Why A.I. Will Take Over Fiction Writing

The Decade of the 2020’s might be seen in the future as the beginning of the end for “human-written-from-start-to-finish” fiction novels. With all the causes thereof rooted in the events of this decade, the 2010’s.

I myself had a front row seat to witness the declines of unique “outside the box” novels, diversity of shelf content in local bookstores, and the fortunes of small presses; all in the face of relentless homogenization to hew to the Big Five New York Publishers’ risk-averse formulae. A brief ray of hope that expanding numbers of video streaming channels would open up the doors for more “outside the box” television projects has now also been dashed in the face of relentless reboots and remakes to reduce risk. 😐

Humans’ greatest asset in a world where Artificial Intelligence improves almost daily is the ability to think outside of the (A.I.) box.
The 10 skills you need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Creativity will become one of the top three skills workers will need. With the avalanche of new products, new technologies and new ways of working, workers are going to have to become more creative in order to benefit from these changes.

Top 10 Skills in 2020

These are the exact skills you would think would be important to create a novel worthy of major publishers’ and Hollywood’s attention.

How did my work fare in these respects? (Review quotes for a previous edition published in 2014, now out of print.)

Jack Wendell is a character unique to modern fiction.”
Welcome, “Jack Wendell’s Vampire Syndrome.” I promise, you have never read a vampire book like this one.”

I wrote a novel, for which its creation was the very exemplification of complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity.

A Vampire with Down Syndrome, not coming off as a caricature?

“…not once did I feel the author or his story pandered. This is a compelling work.”
“…in lit(erary) circles fully drawn characters with Down Syndrome have been rare.
Surely, this genre is well-worn; what can possibly be done to rejuvenate it? … Somehow, Daven Anderson makes it all work.”
The conflicts inherent therein make for the best of fiction. This is one of my very favorite novels that I’ve read all year.”

Problem is, due to risk aversion and narrowing formulae, “This is a compelling, unique work” and a dollar won’t buy me a Starbucks in New York or Hollywood… 😉
But that dollar plus tax will buy me a McDonald’s coffee in Denver, so back to the working life I went, where my complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity skills are ironically more valued than they are in the publishing or television worlds.

And as for the plans I had to write as a hobby, after retiring from full-time work: 538 + 296 = Zero
Not making money off of books is one thing. But no reviews is quite another. Without even a minimal dialogue with others in any way, shape or form, there is no reason to publish a work. 😐
Naturally, that drop-kicks the “muse” to the curb, meaning that “muse” might well become one of the most endangered occupations of the 2020’s… 😈

So, in a world where “complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity skills” are increasingly important in everyday life, yet these same qualities can become liabilities to the New York Publishing (and Hollywood financing) sectors, where will that lead New York Publishing to?

To A.I., of course.

Since, after all, The First Novel Written by A.I. Is Here…

Not only is A.I. writing here, “predictive text” is already starting to improve in line with human interaction.

In the next decade or two, New York Publishing could well evolve into “Best-Selling Authors” entering outlines and synopses into A.I. predictive text programs, then proof-reading and editing the resultant text into book form.

Think that’s impossible? James Patterson and other best-selling names are already working this way, with hired human authors acting as the “predictive text generators”.
James Patterson How

In another ten to twenty years, A.I. predictive text should be refined enough to do this sort of “grunt work.” And fill out a whole bunch more Marvel story arcs, to give just one Hollywood example.

Then the Big Five (or Four, or Three; by then?) Dream will come true. There will be even more tight hewing to formulae, as previous work defining that criteria is incorporated into the A.I.’s databases, and the apps can “predict” what the Big Five will want from the text, formula-wise. As in this Harry Potter fan fiction example, “signature” stylistic examples from the human authors’ previous work will also be rolled into the databases.

And the basic modus operandi is already in place for all this.

Publishers Weekly: Is Publishing Too Top-Heavy?

