Six Questions with AI
As 2022 comes to an end, a lot of discussion in the creative community is centered around artificial intelligence. AI has been used by major news organizations for a number of years. In fact, The Associated Press dove into the world of AI in 2014, when its Business News Desk started automating stories about corporate earnings. OK, I thought, sorting through data and producing formulative stories is one thing, but AI will never be able to create the sorts of stories that make us feel. Or, can it.
This blog routinely poses six questions to a children’s author or illustrator. I ask about craft, inspiration, stumbling blocks. This week I decided to pose six questions to AI – specifically to Copymatic, a copywriting program powered by artificial intelligence. I was startled to find that, within 20 seconds of posing my question, this software could produce answers that were coherent and relevant (maybe frighteningly relevant!) Do I think AI will replace living/breathing writers and illustrators anytime soon? No, not for stories that really matter -- for stories with heart. I'd love to hear what you think. But first, check out AI’s responses for yourself.
1. How do you know your idea will make for a good book?
The best way to know if your idea will make for a good book is to ask yourself a series of questions. Is your idea something that you're passionate about? What age group does your idea appeal to? Is your idea unique? Once you've answered these questions, you can begin to develop your idea into a book proposal.
In general, a good idea for a book has a few key components. First, it should be something you’re passionate about. If you’re not excited about your idea, it will be difficult to get others excited about it too. Second, it should be an idea that can be fleshed out into a full-fledged story. And lastly, it should be an idea that’s unique – something that hasn’t been done before or that brings a fresh perspective to a familiar topic.
2. What are some of the key ingredients that make a great book for kids.
A great book for kids is one that is colorful, has a strong story arc, and is filled with interesting characters.
Energy, creativity, and a child-like sense of wonder are key ingredients for a great book for kids. But also important are strong storytelling, memorable characters, and vivid illustrations.
3. What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring children’s book authors?
Believe in yourself and your story. Writing a children's book is not an easy task, but it is so worth it when you see your finished product in the hands of a child who loves it. Develop a writing habit. A regular writing habit will not only make you a better writer, but it will also help you develop a strong work ethic which is essential for any author, especially those just starting out.
4. When you get stuck creatively, how do you get unstuck?
I'm glad you asked! I have a few techniques that help me when I'm feeling creatively stuck. The first thing I do is take a break. Sometimes, all you need is some time away from your project to clear your head. Once I've had some time to relax, I like to brainstorm with someone else. It's helpful to get another person's perspective on your work. If you don't have anyone you can bounce ideas off of, try writing down your ideas in a stream-of-consciousness style. Just let your thoughts flow onto the page without worrying about structure or grammar. Sometimes, the best way to get unstuck is to just start writing.
5. What are both the best and the most challenging aspects of writing for children?
The best aspect of writing for children is the opportunity to make a difference in their lives. To inspire them, to ignite their imagination, and to teach them something new. The most difficult aspect of writing for children is striking the balance between what they need and what they want. Too much of one or the other, and you lose them entirely.
6. To what extent is your work inspired by your childhood or by watching your own children?
I’d say it’s a mix of both. I definitely get ideas from my own experience and observations, but I also get a lot of inspiration from watching my kids grow and learn. Sometimes they’ll do or say something that will make me think, “Hey, that would make a great book!”