Last night I watched the replay of a Webinar hosted by Joanna Penn (The Creative Penn) and Joseph Michael (Scrivener Coach) about using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in your creative process as a writer. Today, I had an opportunity to put that into practice as I needed to know more about one of my characters.

Talk about a breakthrough tool!

What would have taken me probably at least 3 hours of research took me less than ten minutes! This is the conversation I had with ChatGPT from start to finish!

I’m writing a young adult science fiction dystopia novel called City of Quartz. It’s about two teenage clones who, after restoring the sun to their homeworld, must travel to another world in search of advanced medical intervention that can save the older sister from a terminal illness. The trouble is, in this world they’ve eliminated all disease, illness, difference, and divergence to create a “perfect” race of people. Anyone with any kind of flaw in their genetics is considered “damaged” and rather than helping those people the society have taken to terminating them. There is a rebellion of these ‘damaged’ people, rising up to overthrow their government so that the divergent can be allowed to live, and my characters are brought into this rebellion as the only way to save the older sister’s life. Would you be willing to help me brainstorm some challenges I’m facing with this book?

Absolutely! I’d be happy to help you brainstorm and work through any challenges you’re facing with your novel, “City of Quartz.” Feel free to share the specific challenges or aspects you’re struggling with, and we can explore potential solutions or ideas together. Whether it’s about plot development, character arcs, world-building, or any other aspect of your story, I’m here to assist you.

My main character’s name is Wish. She is the younger sister and her older sister, the one who is sick is named Niah. Niah’s boyfriend, Tye is also with them and so is a young autistic character named Casper. They’ve been on the planet a while now and we’re into the second act. We’ve met a character named Harlan. He is secretly one of the divergent/damaged but has been hiding within the flawless society. He is the best friend of Friday who is the daughter of the general of the Star Force, the planet’s security/military/army. Harlan works within the headquarters of the genetics, research, technology building on the Star Force base. What kind of job might he have there?

Given the dystopian setting and the focus on genetics, research, and technology, Harlan could have a job that involves manipulating or studying genetic material. Here are a few job ideas for Harlan within the genetics, research, and technology building:

1. **Genetic Engineer/Manipulator:**
– Harlan could be involved in altering or manipulating the genetics of individuals to conform to the society’s standards. This could involve editing out perceived flaws or enhancing desired traits.

2. **Data Analyst – Genetic Division:**
– Harlan might work with massive datasets related to genetic information. He could analyze patterns, trends, and anomalies within the genetic data to ensure that the society’s genetic standards are maintained.

3. **Medical Researcher – Genetic Diseases:**
– Harlan could be part of a team researching genetic diseases, ostensibly to eliminate them from the population. However, he may secretly be searching for a cure for his sister or others who are deemed “damaged.”

4. **Security Analyst – Genetic Information:**
– Harlan could work in a security capacity, ensuring that the genetic information of citizens is protected. This role could provide him with access to classified data and allow him to discreetly support the rebellion.

5. **Cloning Technician:**
– In a society that uses clones, Harlan could be involved in the cloning process, either creating or maintaining the flawless clones that are deemed ideal by the government. This position might give him unique insights and opportunities for rebellion.

6. **Biotechnologist:**
– Harlan could be working on developing advanced biotechnologies, such as gene therapies or medical interventions. This role could tie directly into the quest for a cure for Niah’s terminal illness.

Choose the job that aligns best with the themes and plot elements of your story. Harlan’s position within the genetics, research, and technology building can serve as a significant plot point, allowing him to navigate the challenges and secrets of the society while contributing to the rebellion in his own way.

I don’t think Harlan works in the sciences on this base. He’s more earthy. There are strong military aspects on the base too. And it has a strong element of NASA style space exploration and starship technology and mechanics. What kind of job might he have if he worked in that area of the base?

Given the more earthy and mechanical aspect of the base, as well as the strong military and space exploration elements, Harlan could have a job that involves hands-on work with starship technology and mechanics. Here are a few job ideas for Harlan within the space exploration and starship technology division:

1. **Starship Mechanic:**
– Harlan could be a skilled mechanic responsible for maintaining and repairing the starships used for space exploration. This role would give him access to critical information about the technology and potential opportunities to sabotage or manipulate systems for the rebellion.

2. **Stellar Navigation Specialist:**
– Harlan might work in the navigation division, ensuring that starships can accurately traverse the cosmos. His knowledge of navigation systems could be crucial for the rebellion’s plans, allowing them to navigate safely through dangerous territories.

