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Can ChatGPT Outline a Web Novel?

Updated: Jan 7

Using AI to automate our daily tasks, including schoolwork and drafting emails, has become the rage in this generation. Ever since the popularity of ChatGPT, even writers have wondered how far AI will be able to develop.

Disclaimer: The only version of ChatGPT I've tried is free, and the information might not be up to date with the latest version or paid version of it.

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Below is a stream I did using ChatGPT to see if it could write an outline for stories based on the Webnovel Writing Prompt Contest topics given. You can watch more on my Youtube Channel.

If you're too lazy to watch my live streams, I'll condense what I think ChatGPT can and cannot do for writers.

The short answer: Yes, ChatGPT can help you outline an entire novel.

However, AI isn't infallible. This is where I would debate that artificial intelligence is limited to what they are fed. Unlike humans, they lack experience and only extrapolate known patterns instead of discovering new kinds. They're unable to evolve naturally with experiences but will slowly learn to adapt according to the user's preference over a long period. That process is the most frustrating for me.

Before I discuss the following pros and cons of using ChatGPT to outline your novels, here are what you'd need to provide the AI:

  • Names (eg: Adam Stallion, Eve Winter etc)

  • Genere (eg: royal marriage and rebellion, apocalyptic, vr gaming reality etc)

  • Setting of the world (eg: In France 1920s, New York early 2000s, small rural village in China etc)

  • Type of tone and style of voice (eg: sardonic third person, dreamy romantic, first person with Asperger etc)

  • Character's personality (eg: bubbly but smart, cold and ruthless, polite but calculative, quiet but intense etc)

  • main highlight of the plot (eg: bride gets kidnapped by a unicorn and learns that the unicorn was her brother who was cursed by her husband's mother who was mind-controlling her son to marry her and turn her into another puppet to rule the kingdom from behind the scenes etc)

  • targeted readers (eg: teenage girls, age 22-25, similar to readers of Harry Potter etc)

As AIs like ChatGPT are programmed to look at certain keywords for 'content creation', they cannot create without pre-specified perimeters. You also need to put in some work and use the correct keywords to achieve the ideal results from their extensive database.

What ChatGPT CAN do:

  • Create a well-paced outline based on your plot events provided (goodbye development editors!)

  • Adjust the length of the outline based on your estimated word count of the novel (eg: 80,000 words etc)

  • Include new events into the existing outline according to your inputs

  • Refer to best-selling books for similar outlines for your work

  • Imitate an outline of an existing book to create your book's outline using it

  • Rearrange the order of your outline sequence based on the pacing requirements of the story if you specify (eg: slow burn romance, high suspense and cliff hanger etc)

What ChatGPT CANNOT do:

  • Create an 'original' outline without input from your end or anything that isn't on the internet

  • Guarantee the outline when written into a book, will be the exact number of words you want it to be

  • Make the outline 'special' or niche in the market (the information ChatGPT uses are those 'proven' strategies from mainstream)

  • Give you research-proven facts in the outline

  • Include personal opinions or experience

That said, you can and probably should use ChatGPT to outline your work before starting on the book as it acts like a developmental editor and helps a writer think faster. ChatGPT is great at analysing information available and will be able to reflect what would take humans hours or weeks to cope.

I like the 'demo' feature that the AI has. For instance, it gives you an outline that you like 90% of it but aren't sure how to proceed about it in which style. Hence, you can always tell it to write out a part of the outline like the first arc in 500 words using a particular style you're thinking about. If you don't like it or need tweaks to see a difference, you can get ChatGPT to continue writing that same arc in 50 different ways within minutes to settle on the one you vibe with the most.

In conclusion...

I hope using ChatGPT can make outlining and drafting books less intimidating to new authors. I know I talked about pacing and outlining in my e-course before and it might feel very tedious and overwhelming for new authors. Thankfully, we have technology that can be used by anyone at any level. Don't be afraid to exploit it! As long as you're using it without the intention to harm anyone, it's fair in my books.

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