santiago hesitated for a moment before responding, “I can’t go into details over the comms, but suffice it to say, it doesn’t look good.”
Ashlyn felt a lump form in her throat. She knew what that meant. Fuercon, the planet where the Basilone Military Academy was located, could soon find itself having to go to war again, and this time, it might not be prepared for what was coming.
“Alright, I’ll meet you at the usual spot,” Ashlyn said, trying to keep her voice steady.
“Good. I’ll see you soon,” Santiago replied before the line went dead.
Ashlyn sat there for a few moments, staring out at the serene landscape of the Academy’s grounds, lost in thought. She couldn’t help but think about the cadets who were currently undergoing their training. They were just kids, really, fresh out of high school, and yet they would soon be asked to fight and possibly die for their planet.
Ashlyn had been in the Reserves since the last war ended more than a decade ago, but she was still kept in the loop regarding military intelligence. She knew that war was never easy, but this time, it felt different. The stakes were higher, the enemy was more powerful, and the outcome was far from certain.
As she made her way out of her office and towards her car, Ashlyn couldn’t help but wonder if she was doing enough to prepare her cadets for the challenges that lay ahead. Were they truly ready for what was coming? Would they be able to hold their own against the enemy?
She shook her head, pushing those thoughts aside. She had a job to do, and she would do it to the best of her abilities. For now, all she could do was wait for Santiago to arrive and hope that his news wasn’t as bad as she feared.
As she drove towards the designated meeting spot, Ashlyn’s mind raced with the possibilities of what Santiago might tell her. She had known him for years, and he had always been an excellent source of information. However, this time, she couldn’t shake the feeling that what he had to say would be something she didn’t want to hear.
When she arrived at the small coffee shop, she spotted Santiago sitting at a corner table, sipping a cup of coffee. He looked up as she approached, and Ashlyn could see the concern etched on his face.
“Ashlyn,” he said, standing up to greet her. “Thanks for coming.”
“What’s going on, Rico?” Ashlyn asked, cutting to the chase.
Santiago took a deep breath before responding, “The situation in the Cassius System has escalated. The enemy has made some significant advances, and our forces are struggling to hold them back.”
Ashlyn felt a knot form in her stomach at Santiago’s words. She had feared as much, but hearing it confirmed made it all the more real.
“What’s the plan?” she asked, hoping that there was some sort of strategy in place.
Santiago shook his head. “At this point, we don’t have one. The government is still in talks about whether or not to send in reinforcements, and in the meantime, our troops are being overrun.”
Ashlyn felt a surge of anger at the thought of her fellow soldiers being left to fend for themselves. “We can’t just sit back and let this happen. What can we do to help?”
Santiago’s expression softened at her words. “I knew I could count on you, Ashlyn. We need to start preparing our own forces. We need to get our cadets ready to fight.”
Ashlyn nodded, feeling a sense of purpose. She knew that this was what she was meant to do. She had always believed in the importance of training the next generation of soldiers, but now, more than ever, it felt like a matter of life and death.
“We’ll start immediately,” she said, determination evident in her voice.
Santiago smiled. “I knew I could count on you.”
As they sat there, planning their next steps, Ashlyn couldn’t help but feel a sense of foreboding. She knew that the road ahead would be difficult, but she was ready to face whatever came her way. She had always been a Marine, and she knew that her duty was to protect her planet and her people.
As she drove back to the Academy, Ashlyn felt a renewed sense of purpose. She knew that the cadets under her command were in good hands and that she would do everything in her power to ensure that they were ready for the challenges that lay ahead.
She knew that the road ahead would be long and difficult, but she also knew that with hard work and dedication, they could emerge victorious. As she looked out at the serene landscape of the Academy’s grounds, she felt a sense of calm wash over her. No matter what the future held, she was ready to face it head-on.
