AI-Assisted Novelist | Character building in a drinking contest scene

Dinner, demons, and drinks with a side of AI

Writing method: AI brief writing

Word count: 1689

Keith's Audio Commentary

Daily Writing Progress

Today is July 6th, 2024 and I just completed another writing session.

How many words did I get today?

Let me check.

It looks like I'm sitting at about 1,600, almost 1,700 words today, which is pretty good.

Today's writing method was AI Briefs, but I'm finding myself with my briefs and this is a good, interesting thing of integrating the AI as a tool and not just using it exclusively.

Evolution of AI Briefs Method

But I'm finding myself basically writing the entire chapter in the briefs. Because I experimented with this briefs method last year when I was writing my book, Maldives Madness.

That was a very crude form and I was also doing it on my phone and I had never done it before so I was just doing pretty much single lines of, this person says this, this happens, that happens, these types of events.

Basically it was like an event log.

But Maldives Madness wasn't meant to be a full novel. It was just, it's really a language trainer, Japanese to English, that type of thing.

But doing it with an actual novel is different because there are, of course, a lot more beats, there's a lot more things going on you've got to add in.

So I'm finding myself basically writing the entire thing. Then what the AI does that's cool is that it synthesizes everything, basically what I wrote, into a more complete package.

What it allows me to do is focus on certain aspects of the chapter instead of getting bogged down on description or wondering what should happen next.

I can just kind of go at it stream of consciousness and write out what I see, write out the events that I want to happen, and then I can give it to the AI and it'll fix some things up.

Annoyances with AI Summarization

The thing is, one of the things that's annoying that it does by default, and I think this is just a consequence of how the majority of people use AI, like the most practical use to someone who's not a novelist or a creator, is for summarization.

You can take news articles or reports or technical papers, what have you, and distill them into bite-sized chunks so you can get the gist without having to spend the time reading or watching the video or whatever the medium is.

I think this is how a lot of people are using AI, which is funny because I don't use it that way at all.

I barely used it that way.

I will use it sometimes for some of these transcripts when I make these recordings.

But even with these recordings, I decided when I started making them a couple of weeks ago that I don't want the AI summaries because I want this to be a record of how I actually communicate, how I actually talk, how I write.

Transcript Presentation and Readability

I modify the transcripts to where they're cleaned up. That way they're a little bit easier to consume, because I think just throwing a huge chunk of text kind of sucks on the internet, and most people aren't used to it.

There's a certain presentation style that, whether you know it or not, you're just used to consuming if you consume a lot of stuff on your phone or just on the internet in general.

It's the way it goes.

So I do break it up just mainly for readability and for skimmability too.

I'll add subheadings, I use the AI to do all this, add subheadings, and then just tell it, hey, clean this up.

Preserving Character in Fiction

But the default thing is for the damn thing to summarize. When it summarizes, it just flattens out all the character.

Summaries are fine for nonfiction, for news, or for papers, that's cool.

You can just cut through the fluff of the examples and then just get right to the knowledge.

But when it comes to fiction, everything's kind of there for a reason.

At least it is with my fiction.

So I don't want the summaries, and especially dialogue.

That's one thing I always have to remind the AI: don't touch the fucking dialogue, you're going to fuck it up, you're not going to do it right.

It's just going to be much shittier, because your dialogue sucks in general.

So I tell it not to touch the dialogue, and that's good.

Addressing AI Writing Quirks

But then today, even some of the descriptions, because the AI, I've been using the AI for so long that I can just, there's certain descriptions with fiction writing that it just falls back on and I just really get annoyed with seeing them.

My gut churned.

Her heart pounded.

I got on it today for using the structure, it does this thing where it just uses the ING a lot.

