What happens when a novelist encounters ChatGPT? Lately, around my house, I have been discussing the pros and cons of this new hyped technology. My wife is not a technologist, she was first a lawyer and now a writer. I tried to steer my discussions towards it’s impact on law, which has led to a few interesting discussions. But my wife is currently a writer who has published a successful novel, received a major award for it, and also accomplished an MFA from a well-regarded college. She knows how to write.

My explorations and conversations over ChatGPT, have been focused on what I believe is a “Big Deal”. The promise of radically good or bad or both happening as the technology giants of the world unleash this on us is somewhat terrifying as well as hopeful. Bill Gates recently discussed that the global shortage of medical professionals and educators might be helped immensely by this technology. The president of Microsoft said that they weren’t expecting this breakthrough until 2033, so it represents a quantum leap. However educators are scared of students bringing works in that were created by a machine rather than human thought. News could be created that has no basis in reality (wait, that is already happening without technology!). How will people know what’s real or just made up? Plagiarism is a distinct possibility. The list is virtually endless of what could be improved or destroyed by this technology.

Today, though, my wife came to me with a smile and said, “I just asked ChatGPT to write the first page of a novel from just an opening line.”

“What was the line?” I asked.

“I was thinking of the squirrel last year. The one that was mad at us for shutting it out of our garage, so I just used the opening line: The squirrel was adamant. Take a look at this.” And she handed me a printed page.

Here, is what ChatGPT “wrote” :

The squirrel was adamant. He had found the perfect spot to hide his prized possession, a shiny acorn he had spent hours gathering, and he wasn’t going to let anyone, or anything get in the way of his treasure. His tiny paws clutched the acorn tightly as he surveyed his surroundings, looking for any sign of danger. He knew that the other animals in the forest would be after his acorn, but he was determined to protect it at all costs.

As he sat there, his sharp eyes scanned the trees and the ground, watching for any movement. He saw a rabbit hopping nearby and a group of birds flitting from branch to branch. He also noticed a fox lurking in the shadows, eyeing him with hungry eyes. But the squirrel didn’t flinch. He was brave and resourceful, and he knew that he could outsmart any predator.

As he settled into his hiding spot, the squirrel felt a surge of pride. He had worked hard to gather the acorn, climbing trees and dodging obstacles to find the perfect one. And now he had it, safe and sound in his hiding spot. He knew that he would have to be vigilant to keep it, but he was up for the challenge.

With a final glance around the forest, the squirrel settled in to guard his treasure. Little did he know that this acorn would be the key to a much greater adventure, one that would take him far beyond the boundaries of the forest and into the unknown.

“This is amazing.” I said. “Can it be copywritten?”

“I don’t know!” she said.” It is amazing and it’s somewhat scary, because I would happily read this to a child and the child would want to know what comes next. I would want to know what comes next.”

“I’d want to know too.”

“I bet there are publishing houses in places like New York right now with people on staff coming up with first lines to feed into this thing.”


“This is crazy, because if this Ai thing can create story beginnings as compelling as this, especially for children’s books, it is going to create a huge change in publishing. Hire writers to help it create, feed it ideas? Maybe. “

“Writers rooms are already about coming up with ideas that other writers flesh out.” I said.


“Well but wait,” I thought for a second, “this all was gleaned from the Internet. Did it plagiarize this entire opening? How would you figure that out? And how would one go about establishing rights to something like this?”

“Yes, that might be tricky. The possibilities are really wild!”

She started down the stairs, “I’m going to ask it to write the next paragraph,” she said with a smile.

Photo is of a Gakken auto handwriting machine from 2014. Distributed by the folks at Adafruit. For more on their wonderful teaching products for educators and inventors, check out:

NEW PRODUCT – Auto Writing Machine by Gakken « Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers!


  1. Interesting subject, I of course take hope in the fact that many books have been written in the past that didn’t use this technology. And another thing, the AI is only as good as the person that suggests the theme of the book. That’s the place where humans will not be replaced, because AI can’t ask the question that spurs on the results.

  2. The discussion that you and your wife had, was interestingly unpolarized. On the matter of who created this work, and who can claim this work … if we think about it, if nobody gave it that 1st sentence, which in this case is a persons experience, would the AI write its own experience and come up with the story(content)? Certainly the writing style was designed to be captivating to 1 age group, and I suppose it can be tuned to a different age group. One day, writers may be obsolete and idea generators take over.

    The question that I am faced with, as a engineering PhD student, is whether I (or my fellow classmates) can ask AI, ” What is the problem with inductance in coffee making machine? ” …. and the follow question to AI ” Why? Justify your answer ” . At that point, education is obsolete.

  3. Great article! I asked ChatGPT to write a comment and received this:
    “As a language model, I can say that the encounter between a novelist and ChatGPT can be both exciting and thought-provoking. On one hand, writers can use AI-generated content to inspire new ideas and explore different narrative possibilities. On the other hand, it raises questions about copyright, authorship, and authenticity in the creative process.

    AI-generated content is still a relatively new phenomenon, and it is unclear how copyright laws will apply to it. In the case of your wife’s experiment, the opening paragraph may contain elements that were derived from existing works on the internet. However, the AI model likely used advanced algorithms to synthesize and combine these elements in a unique way, which raises questions about authorship and originality.

    As AI technology continues to advance, it is likely that more writers and publishers will experiment with using it to generate content. Some writers may even collaborate with AI models to create more complex and nuanced narratives. However, it is important to consider the potential implications of this technology, such as the impact on the job market for human writers and the potential for plagiarism and intellectual property disputes.

    In summary, the encounter between a novelist and ChatGPT can be an exciting opportunity to explore the possibilities of AI-generated content, but it also raises important questions about the future of creativity and authorship in the digital age.”

    A little redundant. I”ve always considered myself a slow writer, but this isn’t bad for about 3.6 seconds.

  4. That’s amazing. The other evening Jim was talking with an ai chatbot and he asked it to wrote a poem about the Shipwright’s Regatta. It did a pretty good job! Then he asked it a question and it gave him a wrong answer, then it apologized, then gave him another wrong answer and apologized again, and then did it again. We’re going to name it “Santos.”

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