Super Charge Your Writing with these AI Writing Tools

Super Charge Your Writing with these AI Writing Tools

AI, the Elephant in the Room

Many writers are terrified of artificial intelligence (AI) because they think it’s going to replace them. When ​I talked about ChatGPT​ last year, I said I am a techno optimist (coined by ​Joanna Penn​.) Writing AI will not replace writers. Currently, you can’t press a button and generate a screenplay or novel. That day may come, but it is not where we are now. And even when it does, I don’t believe that computers will ever be as creative as human beings. In fact, books that are created by humans may sell at a premium in the near future. Tickets for movies written by humans may cost more. Even as we use these tools, as creators, we must double down on our humanity.

Generative AI relies on the creativity of the person asking the questions (which are called prompts.) If you don’t ask creative questions, you do not get creative answers. It is a tool to level up your creativity and writing. You can use it to brainstorm, analyze, and help you over writers’ block. And often the prose that you get needs editing.

If you haven’t tried AI, I strongly urge you to experiment with it. Play is the operative word here because it is fun. Brainstorming and storytelling, creating new worlds and characters is a blast! That is why we do it.

Here are two recent podcasts that do a fantastic job explaining how AI works and how writers can use it to their advantage.

Best Description of How AI Works

From The Author Wheel Podcast hosted by Greta Boris and Megan Haskell with guest Cameron Sutter

Cameron is a writer and software developer who created ​Plottr ​so he understands both the technical and the creative.

You can listen or read the show notes ​here​.

The Take Aways

1. What Plottr Is: Plottr is a visual tool designed to assist writers in planning and organizing their stories.

2. What LLM (Large Language Model) Is: LLMs are AI systems capable of understanding and generating human-like text. These models are trained on vast datasets of language, allowing them to grasp nuances in language, context, and even style. Their predictive capabilities enable them to complete sentences, paragraphs, or entire stories based on the instructions they receive. LLMs do not plagiarize other people’s writing. They are outputting original material based on what they learned about language from everything they have “read.”

3. Using Generative AI in Writing: The episode explores how writers can leverage AI tools like LLMs to enhance their creativity and productivity. This includes aspects like overcoming writer’s block, generating ideas, and refining their storytelling techniques.

What Authors Need to Know About AI

From Thomas Umstattd Jr. on The Novel Marketing Podcast.

You can listen or read the blog post ​here​.

The Take Aways

1. From the printing press to the word processor to digital books, writers have always been terrified that technology will ruin writing.

2. Writers can use AI tools to brainstorm, plot and outline, edit, analyze, and transcribe.

3. AI is not evil; people are. Tools can be used for good or bad.

The AI Writing Summit

This week (April 8 -12) is the online ​AI Writing Summit​ with workshops teaching how to supercharge your writing with AI. It is free to watch live but since the week is almost over, you can purchase the videos for $97.

AI Writing Tools

Here are the most popular writing tools. While some offer free versions, the paid ones are significantly better and worth the money. Most are monthly subscriptions, so it is easy to try for a month or two and then sample another one. Don’t forget that all of these tools count as business expenses for your taxes.

Both ChatGPT4 and Claude.ai can significantly aid a creative writer by offering real-time suggestions, helping to overcome writer’s block, generating ideas for plots or characters, and providing feedback on written content. These tools can enhance a writer’s creativity and productivity.

​ChatGPT4 ​– $20 a month

​Claude Pro​ – $20 a month

The benefit of Claude is that you can upload your entire novel or screenplay. Then you can ask Claude to perform a variety of tasks, such as generating ideas for plot development, creating character dialogues, suggesting improvements, or offering feedback on different aspects of your story. Claude can write loglines, book blurbs, podcast pitches and other marketing materials.

​Plottr​ – $149/$299 lifetime

Helps you visually outline your story using common story structures like the Hero’s Journey and Save the Cat. Plottr helps you keep track of all the details, writing a story bible as you go. It has tools to plan a series.

​Subtxt ​– $25/$45/$95 a month

Helps writers build a solid narrative framework, ensuring story elements are well-connected. Assists in creating detailed and consistent character arcs. Offers insights into the thematic underpinnings of a story. Generates plot ideas to help overcome writer’s block. Checks for narrative and character consistency throughout the story.

​Sudowrite ​– $10/$22/$44

Sudowrite is an AI assistant for creative writers. Think of it as a sparring partner who helps you edit your book, create new scenes, and generate plot ideas. Sudowrite can help you write your next sentence or plot point, and it can give you language to describe elements of your story. The describe feature, which creates descriptions using all five senses. It also has a shrink feature, which writes a synopsis.

