For florid purple prose, just ask an AI - Authors A.I.

JD Lasica
March 4, 2024

purple prose

Claude can create over-the-top passages without much prompting

Many of you may be familiar with the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest, the annual competition that invites participants to write an atrocious opening sentence to the worst novel never written. Here, for instance, is the 2023 grand prize winner:

“She was a beautiful woman; more specifically she was the kind of beautiful woman who had an hourlong skincare routine that made her look either ethereal or like a glazed donut, depending on how attracted to her you were.”

Well, move over, Bulwer Lytton, because AI is in the house.

The only thing is: Generative AI doesn’t have a clue how laughable some of its output is. And I mean that literally. Check it out:

“Her heaving bosom was constrained by the tight bodice of her gown, like two trembling doves longing to take flight.”

“His smoldering eyes, dark as sin, pierced her very soul and set her maidenly heart aflutter.”

“Her petal-soft lips tasted of honeyed nectar, an intoxicating wine that fueled his rapacious hunger for more.”

Why you must train your AI

The past weekend was a reminder of the old tech adage, Garbage In, Garbage Out. In the age of artificial intelligence, that truism now means that if you’re, say, a romance author and you don’t properly train your AI “model,” you’re likely to see generated text that no self-respecting author would use. (Let’s put aside for the moment the debate over whether authors should use generative AI-crafted text in their works at all.)

On Saturday, romance author Rachelle Ayala, a top contributor at the AI Writing for Authors Facebook group, presented a 2 ½-hour webinar on AI and romance fiction writing titled, “From Meet-Bot to AI-Do: Introduction to AI for Romance Authors.” If she gives it again, I heartily recommend it for her breadth of knowledge and hands-on tactical advice.

She offered guidance on how to train models like ChatGPT-4 and Claude 2.0 to imitate your own writing style. But it’s a somewhat involved process, and out of the gate if the AI is just told to write prose for an erotic romance or contemporary romance work in progress, it will often produce sentences like the passages below from Claude shared by her fellow writers (with apologies to Rachelle for borrowing these examples from her handouts).

“She gasped as his strong, masculine hands encircled her delicate waist, the touch of his fingers setting her alabaster skin ablaze with fiery longing.”

“His molten caress seared her alabaster skin as he deftly stripped away her last vestiges of modesty, baring her secrets to his smoldering gaze.”

“She was as a forbidden fruit, ripe for the plucking, and his masculine greed threatened to tear asunder his gentlemanly restraint.”

“His chiseled muscles rippled with raw power as he held her quivering body close to his granite chest.”

“Their passion crested like a wave against the shore, an untamed force of nature consuming them in its fiery embrace.”

“She was as a siren calling to him, her curves like rolling waves breaking upon craggy cliffs – dangerous, alluring, and infinitely seductive.”

“His every touch lit her aflame, an exquisite torture that had her hungering for his virile manhood to extinguish the blaze set alight within her loins.”

“The hardened planes of his sun-kissed body promised untold carnal delights, and she quivered at the thought of his imminent possession.”

“His smoldering eyes devoured her, igniting a quaking deep in her womanly core that portended the delights to come.”

“She trembled under his heated caress, sensations blossoming across her skin like spring flowers under the dawn’s radiance.”

There were many more AI-generated samples, but these should suffice. (Which one was your favorite?)

Are these over the top? For sure. Romance writing in particular is full of flowery language, but these cringe-worthy examples just made me chuckle.

So authors, the lesson is this: Be sure to train — and tame — your AI or your prompts may be filled with purple prose.

Flower image by Michael Roper (CC BY SA)

For more on how Authors A.I. uses A.I. to help authors write books readers love, check out this post:

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