(A literary agent at a major firm) Citing the fact that major authors of today publish at an increased “velocity and frequency,”, he feels that this rarified group now gets an outsize amount of the limited spoils: bigger advances, more of retailers’ limited space, and more of publishers’ time and attention. “The more big authors a house publishes, the more they take away from all of the other authors,” he added.

Rise Of The Machines“, indeed.

Rise Of The Machines

“Rise Of The Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World” by Kristen Lamb (Amazon Kindle)

Kristen Lamb’s “cyborg author” on the cover is so prophetic, even she doesn’t know how on point this will be. Problem is, the sequel for the 2020’s would have to be subtitled “Digital Authors in a Human World”… 😈

And, as with “James Patterson” books today, very few of the readers will suspect 95%+ of the actual text in their shiny New York Times Bestseller copy was not generated by the name on the dust jacket. 😈

Maybe there’s hope for my retirement hobby yet. If all “writing books” will take in the next decade of two is an outline or a synopsis, then we can all create 100,000 word novels in just a couple of days, and lack of money or reviews won’t matter so much when it only takes a few days to generate the work. 😎😈

No, wait, that’s too easy. 😝 There has to be a catch. 😈 And here it is:

If you think Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing is crowded now, with over a million books a year being added to K.D.P. even at the present time, just wait a decade or two for when no one even has to do the “grunt work” of typing the majority text. Everyone’s “idea” for a novel will suddenly become a novel. Even now, there are at least a hundred people with “ideas for a novel” (for every person who has finished a novel) who have not finished their novels due to the grunt work required to create the text. What happens when all those “ideas” can become novels in a day or two, without all the “heavy lifting” of typing out text? Predictive text A.I. programming fed by human ideas will bring its own version of the “infinite monkey theorem” to life.

Think “discoverability” is a big problem for new works now?
Just wait until there are over 500 million e-books floating around in cyberspace. Maybe even over a billion, who knows? 😈

Winning the Powerball jackpot or being struck by lightning will seem like quite reasonable odds by comparison.

With all this on the horizon, what authors will really need are A.I. generated reviews. Then, A.I. can review its own predictive text output, and we humans need not even be in the loop… 😈

Instead of being an asset, thinking outside of the box was a liability for me in the publishing and Hollywood development financing Worlds in the 2010’s decade. But this also enables me to see how things can get worse in these worlds, in ways that few are even imagining right now.

Yes, the one activity most people associate as being the most creative and uniquely human of pursuits, fiction writing, will be taken over by the bots, the programs and the apps.

It is a given that the first generations of A.I. text completion programs/apps will require more human input than later, more advanced versions. “A.I. Fiction App 1.0”, for example, might require humans to write a synopsis, chapter outlines and opening sentences. By generation 4.0 or 5.0, the App may be able to construct an entire novel from a “back cover blurb” style outline consisting of several paragraphs.

One constant will remain true as the programs/apps evolve:
The more human input received, the more “human” the end results will seem. More ambitious writers will still human-create chapter outlines/synopses, add and delete sentences, edit the A.I.-created sentences, etc.
And the A.I. will learn from all this! 😈

Obi-Wan Kenobi (Star Wars Episode II):
Well if droids could think, there’d be none of us here, would there?
Dex and Obi-Wan in diner

The “droids” in the Star Wars universe or ours might not be able to “think” (creatively), but as we all know, creative thinking is not in itself a prerequisite to writing. 😈😄😈😝
And even E.L. James-style tripe embodies a uniqueness future generations will likely never see; pure unfettered every-single-word human output unfiltered by any concerns of “taste” or decorum. The upcoming A.I. will write “better” than her in technical terms, but it will never match the best (or worst, in her case) of human prose.

The next Shakespeares, the next Hemingways and even the next E.L. James-es will all be at their day jobs; never to entrance, entertain us or even repulse us with their words, because it won’t be “their words”…

Welcome to the future.

Serial Killer: How The Binging Culture Affects Serial Fiction And Its Authors

The blogging world seems to agree on one thing: Pay the writer.

And we should. Without fiction and its authors, what sort of “culture” would exist?

