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. ๐Ÿ˜

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, โ€œJack Wendellโ€™s Vampire Syndrome.โ€ 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 Iโ€™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… ๐Ÿ˜‰
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. ๐Ÿ˜
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… ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

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 โ€œvelocity and frequency,โ€, he feels that this rarified group now gets an outsize amount of the limited spoils: bigger advances, more of retailersโ€™ limited space, and more of publishersโ€™ time and attention. โ€œThe more big authors a house publishes, the more they take away from all of the other authors,โ€ 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”… ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

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. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

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. ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜ˆ

No, wait, that’s too easy. ๐Ÿ˜ There has to be a catch. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ 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? ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

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… ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

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! ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

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. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜ˆ๐Ÿ˜
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.

Scary Musings on the Future

Ah, the 2010’s, the decade where it all fell apart. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

As this nightmare decade draws to a close, I sit back on the sidelines and contemplate where the creative world is now, how it became that way, and what will be in the future.
We all know damn well that “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” would not get published now, in fact they almost weren’t published back in the day.
Twilight Was Rejected Fourteen Times Before Being Accepted

How Many Times Was Harry Potter Rejected By Publishers?
The Answer:

Twelve times or twenty-two times, but this doesnโ€™t help you understand the present-day publishing climate.

The internet and the self-publishing industry have changed since the mid-1990s when Harry Potter was published. Rowling sent her submissions in as hardcopy and you would need to multiply twenty-two by at least a factor of four to get a reasonable comparison.

How many authors today are willing to get rejected (or ignored) hundreds of times?

Only the crazy ones, Iโ€™d guess.

“The Hunger Games” might still make it to print today, but it sure as hell would not be a movie trilogy in this Marvel day and age.

So now that the “movie-from-book” Golden Goose is cooked, what happens when the Marvel movie arcs runs their course, as is eventually inevitable?

Not my circus, not my white elephants… ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

Skeleton Writer

Vampire Syndrome 2009-2019: The Long, Strange, Epic Circle-Trip

On June 13, 2009, I conceived the world of “Vampire Syndrome”, the adventures of a young man with Down Syndrome suddenly thrust into the hidden underworld of Earth’s Vampires.

It’s now June 13, 2019, the tenth anniversary of the idea’s conception. If I hadn’t conceived of this saga, I’d be…

… exactly where I am right now, but with less Facebook friends. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

In 2009, I thought all this could be my ticket out of the mundane “worker bee” world. Ten years later, though, I’ve discovered some intriguing similarities between my “work path” and my “creative path”, where lessons I learned in one also applied equally to the other.

First, “work”. I’ve never been one to let a “standard job” (a position that can be performed by another person) define who I am. I didn’t hesitate to leave a job I’d held for 26ยฝ years, even though I incurred some notable losses to do so.

The reason? I saw firsthand what happens when someone’s regular job did define who they were. I watched a man who could have retired with a full pension in 2007, and who had a paid-for house and six figures in the bank; who instead chose to literally work himself into the grave, just because he enjoyed his duties on a clinically psychopathic level. Even after he became so debilitated that his doctors prohibited him from working, he drove several miles past several other stores, just to shop in ours.

In our seniority-based system, his refusal to retire also kept those of us under him “down a notch” for six years, all just so he could soldier on in vain until the doctors said he couldn’t.

Thanks to him, I swore I’d never be a “deadwood” in any endeavor, just taking up space when I could move on and let others rise up the ladder, as they should.

Turns out that 2007 would have been the perfect year for my co-worker to retire, for other reasons. Our employer and our store went into a tailspin in 2008/2009. Not notable in itself, as this happened “almost everywhere” at the time. The real problem was, we never recovered from the Great Recession. By the time I left my employer in Jan. 2016, we had less employee hours and sales that we did in January 2009! The saddest part about my co-worker’s fate is that his demise directly resulted from the increasing stress he had to endure from 2008 onward as our employer and store declined. I believe 100% that this man would still be alive and healthy today, if he had retired after 33 years of service in 2007 as he could and should have.

So, then, why did I stay as long as I did? To vest for my full pension credit, at 25 years of service. Becoming a “deadwood” is not for me, I will collect *my* pension the moment I can, and not a second later.

Once I had hit that 25-year mark, our employer had been bought out in a merger with another chain. Two once-big names, joining together to “increase their economies of scale.” Sound familiar? It should. Studebaker (America’s earliest mass-production vehicle manufacturer) and Packard (America’s premier volume luxury car brand before WWII) joined in this manner in 1954. Sears (America’s largest department store and catalog-order retailer for decades), joined forces with Kmart (America’s largest discount store chain, for several decades) in 2004.

