One of the things a lot of authors get stuck on is how to prompt the AI to give them what they want in a scene. My good friend, Elizabeth Ann West, recommends a method called DO-WHAT-HOW, but I find that the method DO-THIS-WITH makes more sense to me.
“Do” refers to the action that the AI should take. This could be writing, creating, designing, or any other action that you want the AI to perform. Consider what you need from the AI before you begin prompting so that you know what to ask for. The “Do” part of the prompt helps define the scope of the request and what the AI should do.
“This” refers to the desired outcome or result of the AI’s actions. It provides the AI with a clear definition of what you want to achieve. This part of the prompt helps the AI understand what the final product should look like. For many authors, this is the crucial part of the command. What will you be asking for? 300 words? Five paragraphs of at least four sentences a piece? A detailed Save the Cat outline? Consider asking for a precise amount of words or a specific format.
“With” refers to the information or resources that the AI should use to complete the task. This could include data, sources, examples, or any other information that the AI needs to perform the task correctly. The “With” part of the prompt helps ensure that the AI has all the information it needs to generate a high-quality result. This information could be anything related to your query. Characters, Setting, Situation, a book blurb, a log line… any information you already have that will make the output unique to you.
Here are a few additional tips to help you get the best results when working with an AI:
- Be specific and clear: When providing instructions, it’s important to be as specific and clear as possible. This helps the AI understand exactly what you want and reduces the chances of misunderstandings or mistakes.
- Provide relevant information: When you provide the information the AI should use (With), make sure it is relevant and up-to-date. The AI can only work with the information it has, so providing accurate and relevant information is crucial for getting the best results.
- Provide context: If your request is complex or requires background knowledge, it’s helpful to provide some context or background information to help the AI understand the request better.
- Be patient: AI models can process a large amount of information quickly, but they still take some time to generate a response. Be patient and give the AI enough time to process your request and generate a response.
By using the method of “Do, This, With,” you are providing the AI with clear and concise instructions on what to do, what the desired outcome is, and what information to use. This can help the AI understand your request better and generate more accurate and relevant results.
Here are a few examples of how to construct your prompts! In my first example, I always show you how the prompt is broken down, and then below that, I show you how to ask in plain English. BOTH WORK. If you prefer to prompt in a more programmatic way, you can use the first and always just switch out your command.
Do: Write. This: A science fiction novel 3-Act outline. With: The following plot summary – “In a future where humans have colonized Mars, a group of settlers must band together to fight off an alien invasion.”
Please write a science fiction novel 3-Act outline using the following plot summary- “In a future where humans have colonized Mars, a group of settlers must band together to fight off an alien invasion.”
Do: Create. This: A fantasy world with unique creatures and magic. With: The following specifications – “The world should have dragons, unicorns, and two distinct types of magic – elemental magic and necromancy.”
Create a fantasy world with unique creatures and magic using the following specifications – “The world should have dragons, unicorns, and two distinct types of magic – elemental magic and necromancy.”
And there’s this one that could be used with image generators (although it would need to be formatted differently for something like Midjourney.)
Do: Design. This: A book cover for a mystery novel. With: The following guidelines – “The cover should feature a dark cityscape with a silhouette of a detective in the foreground, holding a magnifying glass.”
Design a book cover for a mystery novel using the following guidelines – “The cover should feature a dark cityscape with a silhouette of a detective in the foreground, holding a magnifying glass.”
I decided that it would be fun to ask the AI to fulfill one of the prompts it gave me as an example. Here I’m using ChatGPT.
Certainly! Here’s a brief description of a fantasy world with unique creatures and magic, as per your specifications:
In this world, dragons are revered as powerful and majestic creatures. They are known for their ability to control the elements and are often sought after by wizards and sorcerers for their elemental magic. Unicorns, on the other hand, are seen as graceful and mysterious beings with a connection to the spiritual realm. They possess the power of necromancy and are rumored to have the ability to communicate with the dead.
Elemental magic is a form of magic that allows the user to control the elements of nature – fire, water, air, and earth. Wizards who specialize in elemental magic are often feared for their ability to summon devastating natural disasters. Necromancy, on the other hand, is a more secretive and forbidden form of magic. It allows the user to communicate with the dead and control their spirits.
In this world, dragons and unicorns are not the only unique creatures. There are many other magical creatures that roam the lands, each with their own unique abilities and powers. The use of magic is regulated by a powerful council of wizards and sorcerers, but there are still those who practice magic in secret, outside of their jurisdiction.
This is just a brief description of the fantasy world with unique creatures and magic that you specified. I hope it provides a good starting point for your imagination!
Additional AI Fiction Writing Tips
Here are a few additional tips for fiction authors who want to use AI to help with brainstorming and writing their fiction:
- Start with a clear idea: Before you start working with an AI, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to write about. This could be a general concept, a plot summary, or a specific scene. The more clear and specific your idea, the more likely the AI is to generate results that match your vision.
- Provide examples: If you’re having trouble communicating your vision to the AI, consider providing examples of writing that you like or that are similar to what you want to create. This can help the AI better understand your style and preferences.
- Use a conversational tone: When you’re communicating with the AI, try to use a conversational tone. This can help the AI understand your requests better and generate more natural and coherent responses.
- Be open to new ideas: While it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to write about, it’s also important to be open to new ideas. The AI may suggest plot twists, characters, or settings that you hadn’t considered before. Consider incorporating these ideas into your writing if they fit with your vision.
- Revise and edit: The AI can generate text quickly, but it’s important to remember that this text may need revisions and edits. Be prepared to spend time reviewing and refining the text generated by the AI to ensure that it meets your standards and reflects your writing style.
I hope these tips help you make the most of AI when brainstorming and writing your fiction. Good luck with your writing!