How does ChatGPT do when asked to continue using a unique style?

For these ChatGPT posts, I’ve been finishing off with the beginning of a novel that I don’t think ChatGPT can possibly emulate. Am I right? Let’s find out.

What I’m going to do is simply drop the entire opening that I posted here into ChatGPT with the simple instruction: New story; continue the story in the same style. I find you have to tell it you’re starting a new story or it tries to make whatever it generates match up with the prior story, which is funny, but not useful in something like this.

So here we go — the actual beginning, which you have seen before, and then ChatGPT takes over and continues the story. Watch what happens —

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***

ONE: HELLFLOWER

I was minding my own business in beautiful downside Wanderweb, having just managed to mislay my cargo for the right price. My nighttime man had talked me into bootlegging again, and damsilly stuff it was, too – either maintenance manuals or philosophy texts. I never did figure out which, even with sixty hours time in Firecat between Coldwater and Wanderweb to stare at them and Paladin to read them to me.

So I was making my way around Wanderweb, free, female and a damn sight over the age of reason, when I saw this greenie right in front of me in the street.

He was definitely a toff, and no stardancer – you never saw such clothes outside of a hollycast. He was lit up like Dream Street at night and wearing enough heat to stock an Imperial Armory besides. And this being scenic Wanderweb, land of enchantment, there was six of K’Jarn’s werewolves and K’Jarn facing him. I was of the opinion – then – that he couldn’t do for them before they opened him up, so, fancy-free, I opened my mouth and said: “Good morning, thou nobly-born K’Jarn. Airt hiert out to do wetwork these days or just to roll glitterborn for kicks, hey?”

K’Jarn looked up from pricing Tiggy Stardust’s clothes and said, “N’portada je, S’Cyr. Purdu.”

K’Jarn and me has known each other ever since I started running cargos into Wanderweb Free Port and he started trying to boost them. For once I should of took his advice. But, hell, it was seven-on-one and I’ve never liked K’Jarn.

“Like Imperial Mercy I will. Yon babby’s my long-lost lover and my maiden aunt and I’m taking him home to Mother any day now. Fade.”

He might have, except that just then one of K’Jarn’s wingmen got restless and took a swipe at the glitterborn with a vibroblade. Tiggy Stardust moved faster than anything human and swiped back and I burned K’Jarn before he could mix in. K’Jarn dropped his blaster, not having a hand to hold it with anymore, and left on urgent business. So did everybody else.

Business as usual in wondertown and not enough fuss for the CityGuard to show up. Except for the deader Tiggy made and another I didn’t have time to get fancy with, me and him was alone and he wasn’t moving.

I went to see if there was anything left to salvage. He snaked around and then it was me down and staring up at an inert-blade knife as long as my thigh while he choodled at me unfriendly-like.

I can get along in flash, cant, and Trade, but I couldn’t make head nor hind out of his parley, and I thought at first I’d hit my head too hard. But then I knew that what I had actually gone and done was the stupidest thing of my whole entire life. I’d rescued a hellflower.

***

Tiggy Stardust loomed over me, the inert-blade knife gleaming in the light of Wanderweb’s peculiarly iridescent sky. His glittering attire, so out of place in the grime-covered streets of the Wanderweb, contrasted sharply with the surroundings. I couldn’t help but curse my impulsive nature.

“Starseeker, you should have left me,” Tiggy spoke in a language I struggled to comprehend, his eyes revealing a mixture of confusion and curiosity. “Why interfere in the affairs of glitterborn and nightshades?”

I winced at the unfamiliar terms. “Look, Tiggy, or whatever you call yourself, I don’t speak your lingo. And why I helped you is a mystery even to me. Maybe I got a soft spot for a guy in glitter who can dance with werewolves. Call me sentimental.”

Tiggy Stardust tilted his head, as if trying to decipher my words. The glitterborn language seemed to be an intricate puzzle, and I had just thrown in a wrench.