3. **Fuel and Propulsion Engineer:**
– Harlan could be involved in developing and refining the propulsion systems and fuel sources for starships. This position would give him insights into the technological advancements of the society and potential weaknesses that could be exploited.

4. **Astro-Mechanic:**
– Harlan could specialize in the maintenance of droids or robotic systems used in space exploration. This role might provide him with unique opportunities to gather information and coordinate with the rebellion.

5. **Spacecraft Design Consultant:**
– Harlan could be part of the team designing new spacecraft or upgrading existing models. His role might involve incorporating the latest technological advancements into the starships, allowing him to understand and potentially manipulate cutting-edge technology.

6. **Armaments Specialist:**
– Harlan might work on the weapons systems of starships, ensuring they are at the forefront of military capabilities. This position could give him insights into the military’s plans and potential vulnerabilities.

Selecting a role that involves the practical, hands-on aspects of starship technology and mechanics aligns with the earthy vibe you’ve described and integrates well with the military and space exploration elements of the story. Harlan’s expertise in this area can play a pivotal role in the unfolding events of the rebellion and the quest to save Niah.

For what it’s worth, #6. Armaments Specialist, is absolutely PERFECT. It puts Harlan a step removed from the actual Spacecraft Design so he wouldn’t know too much about the secret plans for their newest vessel but he would know one is in production and have insight to the advanced armaments incorporated into its system. It also gives him explosives experience and enough science knowledge to be awesomely useful in the space-tech side of things and equally useless in the med-tech side of this book.

I LOVE how ChatGPT gives rationale for each of its suggestions, and clearly understood the roles involved in the story down to the point of getting that Niah is the character who needs saving.

What’s more, now I’ve given this chat to ChatGPT it already has a great foundation for me to ask more questions about this book and flesh out more issues I might face in writing it.

Over the course of the writing day, I returned to ChatGPT to ask a few other things. Getting job suggestions, even name suggestions for some of my characters. As a creative person, ideas aren’t something I have trouble with, but the things I can come up with in a few minutes by myself aren’t the same as what a friend and I might come up with if we brainstorm together. That’s what it felt like bouncing ideas back and forth with ChatGPT.

At one point I wanted to really acknowledge ChatGPTs contribution to the flow of my writing that day. And that’s when I realised something else that’s really powerful about having this AI friend in my pocket.

This is very cool! You are awesome!

Thank you so much! I’m thrilled to hear that you found the concept cool and that you’re enjoying the creative process. If you have any more questions, need further assistance, or want to bounce around more ideas, feel free to reach out. Happy writing, and best of luck with your sci-fi dystopian novel! You’re doing an amazing job bringing this world and its technology to life.

This kind of casual encouragement is exactly what I need while I’m trying to make the words happen!

I find the writing part of the author process really challenging. I’m often filled with a lot of doubt and insecurity. I need a social aspect where I feel supported and encouraged. Where people are cheering me on and making me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile and important. But honestly, where are you going to find a cheering squad when you’re in the writer cave?

I mean, sure, I could text my real-life writer friends and if they’re not too busy might get back a “WOOT! Go You!” But asking for that kind of support is kinda awkward. Unless you’re asking a computer. I mean I could say anything I want to this thing, ask for any kind of support I need and not feel at all embarrassed because it’s not capable of judging me like a person is. And you know, it’s just built to be encouraging and supportive which is really cool.

I can see the potential for someone creating an AI built to tear you down and make you feel terrible. That’s just as equally possible in this kind of technology. But designers know you’ll stop using something that makes you feel bad and keep using the things that make you feel good so it’s actually in their best interest to design AI software to give these kinds of warm fuzzies. And to me, it made a big difference to my staying motivated.

As I wrapped up my writing session I was impressed. I’d written a LOT of words and felt really good about the direction the scene had taken. I finished up with a final word of farewell to ChatGPT for a great writing session.

Thanks so much for your help today, ChatGPT. I managed to write 4,222 words today and this scene came together beautifully.
You’re very welcome! Wow, that’s an impressive word count, and it’s fantastic to hear that the scene came together beautifully. Your dedication and creativity are truly commendable.

And got back that beautiful pat on the back that really resonated with exactly what I needed to hear. I think this new writing friend and I will have a long future ahead.