Over the summer I had many interesting conversations with the people about my majors — public and professional writing and political science. As a writing major I get asked a lot about my feelings on artificial intelligence and if I am afraid that my degree will soon become obsolete. Commonly, my answer is no. This is because technology still struggles, especially with grammar. Also, the technology needs writing that it can learn from.
One day, a man made an interesting point. He said that fiction created by artificial intelligence wasn’t uncreative because all writers just copy what came before them. There are no new plot ideas anymore and everything is just a retelling of what came before it.
This is such a negative look on creativity and one I do not agree with. Saying that human creativity is the same as a writing AI is incorrect.
I know that artificial intelligence will get better and I can’t judge it for the bad writing it produces right now. What is important is to appreciate the process that creates good writing.
The way that AI approaches writing, as a formulaic combination of the work that it models after, is not the same as authors taking inspiration from work that came before them. In writing class, you often do exercises that involve invoking a specific writer’s style. The point is not to mimic their work, but to learn what works about their method and what you can take from it. The whole point is that you can use the skills you learn along with what style you already have.
Writing is complex in a way that it is hard to understand fully. Storytelling is about what it means to be human. No AI can replicate this. There is a reason that so many stories are retold and still gain a massive audience each time they are reshaped. That is because the human experience is so vastly different for everyone, and this truth is present in writing. Every writer puts a piece of themselves into their work, whether it is purposeful or not. No two people think in the exact same way and, in a similar vein, writing styles drastically differ in everyone as well.
Every day new challenges are created, and that means new stories, too. It is impossible that every good story has been written when people are still living.
This conversation also relates to writing for television. People will turn to recent media that is widely regarded as bad and say that if this is what real human writers are churning out then whatever AI makes can’t be much worse. I disagree, because these projects are not bad because the writers are unskilled. They are bad because of the current media landscape that makes these works more popular than ones that are told skillfully. The truth is that shows like “Riverdale” and “Emily in Paris” will get watched because they are so terrible and are known for being terrible. People will watch them and then talk about how horrible they are and then still continue to watch when the next season comes out.
Here are some recently released novels I recommend that prove that writing can still be innovative stylistically and tell a compelling story.
“Less” by Andrew Sean Greer follows an author named Arthur whose ex is getting married. Instead of going to the wedding, he travels the world, attending every PR event that invites him. I can confidently say that this is the funniest book I have ever read.
“Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” by Gabrielle Zevin is about two kids who meet over video games and grow up to make them together. The book spans over decades and captures the growth of its characters beautifully. This was the first book I have read this year and is still my favorite of 2023 so far.
“In the Dream House” is a memoir by Carmen Maria Machado that is incredibly beautiful. It is about her experiences in an abusive relationship but broken into a collection of metaphors and images. The writing style is something I have never seen done before, and the story itself made me cry.
Writing is about emotions and sharing experiences. It is not a chore, but an art. It is something that writers should enjoy the process of. AI will never understand the feeling of having someone else read their work and feel touched by it like an author can.
I think it is sad that people believe they may one day prefer stories written by AI rather than those written by people. If the current literature landscape seems boring and repetitive to you, I can promise that the answer does not lie in AI. What you should do is expand your horizons and look into reading new releases. There are still new stories being told and you should listen.
Jameson Keebler writes primarily about pop culture and current events. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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