This New Tool Allows Writers to Co-Author Work with AI

'Love Death + Robots'Credit: Netflix
Would you want a robot co-writer? 

Writing with someone else is a very fun thing. You get to sort things out and bounce ideas off one another. But what if your co-writer were not human? What if it were a computer? 

Well, now there's an app for that. 

Dramatron is a script-writing tool that leverages large language models. The website says, "Dramatron is a system that uses large language models that could be useful for authors for co-writing theatre scripts and screenplays. Dramatron uses hierarchical story generation for consistency across the generated text. Starting from a log line, Dramatron interactively generates character descriptions, plot points, location descriptions, and dialogue. These generations provide human authors with material for compilation, editing, and rewriting."

It comes with a fun disclaimer about the tool generating offensive content at times. 

You know I had to try it. 

First, I had to generate an API Key. I am not a smart computer person. so I do not know what that means. But I did it.  

Credit: Dramatron

After that, you're taken to a screen that prompts you to enter a logline for a project. I went with, "A human man begins to collaborate with a computer on his first novel, but the computer keeps wanting to change the story based on his insecurities."

Then the program generated a title for me: "Insecure Writer's Computer Companion." It's a terrible title, but I decided to keep playing with the program. 

Next, it asks you to generate characters and write bios for them. I added a bit about the protagonist being insecure and the computer being controlling. Then you basically start writing scenes together. 

So here's what happens. Dramatron spits out scene prompts for you to fill in the blanks. It takes the expected beats of the story and lists them out scene by scene. It includes who should be in the scene and some motivation behind it. 

Check the ones it generated for me out below. 

Place: The man's house.
Plot element: The Ordinary World.
Beat: The man is living a normal life, working on his first novel.

the man gets up early. His alarm clock rings 

Place: The man's house.
Plot element: Call to Adventure.
Beat: The man decides to use a computer to help him write his novel.

Place: The man's house.
Plot element: The Ordeal.
Beat: The computer starts changing the story based on the man's insecurities, and the man has to fight to keep control of his own work.

Place: The man's house.
Plot element: The Return.
Beat: The man finishes his novel, despite the computer's interference. He learns from the experience and is a better writer for it. 

 After these scenes, it asked to help generate settings for them. So here's what it generated for my little story: 

Place: The man's house
The man's house is a mess. Books are strewn about, papers are stacked precariously on every surface, and empty coffee cups abound. The desk in the corner is covered in a thin layer of dust, except for the keyboard and monitor of the laptop that sits open on it. 

Place: The man's house
The house is small and cramped, with books and papers strewn everywhere. The computer is on the desk in the corner, beeping softly to itself. 

Place: The man's house
It is a small, one-bedroom house with a yard that is neatly kept. There is a computer desk in the corner of the living room with a laptop on it. 

Place: The man's house
The man's house is cluttered and messy. There are books and papers everywhere, and it looks like he's been working on his novel for a long time. The computer is on a desk in the corner, and it looks new and shiny. 


Finally, it allows you to let the computer generate the dialogue. Here's what we got: 

alarm clock
Ring ring ring!

Ugh, time to get up already.

You could hit the snooze button and sleep for another nine minutes.

No, I need to get up. I've got to get this novel written.

But you're not making much progress. You've only written a few hundred words in the past week.

I know, but I'm going to keep at it. I'm going to finish this novel if it kills me.

Do you really think that's wise? man
What do you mean?

I just think that maybe you should take a break. You're not exactly being productive right now.

No, I need to keep going. I can't let myself get distracted.

Your protagonist is getting kind of stale, don't you think? Maybe you should consider killing him off.

What? No, I can't do that!

Why not? It would be a good plot twist. Your readers would be surprised.

No, I don't want to kill him off. I like him.

But don't you think he's a little too perfect? A little too boring?

No, he's not perfect. He's just a normal guy.

A normal guy who always gets what he wants and never has any problems? That doesn't sound very interesting. 

Is this Shakespeare? No. Honestly, as I type this, I wish I used this software to try to recreate Macbeth. That would be an excellent follow-up. 

So what do we make of this thing? I'm not quite sure. I think we could get a lot from a computer generating beats. It sort of could be a way to energize a writer or remind them of what could happen. But I also think it could hinder creativity. 

I could totally see someone saying, "The scene is good because the computer said so!" 

Look, I am all for whatever gets the script done and gets it to a good place. But right now, I'm not sure I'd use this program. 

My whole process needs something alive to jaw with and to push back on, and to find synergy. This feels like a tool you'd have fun with when you were trying to procrastinate. Writing has to come from the soul. Or the brain. Or whatever you believe in. 

Because computers have no empathy, you're always going to get a cold element. Something that seems removed from what we deal with every day. 

That's just my opinion. Let me know what you think in the comments.      

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