Now, I dare you to read that and think it is anywhere near publication quality. In my mind, there are things out of order, the prose is stilted and some things should be deleted, at least until later, while other parts need to be expanded. I spent about 75 minutes putting the following together based on the original above. Fair warning, I have not reread it, edited it in any form or manner, including spellcheck. But it now “sounds” more like Ashlyn would sound and, I hope, flows a bit better. But it still needs to be fleshed out and edited.
Here you go:
Brigadier General Ashlyn Shaw stood at the window and looked out over her “command”. The Baselon Military Academy, recently renamed to reflect its role in training future officers in not only the Navy and Marines but the Army as well, had been hers for almost five years. She held the ultimate responsibility for training the young men and women in attendance.
In some ways, it was a more difficult command than when she led the Devil Dogs. Then, when she issued orders that might lead to the injury or death of those in her command, the orders were based on real-time intel. Now, decisions made about course work, physical training, range work, simulator work would impact how those cadets responded years down the road. The decisions based upon their training here could lead to their deaths or the deaths of those under their command. It was a heavy burden, one made heavier by Ashlyn’s concern Fuercon was headed toward another war, one it wasn’t prepared for.
One her son would be part of because he was one of those cadets soon to graduate and accept his commission into the Fuerconese Marine Corps.
A soft tap at the door behind her interrupted her thoughts. Turning, Ash smiled slightly. Captain Maria Hernandez, her chief of staff, nodded in response. As she motioned the younger woman inside, Ash returned to her chair behind her currently very cluttered desk. End of the semester as well as the upcoming graduation and commissioning ceremonies meant more work and much more paperwork. Especially since each service branch seemed to want her input on duty assignments for the newly commissioned officers.
“You’re in early, Maria.” She reached for her mug, frowning to find it empty.
“I could say the same for you, ma’am.”
Ash smiled slightly as the younger woman seemed torn for a moment before taking one of the chairs before the desk. In the four months since Hernandez joined her staff, Ash learned the captain suffered from a serious case of not knowing what to do with a CO considered the savior of Fuercon by many. Not that Ash saw herself that way. At least Hernandez had finally relaxed enough that she no longer addressed her only by her rank and no longer walked around with a stick up her butt because she was afraid Ash might write her up for not always having a military bearing. The day might even come when she’d crack a joke and not look like she wanted to find a hole to crawl into afterwards.
“I wanted to try to clear some of this off before classes started.” Ash waved a hand at the desktop. “You?”
Ash nodded. Hernandez’s desk did bear a remarkable resemblance to her own clutter at the moment.
“I believe so.” The captain swiped a finger across her tablet’s screen and studied it for a moment. “We’ve received confirmation from all the dignitaries invited to graduation that they will be in attendance. A few mentioned the need for housing, so I’ve arranged guest quarters for them. You’ll find that as well as their transportation arrangements in your queue.”
“Excellent.” And it was one thing off Ashlyn’s shoulders. “Do you have escorts set for them yet?”
“Preliminary ones, ma’am. I want to meet with cadets Levinson and Shaw this morning about it.”
Ash nodded. The two cadets Hernandez named were the incoming Cadet Commander and the outgoing on. While the final decision on cadet escorts for the dignitaries would lie with Levinson and her office, Jake would have input. It would be interesting to see who the two came up with.
“Yes, ma’am. The grounds crew will put the finishing touches on everything by tomorrow afternoon. Foor Services has confirmed the menu for your reception the night before graduation. The awards have been prepared and, where necessary, delivered so they can be handed out during graduation. The respective branches have also confirmed they have everything they need for the commissioning ceremonies.”
“Which means we double-check our own stock and make sure we have extras in case they are needed.” They were always needed. She learned that during her own days as a cadet at the Academy.
Hernandez actually chuckled. “Ma’am, I think it’s an unwritten rule somewhere that they never bring enough for the commissioning ceremonies. It’s probably listed under ‘adaptability’ or something.”
Before Ash could respond, Hernandez reached up and lightly tapped her earbud. Her brows drew together for a moment. She flicked a quick glance at Ash. Then she apparently made up her mind.