Studebaker-Packard ceased auto manufacturing in 1966, twelve years after their merger.
Sears/Kmart; well, if you live in the United States, you already know how that’s turned out. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ
CNBC Article “Sears was toast since KMart merger”

Thus, after the merger, I expected our new ownership to tout the new company’s “increased economies of scale”as being our salvation, and enabler of future growth. Also known as the inevitable “warning cue” that the new merged-out-of-necessity company will eventually die at some point in the future, because the resulting combined company doesn’t have the size scale that even one of its halves had at their peak (as with Sears/Kmart and Studebaker/Packard, among others).

Problem was, this time our “new” company wasn’t even pretending anything would improve (at least here in Denver), so I knew it was time to get out of there, “yesterday”. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

Indeed, by all accounts related to me by current employees and customers, conditions have become even worse since I left. I now suspect the company’s Denver arm is a prime candidate to be bought out by Amazon, who is starting a new conventional grocery chain to supplement their premium chain, Whole Foods. Amazon is slated to open the first stores in the new chain by end of 2019. And Amazon lockers are now popping up in my former employer’s stores, possibly a “clue in plain sight” as to their fate. I could have been out on the street next year, and lost out on seven years’ worth of pension payments, had I not left when I did back in 2016, when the getting (out) was good.

***

While all this unfolded, a parallel development occurred in my life. In early 2009, a co-worker lent me the four Twilight Saga books. I thought to myself, “I could write something better than that.”

So I did.

Without any objective analysis of whether such project would be commercially viable, or could even reach its intended audience.

Since I also wanted my project to be “Better than Twilight” on an actual technical writing level as well, I enlisted in a highly regarded professional writing critique group, and refined “Vampire Syndrome” to the Nth degree for three years, whilst during this same time period E.L. James was beginning to post the fan fiction that eventually begat her “Fifty Shades Of Grey”series.

Perhaps my goal should have been to be technically “worse” than “Twilight”, not “better”, but that’s another story. James’ story, to be exact. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ
Don’t #AskELJames , Don’t Tell

Once “Vampire Syndrome” was completed in 2012, every ‘creative’ person I encountered gushed over this “million-dollar idea”, and I received nothing but encouragement to seek publication for it. The major New York publishers all passed on it, in their search for the next big cash cow (which turned out to be, you guessed it, “Fifty Shades Of Grey”!).

A small press, PDMI Publishing, LLC, picked up “Vampire Syndrome” in 2013, and it appeared at least I could make some sort of mark with it, in spite of the Big Five’s lack of enthusiasm for so-called “million-dollar ideas”.

The problem there was, the local bookstores for whom the small presses had traditionally looked to as targets to distribute their books to, started to turn their collective noses up to any books not published by the Big Five, dooming hundreds of small presses to their demise within a few years. In a stunning irony, the decline of national chain bookstores such as Borders and Barnes & Noble enabled the local bookstores to take their place as relentless pushers of “Big Five books only”.
How Indie Bookstores Are Killing Indie Books

In an even higher level of irony, the local bookstores’ hitching their wagon exclusively to the Big Five also means they are quite dependent on Barnes & Noble’s continued existence as well. If the new owners of B&N ever decide to liquidate the chain, the Big Five will take a huge hit, likely shrinking to the Big Four or even Three to blood-let down to the level where local bookstores and mass retailers would be able to support what’s left of them. Which will also greatly reduce the diversity of the books on local’s shelves. The perfect karmic payback for their rejecting the small presses. All the small press books and authors they could have been selling have long since gone off to Amazon, taking with them the shelf diversity local bookstores once prided themselves on.
Kristen Lamb:
Play to Win: Authors, Empires & Why Amazon is Killing NYC Publishing
Barnes & Noble SOLD: Goliath has Fallen & What This Means for Writers

With the Big Five New York publishers’ acquisition standards becoming more and more restrictive and formulaic as time marched on, Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing became inundated with books, making “discovery” a huge problem for all non best-seller authors. Just type in “vampire” into Amazon’s Search, and you’ll see what I mean. And now the Big Five’s standards have tightened to the point where authors will only send them the type of projects they think will be the next “trend” for the Big Five to acquire. If “bullying” is the next perceived trend, literary agents’ inboxes will soon be filled with queries for “bullying” novels. We have reached a point where authors will not even bother to query the unique works they created from their “heart”, leaving those works to the vast, in-discoverable voids of Amazon, and we are all the poorer in creative reader and author spirit for this.

So, once PDMI closed its doors, my two completed Vampire Syndrome Saga novels headed for Smashwords, because I admire Mark Coker’s business model and his dedication to the true spirit of independent author voices, which the Big Five publishers and their local bookstore “pets” have long since foresaken. It also doesn’t hurt my “discoverability” that there are only half a million or so books on Smashwords, versus twelve-million plus on Amazon, meaning someone is “24 more times likely” (in general statistic terms) to discover my book through a keyword search.

