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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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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Use Backstory Without Boring Your Readers!

Use Backstory Without Boring Your Readers!

Last week I was reading a novel, and the author had pages and pages explaining the characters’ backstories from their horrible childhoods to their abusive relationships. The poor guy desperately needed an editor. Needless to say, I didn’t finish the book.

Whether you’re writing a screenplay or a novel, backstory is always challenging. In real life, people don’t blurt out their deepest, darkest secrets. And having the characters talk about their (usually) tortured past is hard to make organic.

Backstory as a Mystery

The key to revealing backstory is to think about it like a mystery.

Let your characters talk about their past in a way that feels like they’re dancing around each other’s secrets. It’s not about stating facts (“When I was 12, I moved to the city”). Instead, make it unusual and emotional. (“The first time I saw a skyscraper, I thought it was going to eat me up”).

Figuring out the heart of your characters is unraveling a mystery, captivating the audience. This gradual unveiling, where the backstory emerges in drips and drabs, transforms passive viewers or readers into active detectives, piecing together the puzzle of who a character truly is and why they do what they do.

How to be Mysterious

The characters’ past directly influence their present situation. As the story unfolds, the reasons behind their actions become clearer, weaving backstory into the story organically. This technique not only hooks the reader but also builds curiosity around the character’s history.

Create Intrigue: Just like a good mystery, a character’s backstory should spark questions. Why is the character afraid of commitment? What led them to take this journey? These questions drive the story forward, as each revealed detail adds another layer.

Reveal Through Action and Reaction: Characters don’t need to verbalize their past for it to influence their present. How they react to situations, make decisions, and interact with others hint at their backstory. A character who flinches at a loud noise or averts their gaze at the mention of a place provides clues to their past.

Pace the Reveal: By ​revealing backstory gradually​, you create a sense of progression and discovery. Each piece of the puzzle should come when it has the most emotional impact or relevance to the story’s current events. This keeps the audience on their toes, eager to learn more.

Use Misdirection: Not all clues have to point to the truth. Misdirection can significantly influence how backstory is revealed. A character’s actions or statements might lead the audience to make assumptions about their past, which are later turned on their head as new information comes to light.

Other Characters: Their relationships, conversations, and conflicts with the main character can bring past secrets to the surface. An old friend or a new adversary might mention events or traits from the past, providing key pieces of the backstory mystery with no need of direct exposition.

The goal is to reveal backstory like peeling an onion, layer by layer, rather than dumping information all at once. Keep your audience guessing. Keep your story flowing with your characters as fascinating puzzles waiting to be solved.

In both screenplays and novels, this technique requires a delicate balance of withholding and revealing information. It challenges you as the creator to think strategically about what to reveal, when to reveal it, and how it impacts the overall story. The result? A story that lingers in the minds and hearts of your audience long after the last piece of the puzzle is solved.


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Bickering to Bliss: The Enemies to Lovers Trope

Bickering to Bliss: The Enemies to Lovers Trope

Last week, week talked about ​everyone’s favorite love story​, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The novel is one of the earliest and most iconic examples of the enemies to lovers trope. This is such a popular ​trope ​that I wanted to talk a bit more about it.

There’s just something about watching two characters go from “I can’t stand the sight of you” to “I can’t live without you” that grabs us, hook, line and sinker.

Why We Can’t Get Enough of Enemies to Lovers

Dramatic Tension and Conflict: This trope is like the rollercoaster you’re scared to ride but can’t resist. The ups and downs, the twists and turns of characters moving from conflict to love, keep us on the edge of our seats. It’s this tension and eventual resolution that make the story so gripping.

Character Growth: Watching characters evolve from enemies to lovers is like witnessing a caterpillar transform into a butterfly. This growth is deeply satisfying, as it’s a journey not just of love, but of self-discovery.

Chemistry and Banter: The witty exchanges and fiery debates between the characters serve as a prelude to love, showcasing a connection that’s as intellectual as it is emotional. This banter is often the highlight for audiences, showcasing the characters’ compatibility beyond their initial animosity.

