In Elizabeth Ann West’s Do What? How method, AI writing tools help writers ethically create works of genius as a creative director.
Check out Elizabeth’s AI outlining and co-writing course.
Transcript from the Using AI to Write a Book Episode
[00:00:00] Elizabeth: G p t dropped and basically the secret came out. Now everybody’s grandma knows that there’s AI to use to write books.
[00:00:16] Joe Solari: Hey, this is Joe Solari and welcome to the Business of Writing. Today, we’re gonna change things up a little bit. We’re running shorter episodes. They’re gonna be more concentrated on a specific topic. I thought the best place to start would be with Elizabeth again, who was here recently talking about AI and how to use it as an author.
We had an amazing amount of people Watch that video and we’ll direct you to that video. It’s a longer video and gets into the nitty gritty of how to use the tool. Since then with only a couple weeks, there’s been so much that has happened and changed that. I wanna make sure that Elizabeth Ann West would come back and explain to us all the stuff that’s changed and some of the cool things that she’s doing today, including her courses that she’s running to help you use these.
Ever-changing tools. How you doing, Elizabeth?
[00:01:05] Elizabeth: I’m doing great. Yeah, chat, p t dropped and basically the secret came out. Now everybody’s grandma knows that there’s AI to use to write books. . .
[00:01:16] Joe Solari: Yeah. And I’ve, I’ve been amazed, like I said, of the stuff that I’ve seen with the views on our channel.
, but there’s just a lot of people talking about it and have lots of concerns. There’s of course, a ton of misinformation What we were gonna do over the next, 10 minutes here is really dig into what’s going on right now. , how people can learn how to use this tool specifically from you.
And then some of the things that you think are really important for them while they’re exploring this. Like we were talking before we got online, about great ideas that you have around how to make the tool work for you, not you work for the.
[00:01:53] Elizabeth: So I think that the number one thing that authors need to know, , which is what the name of my school is.
What authors need to know is that working with AI is a new way of writing. You’re going to develop new skills such as prompting. I tell my students that nine times out of 10, if the ai like pseudo write or chat, g p t is not giving you what you want. The problem is with the prompt, not the artificial intelligence.
It didn’t understand what you were asking it to do. So I teach a very simple way to prompt, and that’s do what? How. So you use a verb and you tell it what you want it to do. Describe write list, and then what? A chapter summary 10 characters. So you define the what and then the how is where you say what genre it’s for, or you want compelling dialogue or you want exciting story events.
So if you learn the do what, how you’re going to be a superior prompter and that’s gonna allow you to use any AI tool that’s out there.
[00:02:43] Joe Solari: Yeah. And from your, you’re saying these kinda concepts work across, it’s not like special code or anything like that?
[00:02:50] Elizabeth: No, because all of them are npls, the natural processing languages.
So that’s why the do what how works. It’s designed to be able to be talked to a regular human. But people get concerned and they have like almost like a programmer’s mindset when they’re working with it and they think that they’ve gotta be more complicated than they do. , would really wanna talk to it.
If you were talking to a VA who was perfectly trained or a junior co-writer who was perfectly trained and you just speak to it in plain English. I need write me a chapter summary of six space opera novels that involve inter interstellar travel and smuggling. And it’ll give you six pro six.
Or three summaries or something like that. And that’s how I do the do what, how.
[00:03:29] Joe Solari: Can you give some other examples of how you’re, how you’ve seen people use this or other prompts that are, helpful right now.
[00:03:36] Elizabeth: Yeah. sudowrite has a brand new feature called First Draft where you can actually put those kinds of prompts in and it’ll immediately generate you an outline or it will generate you a first scene.
So you’ll get 500 to 700 words that you can start editing and changing. They also have an expand feature which is in other AI tools as well. I use SudoWrite the most. So that’s why I’m really well versed with sudowrite , because it’s designed to write fiction and it’s a commercial product.
It’s not built on open source algorithms like some other tools are. It’s built on commercial algorithms, which is important for us as business people. I think that cuz we’re in a commercial vein here. , but expand. For example, I can highlight one sentence and it’ll expand. I can highlight two sentences between two paragraphs.