There are plenty who won’t pay the writer, but even those who pay the writer can cause problems.

I’m talking about the practice of waiting for a book series to be completed, before buying it.

The Netflix Binge-Watching Culture has begun to bleed into the book world, and authors and publishers are already feeling the effects of this change.

Would we be able to read the Harry Potter Series today if everyone had waited until J.K. Rowling had finished writing “Deathly Hallows” to buy the series?

No.

If “The Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone” had not sold as well as it did, Rowling’s publisher likely would have dropped her, and the rest of the series might have ended up in the endless lower reaches of Amazon KDP, waiting an eternity to be discovered.

Of late, a few people have even had the nerve to suggest that, in this binge-reading climate, that publishers should not acquire trilogies and the like, until the author has finished writing the entire series. I guess these people would have wanted Joanne to stay on the dole for years and years more than she had to. 😈

In these days of shrinking advances, almost all authors have to work a day job, which consumes a large amount of time that could otherwise be spent writing. The general readership, by and large, seems to be blissfully unaware of this situation, and expects authors to crank out a 100,000 word masterpiece of a sequel in a few weeks.

Holding off on buying the first volume of a series “until the author is finished”, therefore insures the author has to continue to work their day job, slowing down the writing of the sequels, and may even doom the series outright if the publisher sees this as simply “bad sales”. Publishers are becoming more risk-averse by the minute, and they want results. The Big Five New York publishers were once known for developing properties they believed in, and giving them time to grow. Nowadays, you’re lucky if any publisher will ‘invest’ in further series development if the first volume doesn’t take off immediately.

All this notwithstanding, there are some compelling arguments for authors not to shop a series around until they’ve completed writing it. Prospective publishers will know in advance 😉 exactly how the series ends, and they don’t have to ‘worry’ about the author going off on some unforeseen wild tangent. Which makes me wonder if The Twilight Saga would have ever been picked up if they had been able to read the completed “Breaking Dawn” manuscript, replete with its gory birth scene, Jacob’s questionable imprinting, et cetera. Even if publishers reject the author’s completed series, the author can upload the whole series at once to Amazon KDP and (if nothing else) satisfy the “binge-reader” contingent.

We live in an impatient, instant-gratification culture, where authors and publishers will have to adjust their perspectives to stay relevant. We do need to educate the reader body that creating a series under these constraints in never easy, and on how readers’ early sales support keeps the books flowing. Publishers also need to keep in mind how the “binge-reader” culture affects early volume sales of serial fiction.

We may be heading for “don’t quit your day job until after you’ve finished your series” territory, nonetheless….

Guest Post: Daven Anderson “I survived Colorado Gold, and you can, too!”

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Blog Guest Post:
Daven Anderson “I survived Colorado Gold, and you can, too!”

By Daven Anderson

As we find ourselves enjoying another lovely fall season in colorful Colorado, some of you reading this may be lamenting that the only “Colorado Gold” you won last month were the fallen leaves you raked from your backyard.

You didn’t win. You didn’t final. Agents aren’t camping out in your backyard, contracts in hand.

Fear not, my literary friends, for I am here to tell you that you have not reached the end of your story.

Quite the opposite, in fact. You have reached the beginning.

The true prize from the Colorado Gold is not to win or final, but to learn. To learn to listen objectively, instead of taking constructive criticism personally. To learn that professional writing is a journey of the soul, not just a process. And to learn that the true skill a professional writer must demonstrate, on a daily basis, is perseverance. The best writer in the world is equal to the worst writer in the world, when both are writing nothing.

I still apply the many lessons I learned from my three-year Colorado Gold odyssey. One of which is that the qualities which make your odyssey personal are the oddities no one else can ever gain insight from. The criticisms you received are unique to you, your work, and the judges’ mood the evening they read your entry.

Some of you may choose not to re-enter a particular work in future years if it did not win or final in Colorado Gold. But those who can persevere, and learn from the criticisms, can make their work much stronger than it was before.