“Hold a moment, sir. I will see if the general is available.” She tapped her earbud again, muting the comm. “Ma’am, Rico Santiago would like a moment of your time.”
Ash frowned slightly. She’d spoken with Santiago the night before. He wouldn’t be contacting her again so soon unless something happened.
“I’ll take the call, Maria. Give me the room.”
Hernandez nodded and climbed to her feet. As she did, she transferred the call to Ashlyn’s desk comm. A moment later, the captain slipped out of the office, the door closing behind her.
“Rico, what’s wrong?” They’d known each other too long to stand on formality now.
“Ash, we need to talk. Sooner is better than later.”
Her stomach did a slow roll and she automatically made the mental transition from the Academy’s commandant to seasoned Marine officer.
“The Cassius System.”
A chill ran down her spine at the mention of the system. For much of her professional life, the system presented a challenge for Fuercon and her allies. Even before the last war, it had been targeted by the Callusians. They invaded and used it as a launching point against other nearby systems. Recently, it had been the target of pirates who, in Ashlyn’s mind, were too well-equipped, too well-trained, and too mission oriented to be simply pirates.
Santiago hesitated a moment. “I can’t go into details right now. But it doesn’t look good, Ash. I really think we need to talk.”
She didn’t have time to leave the Academy but what choice did she have? Telling him to hold on, she checked her schedule. Frowning, she considered what she could rearrange and what she could have Hernandez or someone else handle. A few moments later, she commed Hernandez and gave her the schedule changes she wanted made. Before the younger woman could question her, she ended the comm and once again turned her attention to Santiago.
“All right. You know where to meet me. I’m leaving now.”
She took it for granted he could leave immediately. He wouldn’t have called if he couldn’t. Now, to get away without anyone finding a reason to delay her.
Twenty minutes later, she approached a building near the government’s security complex. Nothing about its outer façade drew undue attention to it. Like so many other buildings in the area, it bore all the hallmarks of an office building, inhabited by worker drones all day and cleaning staff at night. The reality was far from that.
On the second floor, she was stopped by security. While one of them checked her ID, the other scanned her for weapons and contraband. Once satisfied, he handed her a visitors badge and informed Santiago of her arrival. A few minutes later, the former military intelligence chief appeared, his hand extended in greeting.
“Okay, Rico, what’s going on?”
The door slid shut behind her and she felt as much as heard the sound dampeners activating. No one would be able to enter or overhear their conversation until the dampeners were deactivated.
Santiago took a deep breath before responding. “The situation in the Cassius System looks to be escalating. I’ve received reports of half a dozen more attacks. They’re escalating, Ash. Two of those attacks were against space stations and preliminary reports include a list of people who disappeared during the attacks.”
She closed her eyes and considered what he said. As she did, she didn’t like the implications. There was much more to what was happening there than they knew—and that put them behind the curve, a place she did not like being.
“Have the powers-that-be decided on a response?”
He shook his head. Before she could object, he held up a hand to stop her. “Right now, any response we want to make has to be weighed very carefully. The system government hasn’t asked for assistance from Fuercon or any of our allies. They also haven’t shared much information about what’s happening.”
She bit off a curse and paced the length of the room. This bore too close a resemblance to the start of the last war for her liking. At least this time she wasn’t sitting in a cell on a penal colony as everything went to hell in the proverbial handbasket. Not that being grounded was much better.
“I assume you’re telling me this to see if I know anything about what’s going on.”
“All I know is what I’ve heard from the media and what you’ve told me.” And that wasn’t nearly enough. “But I still have some contacts I can reach out to.”
“All right. I’ll let you know what they say.” If they have anything to tell her. “Now, a question. Are you telling me this as the government’s assistant Intel chief or as the military’s intel chief?”
His answer would tell her a great deal.
“Right now, as a concerned citizen who happens to have information the average person doesn’t.”
She leaned against the wall and looked at him, her head cocked to one side. Most people would accept his answer without question. But she knew him. He’d trained her when she was only a couple of years out of the Academy. They’d been friends since then. So she knew he was skirting the question, just as she knew he wouldn’t answer, even if she asked directly.