I don’t know what goes here, write or transition. And the AI will give me, the little junior co-writer will give me like 2, 3, 4 examples and then that gets me going as the senior writer. , taking on that persona of I’m the creative director. Again, these are new skills for authors. We’ve, for over a decade, we’ve been bogged down in like the writing process and now we actually have an opportunity to take a step back and become more of a reader experience special.
becoming that leader of what’s going on with our product line and our branding. Yeah. You made me think with your kind of description there about how like TV shows or comedies, like they have a writing room, there’s , senior writers, there’s a show director, there’s all those people, and what the, the product isn’t one person, right?
Yeah. It’s a bunch of people and they, a lot of times start out just what you said is give me 16 premises. Do this and then what? And then they iterate to a better product. And it’s some of the things that end up on that whiteboard that makes somebody else think of the thing that ends up being the real thing that you use.
I actually have personified my AI as like the boys in the writing room. They’re all junior interns and they come to me and I’m like, sorry boys, that’s not gonna work. We need to go one step up. . But I might be a little bit mad about that. . But yeah, no, sometimes when people first use ai, they’re like, this is junk.
I’ll never publish this. Of course you wouldn’t because it’s the junior writing partner. It’s really just providing you stuff to riff off of and things like that. , also can use it for editing. A lot of the editing tools that are out there, like autocrit or pro writing aid, it’ll tell you have too many adverbs, or it’ll tell you have too many felts in there, but it won’t tell you how to change them.
With ai, you can highlight that and you can say, make all my verbs stronger, and then it’ll show you how it could do that, and then you can pick and choose which verbs you wanna change. So it makes it faster even on the editing side. So whatever your pinch point. Whatever your pinch point in writing is, whatever is the part of writing that is not your favorite AI’s there for you.
[00:06:12] Joe Solari: So let’s double click on that one. That idea if I was somebody who, I can get a good story, but my grammar is bad, or I, it’s just kinda tends to be more passive. How would I, how would you tell me to do that? To take that information I may get out of something like Grammarly or Pro writing Aid and then.
Take it to sudowrite, and make it
[00:06:33] Elizabeth: so if pro writing aid or autocrit says too many adverbs, you’d put that prose into, say, sudowrite? You can go 250 words at a time, which I think they’re working on expanding and say, remove all adverbs that don’t further the story, and it’ll actually do it. It’ll give you options that you could just put into your story to fix it, ok.
Or you could manually fix the problems one by one. . But I also think that writing with AI helps you if you struggle with grammar or maybe you just didn’t have the opportunity to learn grammar cause that’s not what you focused on in school. , a lot of people come into writing and they’ve left another industry.
So working with a junior writer who is always grammatically correct for the most part, it actually improves your writing because you’re literally working with a co-writing partner who’s demonstrating for you how to do the sentence construction and things like that are grammatically. So you’re not by yourself.
That requires you to pay attention and
[00:07:20] Joe Solari: learn from what the machine you already do. If you’re reading it and you should read it. You should validate every word. If you’re reading it, you’re learning. Yeah. No, that’s a good point. So what else has changed since the last time we talked?
I know Chat GPT came out, but there’s been, there has been other innovations other than just like the general public waking up to this tool. Yeah, I think that, and I think that a lot of different tools, whether it’s sudowrite or novel AI or verb AI and things like that. They’re actually creating groups of authors who are giving them input on the tools.
[00:07:50] Elizabeth: So right now, if you have interest in ai, get involved with these softwares, the software companies, because they will take your input and help, you’ll get to help shape the tools that are for the authors of the future and for you, so if you want something specific, this is the time that they’re listening.
[00:08:06] Joe Solari: They’re not gonna be able to listen a year from now when they have a stable product and they’re out of mvp basically. Yeah. And I think it’s a really important point, is. To touch on, and that with authors concern about what’s gonna happen with AI is that’s the way to get your voice heard, right?