I did mention that other ‘creatives’ such as fellow authors, just loved my “million-dollar idea”. One of them was Joel Eisenberg, Hollywood development producer and author of his own “The Chronicles Of Ara” book series. Joel, a former teacher for special-education students, loved my character Jack Wendell, a young man with Down Syndrome, and how Jack dealt with the challenges of being accepted into a world of Vampires who were biased against him to the point of ordering Jack’s assassination.
Joel Eisenberg Review of “Vampire Syndrome”

So Joel, God bless him, pitched “Vampire Syndrome” as a television project through the inner hallways of Hollywood.

Which turned out pretty much like I suspected it would. Hollywood, like the Big Five, goes for the easy money cash cows. Sequels, reboots, etc. If nothing else, at least my project left a few Hollywood execs hunched around Beverly Hills meeting room tables scratching their heads going “WTF?”, during pitches that briefly interrupted their plans to reboot some other very-well-known property for the eighth-zillionth time. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

Same thing as the Big Five. The ‘creatives’ loved it, but as far as the “suits” are concerned, my “million-dollar idea” won’t buy me a cup of coffee at Starbucks. The unique curse of my “million-dollar idea” was that only some other creatives were excited about it, when I had really written it to reach John and Jane Q. Public. People said they wanted something “better and more original than Twilight”; I built it, but they didn’t come. The “suits” and the public went for Fifty Shades and the endless reboots instead.

Not exactly encouragement for me to write any “hundred-thousand-dollar” ideas, is it? ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

So, as I close the chapter on the Chapters and move on with my life, I can reflect on my epic, strange circle-jerk to “nowhere”; a Hunter S. Thompson-worthy grand hallucination that somehow came full circle to where I started, leaving me with a new and profound appreciation for how good my “normal” life really is. If I wish to indulge in some “vain hope” in the future, I can just buy some lottery tickets. After all, the odds are about the same as making it big in the publishing world, and it doesn’t consume a year or more of all your free time (plus editing, formatting, cover design, promotion, et.cetera, afterward!) just to write a lottery ticket. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ
Finally, I have a well-reasoned comeback for anyone who ‘critiques’ me for buying lottery tickets. A few seconds each time of handing over $5 every now and again, or years and years spent writing tales that are ignored? Damn, I might be too rational to be an author, now that I think about it. Authors always seem emotionally attached to their creations, their characters; but if no one else relates to your characters, what’s the point?

There I go making sense again…

If anything about all this disappoints me, it’s that my saga had the potential to raise general awareness about people with special needs, and possibly have opened/changed minds of some of the prejudiced. But it could not do this without reaching wide distribution, and without the ” suits’ ” support, this will never happen.

Thus, the time I would have spent writing “in vain” is much better spent by volunteering for Special Olympics and other organizations that make a real (not fictional) difference in the lives of those with special needs.

Instead of “writing to make a difference”, I will make a difference in the real world. The “sword” (physical action) is now mightier than the “pen” (ideas/concepts), in this case.

And, unlike so many other blogs from the “early 2010’s heyday of blogging” that just ceased after some random post, this one gets a proper closure.

To sum it up, my advice is “Never forget the original purpose of why you are doing something.” Keep asking yourself, “Are my long-term actions still true to my original goals and intent?” Most important, if you are no longer fulfilling your original purpose (without a better purpose taking its place), take corrective action.

There are the rare few whose long-term vocations/avocations evolve into a better purpose than was originally planned. If this is your case, you are truly blessed. Carry on!

The rest of us are still lucky to stay true to the original purposes. I joined my former employer thirty years ago, for a safe, secure career with a long-term company. Twenty-five years later, the long-term security of my career became questionable. So I quit.

My goal with writing fiction was to reach the public, cause relevant discussions, inspire people, and in the best case provide the spark for some people to overcome their prejudices. Despite the love for the story shown by a few other creatives along the way, this didn’t happen. So I quit.

Thank you to all who supported me over the ten years of this “trip”.

Zero Shades Of Vetting

One of the reasons why people defend the traditional publishing industry is because it has always stood for literary quality.


๐Ÿ˜ˆ

Well, okay, at least you have the assurance that even a book like Snooki’s was vetted.

In this case, “vetted” meaning somewhere between heavily edited and entirely ghost-written.

It’s not like someone could write BDSM-themed Twilight fan fiction and get it printed in paper form by a major publisher with no vetting, right?


๐Ÿ™„

Vampires.com – Another Naughty XXX Twilight Fan Fic Scores Huge Publishing Deal

Biting Edge: Money, Money, Money