​ProWriting Aid​ – $90/$108 a year

For proofreading and copy editing.

​Marlowe​ (Authors.ai) – free/$29.95 a month

For novelists, Marlowe generates a 30-page report about your book. It analyzes: emotions, pacing, overused phrases, frequency of adverbs and adjectives, clichés, similar books, dialogue to narrative ratio.

AI Image Tools

​Dalle​ & ​Midjourney​

As a writer, it is fun to create images of your characters, worlds, or climatic scenes for inspiration and marketing. These tools are much easier to use now because you can use regular words instead of prompts full of lingo. Dalle is now connected to ChatGPT, ​Bing’s CoPilot​ (powered by ChatGPT & Dalle), and ​Canva ​(has loads of AI tools).

I generated in Canva the picture for this blog. I used the prompt happy cartoon elephant typing on a computer.


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Riding the Creative Rollercoaster: Strategies for Thriving Amidst Change

Riding the Creative Rollercoaster: Strategies for Thriving Amidst Change

Everyone knows that the one constant in life is change, but that doesn’t make change any easier. The last few years in the creative industries have been a rollercoaster of change. Not fun.

In the entertainment industry, the writers were fighting with the agents and managers. Then we had COVID shut down. Then there were the writers and actors strikes. And now as the industry tries to figure out the economics of streaming, people have been laid off, projects cancelled, and completed movies shelved.

The publishing industry is going through its own growing pains with Amazon changing keywords and Kindle Unlimited payouts. People’s income has gone down overnight.

Life as a creative always ebbs and flows. And there is a lot we can’t control. When times are tough, the only thing you can do is focus on what you can control – yourself.

Here are some things you can do.

Keep Creating

As a writer, keep writing. The more you write, the more IP you have. The more IP you have, the more you have to sell and the more opportunities you get.

The more you write, the more your writing improves. Double down on your craft. Read a book. Take a class. Form a writers group.

As an executive, keep creating by partnering with writers and directors whose work you love. Look for and develop projects. This creative work will bring opportunities, growing your network. A new project gives you a reason to reach out to people. And it will keep your story brain humming.

Build Your Network

As always, who you know plays an important part in your career growth. Nurture your existing relationships by seeing people in person. It’s time to book breakfast, lunch, drinks, and dinner! ​Meet new people at networking events​. You probably have a favorite event where you know everyone. Join new groups to expand your network. Or start your own.

If you are in Los Angeles, Dave Cain and Nick Harron have restarted my networking mixer for kids entertainment, Ready Set Go. I will host (mostly) from Texas. If you would like to get on the list for invitations, click ​here​.

Explore New Revenue Streams

With uncertainty in the air, now is the perfect time to think outside of the box of ways you can expand your income. Start with your projects. As a creator, are there ways you can expand and repurpose your ideas? Maybe your favorite TV series project could become a tabletop game or a comic book.

As an executive, can you use your expertise in a new way to earn some extra money? One way to use your experience is to share what you know. Teach a class (either in person or online.) Or write a how to book.

Practice Resilience

While growing our careers, we have to learn how to be our own cheerleaders. Persevering is hard even for the most upbeat person. The only way through the hard times is forward.

A reminder: We know how to be resilient. You have endured many things in the past, from career upsets to family tragedies, and you are still here.

Even if you’re feeling unable to handle your latest challenge, you have handled other challenges before. You’ve got this. Keep creating; keep telling stories. Who knows what wonderful experience is waiting for you in the next bend in your road.

When you get bad news, go to the zoo.

Author Kevin Tumlinson talks about how ​he chooses joy over despair​.


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How to Have a Poker Face

How to Have a Poker Face

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how our weaknesses are also our greatest strengths, if you flip your perception around. I’ve always thought that it’s a giant weakness that I do not have a poker face. I’m learning how to play mahjong and I can’t keep from smiling when I draw that perfect tile.

One look at me in a discussion and you know what I’m thinking. When I’m working with clients, I always have to tell them this is my thinking face while I’m working out a story problem on the fly so that they don’t interpret it as dislike.

I just decided that my lack of a poker face is a superpower. In an age where everyone puts their fake face forward on Instagram and over Zoom, being authentic builds trust. With me, you know what you’re getting. My enthusiasm is unmistakable.

Like all strengths and weaknesses, I have to learn to work it to the best advantage. It is not strategic to let everyone know what you are thinking and feeling all the time. (Especially in a corporate environment.) If you’re an open book like me, here are three ways to guard your reactions.

1. Smile while you are listening and talking. Smiling conveys intentional listening. It is hard to roll your eyes or snort in disgust when you’re smiling.