Theme of Reconciliation: This trope teaches us that love can bridge divides, heal old wounds, and overcome prejudices. It’s a hopeful reminder that understanding and empathy can transform even the staunchest enemies into allies, or better yet, lovers.

Variations of the Trope (Which are other Tropes)

🥇 Competitors to Lovers: Characters may start as rivals in professional settings, sports, or academics, where competition gives way to love. You’ve Got Mail (1998) Two bookstore owners who are business rivals by day but unknowingly fall in love with each other over the internet. This is a remake of The Shop Around the Corner (1940).

Another example is The Hating Game (2021) Based on the bestselling novel by Sally Thorne. There is intense rivalry and sexual tension between two executive assistants competing for the same promotion, which eventually leads to love.

💻 Forced to Work Together: Two people who dislike each other are forced to work together, falling in love in the process. The Cutting Edge (1992) An uptight figure skater and down to earth hockey player become figure skating partners and make it to the Olympics, falling in love.

💍Fake Engagement/Relationship: The Proposal (2009) An uptight book editor and her assistant have a fake engagement so she can stay in the country. Their initial employer-employee hostility turns into love.

💞 Second Chance Romance: Two former lovers, who parted on bad terms, fight and quip their way to falling back in love. In His Girl Friday (1940) a cunning newspaper editor uses every trick in the book to keep his ex-wife and star reporter from remarrying, leading to a series of comedic and romantic misadventures that reignite their passion.

The enemies to lovers trope endures because it mirrors the complexity and unpredictability of real-life relationships, reminding us that love often comes from the most unexpected places. Here’s to the lovers who started off as enemies; may their journeys continue to inspire and entertain us for years to come!


Last year we talked about love in stories in honor of Valentine’s Day. In case you missed them:


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The Secret of Pride & Prejudice’s Timeless Appeal

The Secret of Pride & Prejudice’s Timeless Appeal

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is one of the most popular love stories of all time, a masterpiece beloved for generations. Austen’s novel is a dazzling kaleidoscope of tropes, each one masterfully woven into a narrative that feels as fresh and relevant today as it did in the early 19th century. So, grab your favorite cup of tea, and let’s talk tropes.

1. Enemies to Lovers 💕

Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy’s relationship is one of the most celebrated and well-loved examples of enemies to lovers. It’s the main through line in Pride and Prejudice.

Austen masterfully uses their initial misunderstandings and prejudices as a basis for their eventual growth and mutual respect, setting a high standard for the trope in romantic literature. Her novel has contributed to the popularity and enduring appeal of enemies to lovers in modern storytelling.

Who doesn’t swoon over the electrifying journey from mutual disdain to deep affection?

2. The Marriage Plot 💍

At its heart, Pride and Prejudice is the epitome of the marriage plot trope, which focuses on the courtship and ultimate marriage of the protagonist. The four couples are examples of different versions of marriage. Elizabeth & Darcy: true love, Jane & Bingley: love at first sight, Charlotte & Mr. Collins: marriage of convenience, Lydia & Wickham: hasty marriage.

3. Cinderella 🏰

Poor Eliza (whose family will lose their estate because of inheritance laws) falls in love with the wealthy Mr. Darcy.

4. The Misunderstood Hero 😌

Mr. Darcy initially comes off proud and aloof, earning Elizabeth’s disdain. However, as the story unfolds, we discover his true character, marked by loyalty, generosity, and integrity.

5. The Witty Heroine 🎀

Elizabeth Bennet stars as the witty heroine, a trope that celebrates intelligence, humor, and independence. Her sharp wit and spirited nature captivate Mr. Darcy.

6. Love at First Sight 👀

Jane and Mr. Bingley fall in love at first sight, showcasing an immediate mutual attraction that faces societal obstacles.