It'll be like, let me get an example of this, it's a really annoying feature that I had to like, scold it and basically say, look, don't do this anymore, like you're screwing it up, it sounds annoying, here it is:

"The Sanxing played an anticipatory rhythm, heightening the suspense," actually, okay,

I think I wrote that one, where is it, oh, here it is,

"Yumi consumed her drink in one long lung-bursting breath, slamming the mug down so hard I feared it might shatter,"

there's that part that I hate, slamming the mug down, like, this should just be another sentence, she slammed the mug down,

it has to extend everything, and it does this all the fucking time, the waitress returned with two large bottles of rhodium beer, cracking them open and distributing six mugs,

just make it two fucking sentences, she cracked the bottles and distributed the mugs, something like that, so these are things,

you know? I have to get on it a lot, and it does correct, of course, but you just have to remind it to do that,

but otherwise, you know, these are small things that when you get used to working with AI, it gets easier, alright,

I even styled on it a little bit today,

I said, some of your descriptions aren't good, slamming the mug down so hard I feared it might shatter, rewrite it, but use the structure less, just make it into a new sentence, don't overuse it,

and then it said, you're right, I apologize for the overuse of that structure,

Today's Chapter

uh, let me talk about today's chapter, and it was a really fun chapter, and it's one of the things that I remind myself when writing fiction,

this is one of the beauties of it, because you can write anything that you want, you can describe sensations and feelings and scenarios that, whatever, that don't exist, and that's one of the powers of it,

today was something, I wrote something that I've never written before in fiction, and that is this drinking contest that Zena and her friends find themselves in with this boss guy, Mr. Riku, and I thought this was just a really fun chapter, because these are descriptions where you get to see the characters doing the same thing, but they're doing it in their own style, so it's a character building thing,

there's also a little bit of plot in there as well, to where we get these developments and some of the threads that have been pulled on in the previous chapters are starting to come together in this scene,

we get a lot of characters that are just kind of watching this contest unfold, but they're slowly moving into position for an eventual mini-climax for this gate, and I think the reader is going to feel this,

I felt it as writing it, because after you read the last few chapters, you know, okay, they're here to get this gate, now they gotta play this drinking game, what, this is pretty, it's a pretty strange situation, and then you add to the fact that, of course, you're playing a drinking game,

so you're gonna be intoxicated, so how are you gonna fight when you're intoxicated?

How are you gonna negotiate with demons?

How are you gonna save your soul, save other people, when you're drunk?

Building Suspense Through Unconventional Scenes

I think that's a point of suspense in the reader's mind as you're reading this scene,

because you just know, like, okay, they've gotta drink all these drinks, and I chose a couple of different drinks that I like, of course, but that are also very popular here in Okinawa, and in Japan in general, and I think the readers are gonna enjoy that,

but one of the things I'm really proud of this chapter are the descriptions of Zena basically describing, like, what her, she has this kind of protocol when she drinks these drinks that she doesn't know, obviously she doesn't, she's American, so she doesn't drink the Okinawan liquor very much,

she's never had it before, so she's gotta deal with that, and then I love the shots that I've put in there of her, her teammates, Yumi, of course, who is no stranger to a fountain of drinks, and so she can just, suck them down, no problem,

but then we have Rika, who, you know, she's not a big drinker, it's clear by the way that she is handling it, if she does drink, she's not drinking, like, Orion or something like beer, and so we've got that,

but then you've also got Mr. Riku, and then his, his other,

that's something I need to put in there, more of the reactions from Mr. Riku's associates, how they're doing, I might go back in and insert some of those,

then there's, of course, there's a mysterious element that happens about halfway through the chapter, where we see some things starting to happen, and there's a callback to a previous chapter, where Zena was told, that if she drank a certain drink, then she would have access to a certain ability,

I'm being very vague here, because one, I don't want to spoil, and two, I haven't thought all of this through yet, I'm still piecing it together as I write it, but I know it's gonna come together,

it's a very fun chapter, but then the suspense is still there, it's a lively kind of party atmosphere, but then there's this intensity that it's wrapped in, because of the spirit of the contest,

then, of course, the stakes, that she knows, if they lose this, then her chances of getting this gate, and possibly seeing James again, or possibly stopping this, this conflict between the ancient lands and the real world, it's gonna be a lot harder, or it's not gonna happen at all,

I think having her aware of those stakes, and the reader is certainly aware of those, then it makes the scene a little bit more important,

it's not just a fun drinking scene, it's a serious, it's basically a battle scene, but they're not slashing, and swinging, and punching, they're drinking, and I like that I thought to frame it this way, I hope you do too.

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