You may have seen my blog a while ago detailing how, in a fit of writer’s block, I decided my writing was so terrible that ChatGPT must surely be able to do better. This was a super depressing thought, but it begged a question: can AI write fiction? So, I put the theory to the test. I tasked ChatGPT with penning a Romance Novel and the result was a rather syrupy tale named Blossoms Of Redemption. If you missed the first chapter, you can read it here. But I thought it was about time I shared chapter 2, in which ChatGPT literally foreshadows future events with the introduction of Evelyn and much talk of shadows and a pending love triangle. 

I simply told it to write the next chapter. Here’s what it came up with…

Chapter 2: Unveiling Shadows

The days at Northridge High School seemed to blend together as I settled into my role as the school librarian. The library buzzed with activity, students flocking in during their lunch breaks or after school, seeking refuge within the pages of books. I revelled in the joy of seeing young minds immersed in stories, their imaginations taking flight.

Amidst the daily chaos, I often found my gaze wandering towards Ethan Collins. He was a constant presence, his vibrant personality leaving an indelible mark on the school. The way he effortlessly commanded attention in the classroom, the way his eyes sparkled when he discussed literature—I couldn’t help but be drawn to him, despite the lingering doubts that clouded my mind.

One afternoon, as I arranged a display of new releases, I noticed a familiar figure approaching the library. It was Ethan, his stride purposeful, and his eyes locked onto a stack of papers clutched in his hand. His brows were furrowed, and I couldn’t help but wonder what had caught his attention so intently.

“Ethan,” I called out, my voice filled with curiosity. “What has captured your interest so fiercely?”

Startled, he looked up and met my gaze, a faint blush creeping onto his cheeks. “Ah, Charlotte,” he said, a sheepish smile tugging at his lips. “I was just lost in thought, going through these essays my students turned in. They never cease to surprise me.”

Intrigued, I stepped closer, peering at the pages. “May I take a look? Perhaps I can offer some insights from a librarian’s perspective.”

Ethan hesitated for a moment before extending the papers towards me. “I’d appreciate that. Your fresh perspective might shed some light on these essays.”

As I skimmed through the essays, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the level of creativity and passion displayed by Ethan’s students. Their words painted vivid pictures and evoked emotions I had almost forgotten. It was clear that Ethan had left a profound impact on their writing abilities, pushing them to explore the depths of their imaginations.

“These are remarkable,” I murmured, genuinely impressed. “Your teaching methods have certainly inspired your students.”

A hint of pride glimmered in Ethan’s eyes as he watched me. “Thank you, Charlotte. It’s always rewarding to see them grow and discover their potential.”

Our conversation flowed effortlessly, as if we were two halves of a puzzle fitting together. Time seemed to slip away as we discussed literature, shared our favourite authors, and debated the merits of different writing styles. In that moment, the doubts and reservations that had clouded my mind began to fade, replaced by an exhilarating sense of camaraderie.

But just as I started to let my guard down, a voice pierced through the intimate bubble we had formed. “Ethan, there you are!”

I turned to see a woman standing at the entrance of the library, her voice dripping with annoyance. She was stunningly beautiful, with flowing auburn hair and an air of confidence that demanded attention. Her eyes darted between Ethan and me, curiosity mixed with a flicker of possessiveness.

“Evelyn,” Ethan greeted her, his tone polite yet guarded. “What brings you here?”

“I’ve been looking for you everywhere,” she replied, her gaze narrowing. “We have that meeting in five minutes, remember?”

Ethan’s expression tightened, and he glanced apologetically at me. “I’m sorry, Charlotte. Duty calls. We’ll have to continue this conversation another time.”

As they walked away, a sense of unease settled in the pit of my stomach. Who was this woman, and what kind of connection did she have with Ethan? The enigma surrounding him only deepened, and I found myself torn between the allure of our connection and the shadows that lingered beneath the surface.

Little did I know that the unveiling of these shadows would take me deeper into a love triangle, where desires would clash, and loyalties would be tested. The path to true love never did run smooth, and as I embarked on this unexpected journey, I couldn’t help but wonder if our connection was destined for a heart-warming embrace or a heart-breaking tragedy.

Can AI Write Fiction?

I will admit to being genuinely concerned when I embarked on this endeavour,  that it would transpire AI was genuinely capable of writing better than me. While the exercise turned into a bit of a joke (at least on my end) I do feel it’s useful to reflect the distinct difference in narrative style that AI brings to the table compared to human writers. This chapter showcases some limitations and peculiarities in AI-driven storytelling. Namely…

“Telling” Rather Than “Showing”

A recurring issue in this chapter is the AI’s inclination towards ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing’. The narrative often explicitly states the characters’ emotions and thoughts, like “I couldn’t help but be drawn to him” or “a sense of unease settled in the pit of my stomach”. This approach, while straightforward, lacks the subtlety and depth that ‘showing’ through actions, dialogue, and character interactions can provide. It leads to a narrative that tells us about the characters rather than letting us experience their world through their actions and interactions.

Literal Interpretation of Foreshadowing

The AI seems to have taken a quite literal approach to foreshadowing. Instead of subtly hinting at future events in a way that becomes clear only in hindsight, the AI incorporates actual shadows and darkness into the narrative. While metaphorical language can enrich a story, this literal approach can seem heavy-handed and diminishes the narrative’s subtlety. Effective foreshadowing is like planting seeds that only bloom (pun intended!) fully later in the story, but here, it’s more like a signpost clearly pointing to what’s ahead.

Human Emotion and Interaction

This chapter also reveals a limitation of AI in capturing the nuances of human emotion and interaction. The conversations and internal monologues sometimes lack the complexity and unpredictability inherent in real human interactions. AI can mimic patterns of speech or typical emotional responses, but it struggles to replicate the depth and inconsistency that characterize real human conversations and relationships.

Literal and Explicit Love Triangle Setup

The AI’s approach to setting up the love triangle is very on-the-nose. Instead of allowing the relationships and tensions to develop organically, the chapter ends with an explicit statement about heading into a love triangle. This method lacks the subtlety and build-up that usually make love triangles in literature intriguing and emotionally charged.

Overall Narrative Cohesion

While the AI manages to maintain a coherent narrative, it sometimes misses opportunities to weave more complex emotional layers and character dynamics into the story. The narrative can feel a bit linear and predictable, lacking the ebb and flow that comes from deeper character development and unexpected plot twists.

So, Can AI Write Fiction? 

While ChatGPT demonstrates an impressive ability to generate coherent and structured narratives, this chapter of Blossoms Of Redemption highlights the challenges AI faces in replicating the nuanced storytelling and emotional depth that human authors naturally bring to their writing. The AI’s approach to ‘telling’ over ‘showing’, its literal interpretation of literary devices like foreshadowing, and its straightforward handling of complex human emotions and interactions, all point to areas where AI-written fiction still has room to grow and evolve.