The AI Experiment - A Stranger Comes to Town

Hey folks -

A couple weeks ago I decided to try writing a story with AI Dungeon, a tool for generating text based off what you’ve already typed. I wanted to share a few thoughts I’ve had on it, and see if anyone had any questions or things they wanted to discuss around AI stories.

I know there was controversy around the other couple AI assisted stories that have been published. My goal here was to see if I could learn to use the AI to write really good stories. From my ratings through ‘A Stranger Comes to Town’, I’d say I’ve succeeded. None of them are chart toppers, but they’ve all done decently, especially after I got through the growing pains of the first couple stories.

‘Stranger’ ended up being more than 4 times the length of my longest piece until now, and I was able to produce it daily. Now, granted, I put a lot of time into it, but I think that says something really cool about how AI tools can help an author get through a large piece of work without loosing steam. Whenever I got stuck, I’d just ask the AI to write something. Either it would give me something good, or my brain would go “No, it should be…” and then boom, I was writing again.

AI text generation isn’t really good for plotting. You have to do that on your own, and I found that I had to pull the AI in the direction I wanted it to go. Once you’ve got it on a roll, it tends to produce pretty good content (like sex scenes, where it picks up right away and can practically write on its own), but you need to steer the ship.

For a typical chapter, I’d write 200 - 500 words myself to get the ball rolling, then probably 50% of the words in the rest of the story. It’s important to seed it with good data. If you just give it a simple sentence to start, the AI will tend to feel generic.

I’m curious what kinds of questions or input or feedback you all might have around my AI story experiment.

-Derek

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Hey Derek - I’d be interested to know if there were any guides you used to figure out how to navigate the AI interface. I just checked it out, and I have no clue how to make it work. I can see AI helping me quite a bit with my writing, as I get overwhelmed coming up with all the details myself.

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Good question. I didn’t use any guides, but here’s what I did.

  • I went to https://play.aidungeon.io and selected the ‘New Game’ button.
  • I selected the ‘Single Player’ option.
  • I typed ‘6’ (for a custom game) in their text entry box and hit enter.
  • I copied in a couple hundred words that I’d written to start the story and hit enter.

Then once you’re actually writing, there are a few controls to know:

  • The text box is where you write what you want to happen next. Throughout my writing, I just wrote here as I normally would. I didn’t try to ‘give instructions’ to the AI, I just wrote the next line of the story.
  • The arrow icon (it looks like a paper airplane I guess?) is what you click when you’ve finished entering a line. In most cases that’ll just add what you wrote to your story, though sometimes the AI immediately adds more. You can also click the arrow with a blank textbook, and the AI will try to add some more to the story. It takes a few seconds.
  • Above the textbox, there’s a ‘reload’ button. If you press this, the AI will delete the last bit it contributed and try again. Sometimes I would hit this five or six times before I found a direction I wanted to go in.
  • Above the textbox, there’s also a ‘pin’ icon. This shows a box where you can enter up to a thousand letters of information you want the AI to remember while it helps you write. I tried this once and didn’t find it super helpful, so I’m the wrong guy to ask how to use it effectively.
  • Above the textbox, there’s also a ‘pencil’ icon. This takes the last text that was entered (either by you or the AI) and allows you to edit it. Press the ‘arrow’ button to save your edit. I used this a lot when I wanted to change a word or five to make the story go the way I wanted.
  • There are two arrows above the textbox too - ‘forward’ and ‘back’. These are undo and redo arrows. If you don’t like the last thing the AI wrote, and don’t want to refresh it, hit undo and that will go away.

That’s basically it. It’s worth noting, I was using the paid version of AI Dungeon with the ‘Dragon’ model selected in the settings. This is a more advanced model, and much easier to write with.

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Derek that’s really helpful. Just fooling aeound with the free version has been great fun and enjoyable for my own fun, but I was impressed at the detail it could produce once a story was going long enough. I’d read that the paid engine is more powerful. I found occasionaly it would get confused with names & also, despite pinning the fact that my charachter was gay and transforming other gym users, it fell back into straight romance after some pretty raunchy gay scenes. But nothing a human edit couldn’t change. After the first 2 stories (which I still loved) I’m not sure we could have said it was AI aided. I also dnjoyed you turning upnst the end (or did the AI randomly choose your name and you rolled with it?) I assumed it was like a master painter, painting their self portrait into their masterpiece

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Personally I like you’re other stories a bit more. These all seemed to be a little bit more stiff and clunky. I could still get into some because I’m really into some of the fetishes, but I still prefer it when you’re writing your just doing it yourself.

However, I am curious about your experience because with a bit more editing it would have been really really hard to tell that it was AI generated.

How steep was the learning curve when you started? Like was it hard at the beginning and then you figured out a few things that made it easier as you went on or was it about the same difficulty the entire time? I tried it but got bored after a few sentences because the AI just gave me back really generic responses so I felt more like I was just with a really bad RP partner instead of something helping me write a story.

Did the AI give you more than one or two sentences at a time?

Did it struggle with dialogue? Or did it eventually start to learn character quirks? Or even start to try to make some of it’s own for characters?

Did it ever forget who a character was, or when the character changed? I could see it having difficulty having evidence about a character and then when it’s switched, it won’t really know what to do.

