Could Artificial Intelligence Help You Write Better Characters?

This clever use of AI serves as a great writing prompt

Artificial intelligence could transform the way writers think about character workshopping.

If you’ve ever used a random name generator to give you inspiration for a character name, then you should consider using an AI-powered photo generator such as thispersondoesnotexist.com as a character-writing exercise.

Writing Prompt

Look at the person you are being shown. What is their name? Where do they live? Do they have any particular mannerisms? What keeps them up at night? Where do they do their shopping? What state are their finances in?

What about their family and friends — what do they look like? Repeat the exercise until you have a web of characters who are all connected to one another. What’s the story underpinning their relationships? From there you can build a short story, or even a novel.

Each time you refresh thispersondoesnotexist.com, the website shows you a photograph of a person who looks real, but in reality, doesn’t exist. These convincing-looking pictures are generated using the same AI technology that is widely criticised (including by myself) for having the potential to create realistic deepfakes of living people for personal gain.

Photo by Franki Chamaki on Unsplash

Writing Prompt

If you don’t think the photos generated by the website look convincing enough, then write about that. Describe what makes them look slightly unnerving, only just passing as human. Create an army of cyborgs who threaten your human protagonist.

Using this technology for creative purposes is a far less harmful use. In fact, creating a set of characters based on an AI-generated photoset may help novice writers to avoid writing characters that are too much like themselves, or who are based on people they know — thereby avoiding the slighted feelings or lawsuits that accompany modelling characters too closely on living, breathing people.

TIP— if you’re planning on writing a longer piece about one of the ‘characters’ you are shown using the generator, be sure to take a screenshot as the generator shows you a different image each time you refresh the page.

Try using this tool as a writing prompt, and let me know how you get on in the comments below!

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The Indiependent Founder, NCTJ qualified journalist, Oxford University grad. Interested in tech, political communication & data ethics. Tweets: @BettyKirkers

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