I entered the same novel in Colorado Gold three years in a row, 2010, 2011 and 2012. The latter two entries incorporated many hard-won revisions, in line with the insightful criticisms I received for my previous entries.

Re-reading my 2010 entry filled me with the urge to put a bag over my head. I am frankly shocked it scored as well as it did. After the 2010 contest, I was filled with the motivation to hone my skills.

In 2011, I entered Colorado Gold flush with confidence, knowing that my entry’s prose had improved a seeming ten-fold, compared to the foppish tones of its predecessor. The comments were much more positive overall, yet my score was only four points higher than the year before. In gearhead terms, my “new Mustang GT” barely beat my “clapped-out Pinto” when the final scores were tallied.

Ah, what to do for 2012? Maybe the judges were confused about the juxtapostion between my prologue and Chapter One. And I had heard much talk of prologues being anathema to agents and editors. So, for my 2012 Colorado Gold entry, time to broom the prologue and start with Chapter One.

Of course, my hard work in 2012 was rewarded with my lowest score yet. Yes, even my rank amateur 2010 entry outscored its 2012 successor. Yet the comments and critiques I received for the 2012 entry were notably more positive than for either of my previous entries. Even within the small world of Colorado Gold entries, the scores alone don’t tell the whole story. And this was the most important lesson I learned from that year’s contest.

Yes, my novel “Vampire Syndrome” failed to win or even final in Colorado Gold, for three years in a row. The only thing “Vampire Syndrome” had won by the end of 2012 was a publishing contract. I am far from being a unique example here, as a fair number of my fellow RMFW members also have released traditionally-published novels that did not win or final in Colorado Gold.

So, in summation, lament not your “loss” in Colorado Gold. Those who learn and persevere have what it takes to win the writing game. You may lose the “battle” of Colorado Gold, but the lessons you learn can lead you to your true victory. The triumph of prose, and the self.

SF Signal: Special Needs in Strange Worlds

A big thank you to Angie Hodapp for this link! 😀
SF Signal: Special Needs in Strange Worlds

SARAH: Is there enough disability in SFF?

ROB: I think there should be more.

So do I, and I wrote it: Vampire Syndrome

Where do you get your ideas?

RMFW Your Ideas

My interview on Chris Devlin’s Blog

Guest Author Daven Anderson on Vampires, Classic Cars, and Forks

Devlin: Where’s the best place to eat in Forks?

Daven: Outside the city, in the dense forest, when the Twi-hards are out at night looking for vampires.
“Pardon me, young ladies. It appears you’re looking for vampires. Forgive my impertinence for asking this question, but what exactly were you planning to do if you found one?”
*(screams)*

😈

Chiseled in Rock: What’s New from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers?

Early version of Vampire Syndrome: Sept. 2010 snippet

Here’s a previously unreleased snippet, © September 2010,

from the original version of Vampire Syndrome:

Who’s knocking? I hope it’s not Lilly.
What’s she saying? “Turn on the juice?” C’mon, sweetheart, I’m still half-asleep.
Wait, that’s not Lilly’s voice. It’s Zetania.
She knocks again and yells, “Turn on the news, Damien.”
“Be there in a minute,” I reply
The news? Did the Normals find Jack? Holy shit.
I reach over Stella, grab the remote and turn on the TV. Stella wakes up and asks me in a groggy voice, “What about the news?”
“Next on Eyewitness News,” the anchorman says, “A rancher has reported a mysterious cattle mutilation, north of Fort Morgan.”
Stella whispers, “Uh-oh.” She’s awake now.
Great. A Pure’s out in the sticks. Hopefully just one.
I put on my pajama pants, and rush to the door. Stella’s slips on her pink silk négligée. I let Zetania in, and she places her black duffel bag on my antique wood dresser.
“Hi, you two,” Zetania says.
I glance at the TV. A used car commercial.
“Tell those damn Pures to stay in Romania,” Stella replies.
Zetania unzips her duffel bag, and reaches inside.
“I’ll tell them with my Uzi,” Zetania retorts.
Look at that. The mini-Uzi made for the Romanian Military Police. Zetania didn’t even bother to paint over the “Poliţia Militară” logo.
“Do you need that just to hunt Jack?” Stella asks.
A news reporter comes on. “Last night in north Morgan County, cattle rancher Martin Rodriguez discovered the carcass of one of his cows, Mizzy. Mizzy was last seen alive around 7PM. Martin’s daughter found Mizzy’s carcass the next morning. The eyes, tongue, udder and tail had all been removed with surgical precision. The carcass was entirely drained of blood.”
The cow’s body appears on the screen. Zetania studies the TV picture.
“See how there’s not a drop of blood on the ground?” Martin asks the camera as he points to the grass.
“The Pures may have found out I left home,” Zetania says,”and one of them might be here in Colorado to ‘welcome’ me.”
“Maybe,” I suggest, “that secret airstrip of yours isn’t secret to them anymore.”
“They’ve never attacked it.”
“They’d be smart not to. They can just watch it from a distance. I bet they saw Lilly’s Gulfstream pick you up.”
“We have Security agents all over the area,” Zetania replies. “None of them have reported contact with any Pures.”
You’re focusing on the obvious, Zetania. A Venator needs to be a detective, not just a hunter.
“In Cluj, you all expect Pures to attack you, not evade you. My worry is when they don’t attack. That means they’re up to something. And at least one of your pale white shark-toothed friends made it here.”
“Do they still hide in shipping crates?” asks Stella.
“Yeah,” Zetania and I reply in unison.
They have to. They can’t pass for Normals, and their skin blisters and pops in direct sunlight. One reason why we moved the World Headquarters to Colorado back in 1904. Three hundred days of sunshine a year, average. A Pure’s worst nightmare.
“I’m worried there might be a group of Pures here,” I state. “They might be planning to hit this compound again.”
“No way, Damien,” Zetania snaps, “When Gl’Ag’s raiding party came here in 1904, you and Lilith killed his wife and three other Pures with your Gatling guns. And now you’ve stockpiled enough weapons to arm everyone here. Over five hundred of us.”
“Gl’Ag’s not gonna try and sneak up the main road again,” I say. “He barely made it out back in ’04, and we put a few bullets in him. We chased him as he ran away, but we couldn’t catch him. I’m still amazed that he made it back to your country. Today we have two guards with Miniguns, 24-7, in those same turrets Lilly and I used.”
“Gl’Ag? Didn’t you wreck your STI chasing him last year?” Stella asks Zetania.
“He snuck up on a Roma wagon camp,” Zetania replies. “That’s why I still check up on my distant relatives. They would have been easy prey for him, if I hadn’t been there.”
“Guess what Zetania was doing when Gl’Ag came?” I ask Stella.
“What?” Stella leans head toward me.
“The Gypsies were gathered around the campfire,” I explain, “and Zetania was reading them Vampire Moonlight: Bewareness.”
Stella laughs.
“What’s so funny?” Zetania asks.
“If there was such a thing as an irony meter,” I say, “you would have broken it. A real Vampire, reading a fictional vampire book to Gypsies who tell tales about real Vampires.”
“Better yet,” interjects Stella, “By chasing Gl’Ag away, she accidentally created a new Vampire tale for Roma folklore.”
Lady Dhamphir in the Black Subaru,” Zetania replies, “I’ve overheard it twice.”
Zetania’s so proud of herself. For blowing her cover, no less.
“Lucky you,” I growl. “Gypsies don’t tell their stories to outsiders,”
Zetania smiles and extends her fangs.
“Must be nice to live around Normals who don’t run their mouths,” I continue. “That lady in Grand Junction who backed her TrailBlazer into the ditch probably called the media before she called the tow truck. ‘Oh, I was getting away from a Vampire!’ Good thing no one believed her.”
“Normals don’t know about the hideout in Colorado National Monument,” Stella says, “Damien and I went there the next day, and we had a little talk with the squatters.”
“I told them if I had to come back again,” I state, “I’d bring Lilly with me.”
That sure got those little brats’ attention.