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Exploring AI in novel writing

I found this website called talktotransformer.com that uses AI to write articles based on keywords and the first sentence.

I thought it might be fun to add in the opening sentence of some of the top novels of all time to see what alternative versions might read like. Check it out.

Ulysses
James Joyce (1922)

Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. He said: ‘Come, young man. Let’s sit down for a bit. I’ve a proposition to make. You’ll need it soon enough.’

The little boy said: ‘A proposition?’

‘Yes, young man, a proposition. Do you know what the game of chess is?’

‘I do, I do. It’s like playing poker, only a whole lot more fun.’

‘Exactly. And what I want you to do is to play it for me. Now, you needn’t worry about your first move. The first move is the queen.’

‘A queen?’

‘Yes, that’s it, a queen.’

‘How do I know that?’

‘Because a queen always wins.’

Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen (1813)

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. And when you hear of a man who can find no wife, you can only conclude that, as the world is nothing but a pack of lies, it is not very likely that such a man has any.”

“The world, then,” said I, “is a lie.”

“You, sir,” said he, “do not see it. If you were to look at the world as it is, you would soon see that there are very few men at present to whom marriage is an object; and that if the world was not a lie, but that it was true, you would find it quite possible to live without it. I say, sir, that you do not see it, but that you do see the world as it is.”

Jane Eyre
Charlotte Brontë (1847)

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. The only option was to hike the 10km trail. The idea of climbing the mountain at the same time as an elephant seemed unreal to us. However, we decided to do it, and after that there was nothing in the world we could do.

There was no way to walk back down the mountain. We climbed again. This time we could walk for about 20 minutes. But we were very tired, and when we were almost at the bottom of the mountain, we decided to turn around.

We were so tired that we were not even able to walk in a straight line, because we had to sit down. The only way to go was through a narrow gap of grass. This way, we did not even make it to the other side of the mountain.

On the other side, we could walk for about 10 minutes, when a huge group of elephants appeared from nowhere. The elephants took one look at us and kept going.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain (1884)

You don’t know about me, without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by a Mr Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly.

But this ain’t no book, and it ain’t no history.

This is the story of what happened when Tom Sawyer, the hero of the world, started his journey home. And I believe he had a purpose in this journey. I believe he had a purpose in life. I believe he had a purpose in his life that he never knew existed.

And that purpose was to be a hero, to become a legend.

And he did, for I believe that’s what he was destined to do. But to be a legend, you gotta come back.

You gotta come back.

The Luck of the Bodkins
PG Wodehouse (1935)

Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French. In an Englishman who, having seen in Paris the same beauty which he had first seen at Cannes, can look back and say “I did not know it then, but I did know it now,” a certain pride and prideful self-possession is evinced. For in England we have in the eyes of the foreigner the same feelings and the same feelings are the cause of the same self-possession. In England we can look at France with the eyes of the Englishman. For the Englishman who is a Frenchman, and loves France, can look at the French with the eyes of a Frenchman.

Earthly Powers
Anthony Burgess (1980)

It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me. “The archbishop,” he said, “has come to see me.”

“Oh,” I cried. “Yes, Ali!”

“He wants to talk to me.”

“What does he want to talk about?”

“He wants to know if I ever thought about him after I heard he was going to heaven. I don’t know what to say. He can say whatever he wants. He’s a great big man.”

I had to say that I did think about him, but it was just a thought, nothing more. Ali was very angry.

“Well, Ali, what do you think?”

“I think he’s lying!”

“Oh, that’s all right, then.

I Capture the Castle
Dodie Smith (1948)

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. I am surrounded by water. The sink is the most important thing in the world to me right now. I am a big fan of sinks, but if I didn’t have a sink I couldn’t drink from the bathroom sink, and I definitely couldn’t eat out of the sink.

As I write this I am surrounded by water. The sink is the most important thing in the world to me right now. I am a big fan of sinks, but if I didn’t have a sink I couldn’t drink from the bathroom sink, and I definitely couldn’t eat out of the sink.

This is where I am standing, at least until I can get to a bathroom that doesn’t require me to put on a bikini or go to a hotel. The kitchen sink is also a place to dump all my food and anything that could be thrown in the sink. I use the sink to clean dishes. There’s not really a place for it.

The Bell Jar
Sylvia Plath (1963)

It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York. I was there for a book signing, and it was very exciting. I didn’t know anything about the Rosenbergs or anything like that. But the place was packed. I didn’t get the feeling that a lot of people were there to see me. I was there to meet an agent, because I didn’t have much hope of getting published.

’But when I saw the agent’ he came over and I think I had been in his office for a while and he was trying to sell me a story about a young man, a young Jewish student, who goes off and joins the Yippies, and the FBI finds out, and this young Jew is sentenced to life in prison. And the agent was trying to sell me this story.

The Secret History
Donna Tartt (1992)

The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation. We were about to be cut off from the world of the living and would not be able to help Bunny if he was lost.

“I am willing to give up my life for my daughter. I am willing to die for her. But I will never allow her to die. I will never let her be alone.”

Bunny’s voice grew as he spoke, as if he had lost control of his emotions. His body began to shake and I realized his voice was shaking more than usual.

“Bunny, do you want to make love to your daughter?”

My son’s voice was trembling. I did not know what to do. My head was spinning and I realized that I was about to lose my mind. I was about to have a breakdown.

Treasure Island
Robert Louis Stevenson (1883)

Squire Trelawnay, Dr Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17– and go back to the time when my father kept the Admiral Benbow inn and the brown old seaman with the sabre cut first took up his lodging under our roof. This man’s name was, I believe, Henry, or Humphrey, which I never knew, and we never had occasion to talk of the sea or the sea life to him, but he talked about books and bookshelves and how much he loved his little book-shelf which he had in the kitchen, and about the sea and the sea-birds and what the sea had to do with his work in the ship, and he talked about nothing else.

So that’s exploring AP in novel writing. There’ll be another post In a few weeks about something completely different, but something that has piqued my curiosity. You can get it earlier via my newsletter.

By Duncan McKean

Fuelled by good music and damn fine coffee.

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