2. Take notes. If you are writing or typing, you are looking down, making your expression harder to read.

3. If you are on video and the meeting is challenging, turn off your camera. Then you can roll your eyes all you want.

What weakness can you turn into a strength at work? And if you have more hints about how not to have a poker face, I would love to hear them.


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How Staying Connected Fuels Your Creative Career

How Staying Connected Fuels Your Creative Career

A couple of days ago, I called to make an appointment with my manicurist and the woman who answered the phone told me they had fired Vicki. I felt bad for Vicki. My second thought was she doesn’t have my phone number, so she can’t let me know where she ends up. I would have been happy to follow her to her next salon and help her build her business.

How does the plight of my raggedy nails apply to your creative career?

1. You want to be able to talk directly to your fans to let them know where you are and what you’re doing, like where they can see your latest movie or buy your latest book.

2. You want the people who could hire you to be able to find you easily even if you move jobs or cities.

How do you stay connected with your fans and potential employers?

1. Email

2. LinkedIn

3. Your website

Email

You need e-mail addresses so you can send updates when you have good news, like a book or starting a new job. If you build a large following on any social media without capturing e-mail addresses, you do not have a way to contact your fans if the social media platform goes down or closes your account. (LinkedIn is the exception and we’ll get to that in a minute.)

It is easy to gather friends’ and coworkers’ e-mail addresses. But how do you get e-mail addresses for people that are following you on social media? By asking them to sign up for your newsletter.

You can’t use Gmail or Outlook to send out mass emails. You will need an email marketing service to send your newsletter. There are many services out there to choose from. I use and recommend ​ConvertKit​. ConvertKit and MailerLite both have free plans to until you reach a thousand subscribers. Substack is always free. All of these choices let you write and schedule emails ahead of time.

You can send a monthly email or only reach out when you have something to share. Email is the easiest way to reach people and build connections.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the first places people go when they have positions (even creative ones) to fill. Make sure that your profile is up to date and professional. Check out ​LinkedIn for Creatives​ for suggestions. Anytime you have a professional win, be sure to post it here. When other people share their good news, congratulate them. Make it a habit to connect on LinkedIn with everyone you work with, from assistants to executives.

Check your LinkedIn messages at least twice a week. You never know who might reach out!

Your Website

If you haven’t gotten around to building a website or yours needs updating, do it now. You want your professional accomplishments and how to reach you to come up when someone googles you. Check out ​How to Build Your Own Website Even if You’re Not Techie​.

The key is to ​be easy to find​ for your fans, customers, and future employers.


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Good News or Bad News on the Microstory Rollercoaster

Good News or Bad News on the Microstory Rollercoaster

A couple of weeks ago, I came across this ​microstory ​on Instagram. I couldn’t get it out of my mind and wished that I had saved it so I could share it with you. So, I went on an Internet hunt and found it!

Read the original on Tumblr

As the comment below says, this microstory takes you on a rollercoaster blockbuster ride. It is short but compelling, effective and memorable. What makes it so successful?

The Unusual Format

The good news/bad news style of this story pulls you back and forth between happiness and sympathy for the narrator, keeping you on the edge of your seat. You want to know what happens and hope that the narrator ends on good news.

Original Tone

The good news/bad news style of storytelling is original and funny. The tone continues with the Tragic Backstory capitalized with a trademark symbol, and a detailed list of why he is not cool.

Short and Sweet

While this story is only 121 words, it is filled with specific and clever details. It has a cute girl, tragic backstory, lock picking, unicycles, and a fawn. These details pack a punch!

All the Feels

These details are full of emotion. ​Emotion is the engine​ that drives your story. You want to put your characters through lots of emotion to make your audience feel lots of emotion. And we feel it here. He was almost a hero by unlocking the door, but he had showed his true self too many times before to be the cool guy. His emotions of wanting to get the girl, fit in, and be extraordinary are all things everyone feels. We are rooting for this guy even if he has fallen out of several trees.

Questions

A good story doesn’t wrap everything up in a bow. It leaves the reader with questions that linger long after the story has finished. These questions are what kept me thinking about this one for weeks after I read it. How has he fallen out of more than one tree? Why did he see a tiny fawn? What happened to it? What kind of workplace is this, anyway? And most importantly, does he ever go on that date with Maggie? Too bad this guy isn’t a novelist because I would buy his book.

Let this story inspire you!

1. When you’re working on ​your project cocktail pitches​. This is a great example of the emotion and intrigue you can accomplish with just a few words.

2. What crazy thing happened to you recently that you can turn into a story? Use it ​as an icebreaker​ instead of small talk when you meet someone new. Or as a scene in a new project.

3. Try writing something in the good news/bad news format.


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