7. The Fast vs. Slow Love 🥂

Austen contrasts the idealistic view of love, as seen in Jane and Mr. Bingley’s instantaneous attraction, with the more realistic, slow-burning love that develops between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.

8. Marriage of Convenience 💵

Choosing to marry Mr. Collins for security rather than love, Charlotte embodies pragmatism and the societal pressures faced by women of her age and station.

9. The Eccentric Family 🏡

The Bennet family, with its large personalities, showcases the trope of a big crazy family. Each Bennet sister represents different responses to the era’s marriage market, from Lydia’s impulsiveness to Jane’s sweetness and Elizabeth’s discerning nature.

10. The Scandal 🚨

The trope of scandal is usually an obstacle to love. Lydia’s elopement with Wickham endangers the Bennet family’s social standing and catalyzes Darcy’s intervention, revealing his deep feelings for Elizabeth.

11. The Seducer 🌹

Wickham embodies the seducer trope, not just in his romantic entanglements but how he manipulates social situations to his advantage.

How can you use these tropes to weave some romance into your stories?


Inspiration for this Newsletter

This ​breakdown of the tropes​ in Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus, my favorite book I read last year. FYI, it’s never too late. This is her first book, and she is 65.

This month in honor of Valentine’s Day, the Hallmark Channel is doing ​Loveuary with Jane Austen​. They have three new Pride and Prejudice themed movies. I am in awe of how Pride and Prejudice continues to inspire new versions two hundred years after its publication.


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Write Your Future! Unleashing the Power of Future-Driven Creativity

Write Your Future! Unleashing the Power of Future-Driven Creativity

As we head into the new year, let’s talk about a powerful new mindset that will supercharge your 2024. The concept of making choices from the perspective of Future You from ​Benjamin Hardy​‘s book Personality Isn’t Permanent.​

The two main parts of this concept are:

  1. Vision-Driven Choices: Instead of making decisions based on current preferences, emotions, or circumstances, make choices that align with who you want to be in the future – your desired future self. Ask what your future self would do and make decisions that reflect that.
  2. ​Long-Term Thinking​: Consider how today’s choices will affect your future. Prioritize actions that bring you closer to your future goals.

Embracing Your Future You in Your Daily Writing Routine

Let’s explore how thinking about your future self can invigorate and guide your writing journey.

1. Define Your Future Writer Self

Picture who you want to be as a writer. What kind of stories do you want to tell? What voice do you wish to develop? Make it as concrete as possible. Maybe your future self creates witty banter, or you’re the next big thing in mystery novels. This vision will serve as your north star, guiding your daily writing routine.

2. Set Goals Aligned with Your Future You

Once you have a clear picture of your future writer self, set goals that align with this vision. These goals should be specific, measurable, and time-bound. For instance, if your future self is an accomplished novelist, your goal might be to complete a novel draft in a year. This means setting daily or weekly writing targets that contribute to this larger goal.

3. Make Decisions with Future You in Mind

Every day, you’re at a crossroads: to write or not to write. Here’s a cool trick – ask yourself, “What would my future successful writer self do?” Even on those days when your muse is playing hide and seek, remember, your future self is counting on you to keep the words flowing. This mindset is your secret weapon for staying on track.

4. Embrace Learning and Improving Your Craft

The journey to your future self is paved with learning and growth. ​Dedicate time to learning​ new writing skills. Embrace new writing exercises, genres, or techniques. Your future self is a more skilled writer because they weren’t afraid to experiment and learn.

5. Reflect and Revise Regularly

Growth is all about change, and so are your writing goals. Keep checking in with yourself. Celebrate those big wins (and the little ones too)! If your future self is nudging you towards a new genre or media, go for it! Be flexible enough to accommodate these evolving goals.

Conclusion

Applying the Future You concept to your writing isn’t just about ticking off goals. It’s about aligning your everyday hustle with where you want to be down the road. It’s about being bold, learning, and evolving. Remember, the amazing writer you’ll be tomorrow is taking shape with every word you write today.


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