“We,” he said slowly, using a few words I recognized, “have common enemy. K’Jarn. Merciless. We grateful.”

I sighed in relief, realizing that, at the very least, he considered us allies in the face of a mutual foe. I pointed at myself. “I’m S’Cyr. You?”

He mimicked my gesture, pointing at himself, “Tiggy Stardust. Thank you, S’Cyr.”

The names might not have meant much to each other, but it was a start. I gestured toward the inert-blade knife hovering ominously above me. “Is this necessary? I’m not your enemy.”

Tiggy considered for a moment before sheathing the knife. “Understood. But K’Jarn may return. You should leave.”

As I struggled to my feet, I could feel the eyes of the glitterborn community on us. Tiggy Stardust extended his hand, and I hesitated before shaking it. It was an agreement forged in the strangest of circumstances, and I had no idea where it would lead.

“Come with me, S’Cyr. We have much to discuss, and I sense a shared destiny.”

I followed Tiggy Stardust through the labyrinthine streets of Wanderweb, a peculiar alliance born out of a moment of impulse. Little did I know that this chance encounter with a glitterborn would unravel a tapestry of mysteries and adventures that stretched beyond the horizon of the Wanderweb, into realms both enchanting and perilous.

******

******

TWO: IN THE COUNTRY OF ICE CREAM STAR

My name be Ice Cream Star. My brother be Driver Eighteen Star, and my ghost brother Mo-Jacques Five Star, dead when I myself was only six years old. Still my heart is rain for him, my brother dead of posies little.

My mother and my grands and my great-grands been Sengle Pure. Our people be a tarry night sort, and we skinny and long. My brother Driver climb a tree with only hands, because our bones so light, our muscles fortey strong. We flee like a dragonfly over water, we fight like ten guns, and we be bell to see. Other children go deranged and unpredictable for our love.

We Sengles be a wandering sort. We never grown nothing from anything, never had no tato patch nor cornfield. Be thieves, and brave to hunt. A Sengle hungry even when he eat, even when he rich, he still want to grab and rob, he hungry for something he ain’t never seen nor thought of. We was so proud, we was ridiculous as wild animals, but we was bell and strong.

In my greats’ time, we come up from Chespea Water; was living peaceful by Two Towns until the neckface murderers come. Then we flee onward to these Massa woods. Here we thieve well. We live as long as Lowells—sometimes twenty years or twenty-one years. Every Sengle have a knife, and we together possess two guns. Driver got a gun that shoot, and Crow Sixteen a broken shotgun, still good for scaring.

The day my story start, we been out scratching in the evacs. These evacs be house after house that face each other in twin lines. Houses shambledown and rotten; ya, the road between is broken through with pushing weeds. Get fifty houses in a street, and twenty streets in one hour’s walking. When these houses all was full, it been more people here than squirrels. Ain’t nobody living now.

***


I was deep in the evacs with Driver Eighteen and Crow Sixteen, the air thick with the musty scent of decay and remnants of forgotten lives. Our footsteps echoed through the empty streets, and the memories of those who once called these houses home seemed to linger in the air.

“Driver, Crow,” I called in a low voice, “check the houses on the left. I’ll take the right. We need supplies, and the evacs have a way of hiding treasures.”

They nodded in silent understanding, and we dispersed into the crumbling structures. The houses whispered stories of bygone days as I moved cautiously through the debris. My nimble fingers traced over forgotten belongings—a child’s toy, a faded photograph, a cracked teacup. Each item held a piece of someone’s past.

In one house, I found a stash of canned goods hidden beneath a floorboard. A small victory, but every find was a step closer to survival in these desolate times. As I secured the cans in a makeshift bag, a faint sound caught my attention—a distant shuffle that did not belong to my companions.

“Driver! Crow!” I hissed, and we gathered in the street, our senses heightened. The Massa woods had taught us to be vigilant, and the evacs were no different.

A shadow emerged from the doorway of a nearby house. It was a young woman, her eyes wide with fear. She wore tattered clothing, and her skin was marked with bruises. Her presence struck a chord within me—an echo of the suffering we all faced in this world.