“All right. As one concerned citizen to another, I’ll keep my ear to the ground.”
And have a conversation with her mother, who now served in the Commandant of the Marine Corps’ office, along with several others, including her own senior non-com. If anyone knew what was going on, it would be Sgt. Major Edita Anisimova.
“Thanks, Ash. I don’t need to tell you how worried some of us are.”
She nodded, her expression grim. Everything he’d said about the latest attacks reminded her of the Callusians in the last war. It also reminded her of her warnings to the powers-that-be at the time the war ended, both political and military, that they had not managed to stop all the enemy. There were still ships unaccounted for. It would be foolish to think they knew every planet the enemy took control of. Until each of those were hunted down, the danger of the enemy finding a way to regroup and rearm remained.
The only question she had was if Cassius Prime was once again facing a Callusian invasion or if there was a new player in the game, one they didn’t know yet.
And that latter possibility worried her more than she wanted to admit.
The original by ChatGPT came in at 1127 words. My updated version (okay, call it like it is, rewritten version) weighs in at 1865 words. Using the compare function in Word, it is obvious there is very little of the original ChatGPT document left in the version I posted here.
So, basically, I took a general idea from ChatGPT, one that would work in the universe of the Honor & Duty series, and ran with it, adapting it as I felt it needed to be to fit the series and what I see happening down the road.
What do you think? Interested in seeing more–and not from ChatGPT but from me? Or maybe you want to see the ChatGPT version too. Let me know.
What struck me was, while the framework was mostly the same, none of the dialogue or descriptions were. Also, for whatever reason the ChatGPT version tripped my ‘skim’ mode pretty much immediately, while the revised version did not.
I did notice you replaced the coffee shop with a secure location. The coffee shop had struck me as an off choice for that sort of conversation too.
I did, however, appreciate it’s call that the politicians were going to fritter around indecisively until the choice to act was taken out of their hands. That was just hilariously on point.
I agree with your assessment: it is a useful and potentially powerful brainstorming tool, but not up to being a writer at this point. I can definitely see asking it things like “what steps could someone take to infiltrate a slave revolt?” and using that to stage the scenes, but asking to write the infiltration itself it’s bridge to far.
I agree. Mind you, I’ve only been playing with it for a few hours a day this week. So I am still a novice. But I just don’t see how it can do the nuance needed for a good book or story. Add that to my concerns about what steps Amazon and the other storefronts might do to limit the use AI-generated work and it isn’t worth it to do use it as more than a tool to brainstorm an idea or to get help with titles, etc.
I’m not a writer, so I might miss something, but from what I’m seeing from your experiments, I fail to find it so useful. You are almost giving the AI all the points of where do you want the story headed, so you already have the story in your head, the main points. By rewriting the output completely you are doing the work you already had in your head, how much different the output would have been if you just wrote the piece?. To produce a good output from the AI, you need to almost tell it what to produce, and to make it less flat and give it a voice, you need to rewrite it completely, that is working twice from my point of view.
Now, if you could train it with your previous work, maybe it could produce something useful without so extensive prompts, but that opens another can of worms, to be able to do that without opening your work to the public in some way or another, that would mean having your own private installation of ChatGPT, with the public algorithms trained but then “personalized” in some way with your work so that personalization doesn’t reach the public algorithms. Probably that is something you already can do or companies are working on it if that is not already possible, but again, as the anti-plagiarism tools, that is something you’ll have to pay for, and probably a large sum given how costly in computer power this technology is, for now, to get customers, the betas are quite open, but once they get a good base of users willing to pay, this AIs are going to be a subscription model, and probably a costly one. At least the good ones.
As for using it to help with titles and blurbs… Those need a hook, specially blurbs, and the output is so flat and predictable that if you have trouble with those, you will already be producing something in the same level as the AI.
I don’t know, just my thoughts, and as I’m not a writer they might not be useful at all.