, these guys aren’t looking to hurt the publishing industry. If the publishing industry doesn’t exist. There’s no use for their tool. Exactly. The tool needs to work for their customer. Who’s the source of their money, right? It’s layered because all money comes from readers, but the money that you choose, that you get from your readers to spend on this is only gonna be going to them if they give you the product you want.
[00:08:46] Elizabeth: I think we got scared when the robots came, but we forgot that humans are where money is made, humans is where it begins and where it ends. A lot of these companies, like I can speak for sudowrite for example, everybody on the team is a writer themselves of short stories and has been published.
So they are really wanting to be good stewards. We call it AI safety. And the other thing is that as more of us authors who have good ethics and want this industry to flourish, we can. Prevent some of the bad actors that might come into the space. By us being involved and talking about the ethical ways to prompt the ethical ways to use ai, making sure that you read everything and that you validate it, that you’re serving readers, that you’re not allowing the robot to be biased and discriminatory because of the stuff that it grew up, that it learned from.
I almost said grew up like I think it’s a person, but sometimes it reminds me of a toddler. . Yeah. The way it uses words, but but yeah, so the stuff that it learned, If we get involved with great power comes great responsibility, thank you. Uncle, I always forget his name cause it’s not Uncle Stan Lee.
Oh, uncle. I know Stanley. But the uncle uncle, ugh. . Somebody will tell us in the comments Spider. Yeah. They’re gonna blast us with the comments. Spider-Man’s uncle. With great power comes great responsibility and those of us who are stepping up to be responsible with it, I think that’s gonna make a big difference for the future.
[00:10:01] Joe Solari: Yeah, for sure. For. No, that’s cool. And before we wrap up this little segment, what people like, I think the biggest thing that you’re probably too humble to talk about, but one of the biggest things that I’ve seen change in the community that I’m around is you’re providing a place for people to get help with these tools.
So you’ve got your course you mentioned and I mentioned, but let’s give some people some idea of what happens in that. And then we’ll have the. In the show notes for people to click on.
[00:10:33] Elizabeth: Yeah. So I have two classes right now, intro to collaborating with AI for writing and intro to AI art. So the AI art one is debuting actually in February.
Both classes are very affordable, I think, for what you get because we go through exactly how the technology works, step by step, how to use it, and also you also find out how you can use it with your specific writing process or your specific marketing ideas that you want for your. So in one class, basically it’s about a two hour class.
You get all the recordings that I ever do. I teach live, but then I teach like multiple times and it’s whoever’s in the class and asks questions that gets on the recording. So you actually get a really great Widespread of education because you might have missed the three o’clock class, but an author in the three o’clock class asks them questions that sparks you.
And so you come to the class the following week and you wanna build on that. And that’s what we’re doing as a community. So it’s the way I teach classes because I don’t want it to be modules. I want it to be live, and I want people to be able to ask questions, and I want each class to have like really good value to it.
Yeah. And looking in it it’s nice because if I have the time, I can go there and I can ask specific questions. If not. I can just watch the videos on my own time. Yeah, and you can send me a question too if you’re like, Hey, Elizabeth, those times don’t work for me. Number one, I’ll try to find a time that does work for your schedule.
Like I have made classes for cl for students who have said, Hey, I’m in Australia. Can you do something at 6:00 PM And I did it. Or you can just say, Hey, I can’t make it in live. I just can’t. Could you demo this? And I’ve demoed that and made sure I incorporated it into the class. Yep. Awesome.
[00:11:59] Joe Solari: Thanks for having yeah, taking some time to come and be on the show. And just so people know, we’re talking about doing more of these at least one a month, where we’re just talking about this subject and the latest and greatest advances and things that. I basically go to Elizabeth to keep me up to speed on it,
[00:12:15] Elizabeth: And the biggest thing is don’t take you out of your project. Do not take you out of your writing. Don’t think that the robot needs to write all the words because no one wants to buy that. They want to buy your genius. So you just be the creative director. Awesome. Thanks a lot. . Yeah.