“Please,” she whispered, “don’t hurt me. I’m alone, just trying to survive like you.”

Crow Sixteen, ever the vigilant one, raised his broken shotgun defensively. I stepped forward, a gesture to ease the tension. “We’re not here to harm you. What’s your name, girl?”

She hesitated, her eyes flickering between us. “Lena. Lena Hart.”

I exchanged a glance with Driver Eighteen, and a silent understanding passed between us. In this desolate world, alliances were scarce, but so were opportunities for compassion.

“Alright, Lena. We won’t harm you. If you’re willing to stick with us, we can use all the help we can get,” I said, my voice steady.

Lena’s eyes softened with gratitude, and as the Massa woods echoed with the distant howls of unknown creatures, our ragtag group—Sengles and a newcomer named Lena—faced the uncertainties of the evacs together. In this world where survival meant embracing the shadows, we were determined to carve out our own path, even if it meant challenging the ghosts of our own pasts.

******

******

Okay, so that was interesting! Chat GPT is obviously completely unable to continue writing in a unique style if asked to do so. The voice of the protagonist is lost immediately, in the very first generated sentence.

But Chat GPT does some interesting things. It doesn’t indicate that the Hellflower’s name IS Tiggy Stardust; did you catch that? It puts in text that indicates that the Hellflower is accepting this name for the moment. But it does NOT realize that the protagonist has never said “Tiggy Stardust” out loud and that therefore it’s impossible for the Hellflower to accept this nickname. It doesn’t know what “glitterborn” means and immediately starts using the word incorrectly.

Chat GPT is surprisingly willing to throw in additional characters. (Hi, Lena! Where did you come from?). I mean, why would it do that? Do so many books start with this kind of encounter in a desolate, ruined town? Maybe so. I’m making a mental note never to do this. Though it wouldn’t actually matter, as a good writer could do it well, so I’m sort of also making a mental note to be sure to do it someday, but much better. I’m just saying, that must be a heck of a cliché for Chat GPT to throw Lena into the story that fast. I will just add that there IS an encounter with a wounded, distressed person coming up in this book, though that character does not resemble Lena in any way and the encounter is very different and there are no deep thoughts about opportunities for compassion.

Chat GPT is utterly incapable of stopping with (a) complete sentences, and (b) incredibly cliched phrases, sentences, and ideas. That isn’t surprising at all.

What do you think, would an AI text generator specifically created for the purpose of writing novels do better? I think that’s entirely plausible. You could get Chat GPT to do much, much better if you just told it that it doesn’t have to use complete sentences, that it should analyze the text you feed it and copy the variety of sentence structure that it finds. You would also need to get it to quit using verbs in a standard way and start copying the use of “be” as show in the text you feed it. Ditto for nonstandard syntax and word usage of every kind.

Metaphors like My heart is rain for him are probably impossible for a text generator, no matter how good the generator might be. I can’t see how any text generator at all could manage to use (most) created slang properly. It’s a text predictor, so how could it possibly predict how that slang should be used? Unless you fed it half the book, and at that point, you’ve written half the book, so you must be good enough to write the other half. But it does use “evac” more or less plausibly.

Anyway, regardless of what text generators might be able to do in five years, right now, there is not the remotest resemblance between the unique story it started with and the text it generated to continue the story. This is true even when Chat GPT is specifically instructed to copy the style.

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2 thoughts on “How does ChatGPT do when asked to continue using a unique style?”

  1. Not surprising, but interesting to have the confirmation. Bad human writers given the assignment would produce very different failures, I’m sure.

    Interesting that Hellflower quickly produces references to confusing language (“in a language I struggled to comprehend” / “I winced at the unfamiliar terms”) as if ChatGPT knows this language is weird and thinks it must seem that way to the characters.

  2. I keep cackling at the phrase “free, female and a damn sight over the age of reason”. The rest–eh! Not so great.

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