I was talking to one of my brothers and his family recently and learned that his baby daughter’s first words were “Alexa-stop!”
While working at Intel, I learned a lot about AI (artificial intelligence) and how computers were able to learn and do many tasks better than humans. When I went to the International Writing Conference in China a few years ago, I went to a popular bookstore in Shanghai and found an AI device to help readers discover the next book to read. Just by standing in front of the screen, it analyzes you and then offers up reading suggestions that are statistically likely to be interesting to you. Since I don’t know Chinese, I didn’t really understand its recommendations!
AI isn’t just Alexa picking a song to listen to. It impacts readers through advanced algorithms that help suggest books you may like to read based on other people with the same interests as you. But can AI be applied to the craft of writing itself?
Actually, the answer is yes.
Last year, I joined with many other indy authors (including a few friends of mine) to become a founding author at Authors AI after I learned about the research of Matt Jockers, a professor at Washington Statue University. He’s one of the founders of Authors AI and is using a tool he’s invented to help writers (both new authors and bestselling authors) quick analyze a manuscript for all the ingredients that make a bestseller.
I’ve had several of my books analyzed (like The Queen’s Poisoner, The Killing Fog, The Wretched of Muirwood, and Storm Glass). Each book is different and the results were not the same. It’s not a cookie-cutter report but an analysis of pacing, narrative arc, rhythm, characters, dialogue vs narrative, explicit language, readability and other indicators as well. A human editor trying to provide this level of feedback would require hours and hours, not just reading the book but analyzing it. But the AI tool (named Marlowe) can do all of it in less than 60 minutes and provide a custom 25-page report.
Along with other bestselling founding authors, I’ve contributed some of my writing to help Marlowe get it right. Each manuscript that gets uploaded into the tool adds to its collective wisdom.
Now don’t worry, Authors AI isn’t going to replace writers! I think my job is safe. What I do think is it’s going to help improve the learning curve for the craft by providing a much faster feedback cycle than what you’d get asking all your friends for advice. Many of us who have been part of it for a while have been using the feedback to analyze our early novel drafts. I can also see it possibly being a really helpful tool for acquisition editors, agents, and publishers to get through the slush pile faster.
The Authors AI website launched this week. If you’re a writer yourself or interested about the future of technology and writing, stop by their website and have a look at sample reports for The Handmaid’s Tale, Little Women, or The Firm.
Welcome to the future! (The one without Bill & Ted…)