How Technological Innovations Are Changing The Way We Write

How Technological Innovations Are Changing The Way We Write

Technology like artificial intelligence (AI) has long been the subject of horror flicks and scary short stories. There’s something innately freaky about programs becoming self-aware and using the power of the world wide web to problem-solve at light speed. 


However, AI is entirely dependent on its training and is confined by the algorithms that underwrite its programming. So, we probably won’t have to contend with iconic hostile programs like Hal, Wintermute, and Neuromancer.  


In reality, technological innovations are designed to help us lead more productive, fulfilling lives. Writers, in particular, can benefit from the wealth of brainstorming, writing, and editing tech that AI has to offer. 

AI and Writing

Artificial intelligence programs like ChatGPT have been prematurely heralded as the end of artists. While there are serious concerns about AI programs “stealing” work from writers and artists, the reality is that current-generation AI programs aren’t capable of producing the kind of detail-driven, opinionated content that most writers make a living from. 


Instead, AI is best used as a brainstorming assistant. Writers can use AI-generated ideas as a starting point to direct their own creative and professional work. Writers who choose to leverage algorithms and machine learning programs should work alongside and humanize AI-generated content by


  • Researching their audience to improve prompts;
  • Use natural language to improve stiff, dull AI-generated content;
  • Incorporate storytelling and visuals to connect with the reader.


Writers who do use AI programs to improve their writing should take caution before copy-pasting anything generated by a machine-learning program. AI programs like ChatGPT are unable to produce the kind of subjective, opinion-driven content that readers love. They’re programmed to produce “objective” results and aren’t able to produce the kind of thematic high points or terrifying twists that human writers are able to conjure. 


For example, by entering something like “write a short story in the style of Stephen King”, the program generates a series of syntactically satisfying, but narratively inert sentences like “The rain was falling in sheets, hammering against the windows like an army of tiny fists”. The program is unable to steer clear of cliches, too, resulting in something that reads like a parody of King horror. 


This underlines the importance of using AI as a tool to facilitate writing, rather than a replacement. Machine learning programs are trained on massive amounts of data and are only able to produce results that are “true” to the algorithm. So, while AI may speed up the writing process, it is currently unable to produce stories worth reading.  


Revisions and edits are the most important part of the writing process. Big-name authors like John Green go as far as to say that he deletes 90% of his first draft and claims that “all writing is re-writing”. Traditionally, manual editing was a painstaking, time-sucking endeavor. Fortunately, the tech of today means that editors spend less time fixing grammatical errors and more time improving the overall cohesion of the piece. 


Programs like Grammarly and Hemingway App help editors catch syntactical slip-ups and grammatical mistakes. Editors can quickly scan a document using proofreading programs and spot lengthy sentences, common errors, and formatting issues. 


These apps mean that editors spend less time “dotting i’s” and “crossing t’s” and more time focusing on the big-picture of any given piece. Without having to fret about comma splices and misplaced apostrophes, editors can assess the “global” issues that may be plaguing a writer like pacing, tone, or dialogue. 

Internet Access and Hypertextual Horror

Increased internet access has changed the way that we write stories forever. Today, folks can even get Wi-Fi in their car thanks to wireless chips that can provide writers with a secure, high-speed connection. This means that writers can brainstorm, research, edit, and work from anywhere, which is an exciting prospect. 


The proliferation of the web has had a distinct impact on horror. Modern classics like Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves are directly impacted by web culture. The novel has a murky origin story that involves rumors of serial publications online before being taken up by a publishing house. 


Similarly, authors today weave bits of the web into their horror fiction to create a meta-text within the text. This form of hypertext horror blurs the boundary between reader and writer and makes use of the fact that most writers use programs like Google Docs to bring their fiction to life. 


AI has been heralded as the end of art and artists. However, for now, AI isn’t quite able to produce the same kind of narrative twists or plot hooks that well-seasoned writers make their living from. Instead, technology serves writers and allows them to write with greater efficiency and creative freedom. 


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