Did it ever offer up a change to a character? These all dealt with transformations, so I was more curious after a certain number of stories if it realized when you wanted to start changing a character or if it was just always following your lead.

How much editing did you have to do when you were finished with a story? And about how long did it take to get a story finished (or like 1,000 words)? By myself I can usually get 1,000 words in an hour. But with this it could be really helpful, or it could just take as long. That hour though is usually with only one hand on the keyboard though… :sweat_smile:

Hopefully those questions aren’t too annoying. I’m just kind of curious about it. I know with me, I tried to spend about an hour using it but it just wouldn’t do what I wanted. The story/characters felt so generic and boring that it was more of me writing a story myself than the AI actually helping me, but because I wasn’t in control of half of it I felt like I was still writing everything myself, or that it would need such an overhaul that I might as well have written the whole thing myself.

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@Lusty_Stallion

The paid engine is absolutely more powerful. I did chapters 1-4 of Stranger with the free engine, then moved to the paid engine for the rest.

Name confusion is absolutely a problem it has. You have to read every line it produces and go ‘wait, that’s not right’ when it happens. Fixing it with an edit usually straightens it out fast.

Every so often, it would try to introduce a female character. I would just hit the ‘retry’ button, and if it was really insistent I’d write the next couple sentences myself to get it over the hump.

I’m sure the AI made a huge difference. Not just in terms of length or speed, but I also usually find that my stories rate highly for ‘idea’ and ‘writing’, and somewhat lower in ‘hot’, ‘mind control’, and ‘wanking material’. Frankly, I get bored writing sex scenes. The AI helped me bridge that gap and created a much more consistently high rating for the categories where I’m traditionally weak. That said - my writing score was slightly lower than it usually is, so whether that was people who didn’t like me using the AI or folks who didn’t see my usual flair, I think we can say that my writing is slightly worse with AI assistance.

Next time, I might write an entire story first, then use AI to polish up my sex scenes and intimate moments.

As for Derek showing up near the end… yeah, that’s me inserting myself into the story. With over 30 men transformed through the series, I felt like it wasn’t too far out of line to visit Vanilla myself and see what the stranger could do to me. And if I’m gonna be there, I may as well get fucked into my most lustful desires.

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@Jake_Landry

Great questions. Don’t worry about them being annoying, the whole reason I made this thread is because I’m excited about the tooling, and I wanted to capture my experience with it somewhere before I forget the few things I’ve learned.

That’s a totally fair preference. I usually write my stories over a day or two, and I rarely go back and edit them. At best, I might read them over, so editing is not my strong point. I’m glad that the AI didn’t leave too many fingerprints.

The learning curve was steep. I initially tried by starting the story with just a couple sentences, and it was basically impossible to make it go the right direction. Instead, I started writing the intro to each story by hand and then pasting that into the starting prompt. That seemed to make it ‘get’ my style more, which lead to a much smoother writing experience. By the end of the series, I was moving much, much faster. I’d say it was comparable to my unassisted writing speed at the start for a worse product, but as it went along, it became both faster and I learned where to use the AI to best effect for my style.

I’d expect that every author who tries this would have a different experience on which parts of their writing the AI could help or hurt. I’m particularly weak at sex scenes, which the AI ended up being good at. If it’s strength was dialog or plotting, I don’t know that I would have seen the same boost.

There’s a setting in AI Dungeon (might be paid only) that allows you to increase the length of the generated text. I increased it slightly, but overall I didn’t want more than a sentence or two at a time. It’s easy enough to his the arrow button if you want more, and it let me keep a close hand on guiding the story.

It doesn’t write dialog well. The AI tends towards generic statements or stuff that doesn’t really fit. I’d generally let it take a try or two at dialog and then edit it to fit whatever idea I was chasing.

Absolutely. Sometimes a character would take off their pants, and the AI would try to take off their pants again in the next paragraph. I just correct out the mistake and move on.

Yes, particularly when one character had already transformed in a story, it would bring text about other characters transforming. You can sort of ‘ask it leading questions’ by giving it sentences like "I saw a shudder run through his body. His muscles " and see what it comes up with. Several of the transformations in Stranger are based on taking that approach and rolling with what the AI suggested. I liked it, cause it helped me get out of my bubble a little (though obviously the story has enough hunky muscle dudes that my turn-ons are the driving factor).

I would edit as I went, changing up details to make them make sense. Then I’d go through the story for a full read through, making notes about any changes I wanted to make. Then I’d make the changes and publish. The first few chapters had a lot of notes, the later chapters had almost none as I learned to ride herd on it while it was writing, rather than waiting for the end.

Maybe 2000 words an hour in my best hour? Ultimately, I wrote 66k words in 17 days, not only making this my first novel-length piece, but also one written absurdly quickly. Editing took time, but I rarely got stuck like I do when I’m writing traditionally.

I get that. A big reason I did this experiment was to figure out if that was always going to be the case. I’m pleased to say it isn’t necessarily true.

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hey, i get inspired by you, I’ve never written anything before, but I think I’ll try it and a totally different theme.
Break a leg to me.

Best of luck bud!

There are some folks on the Discord who will often be up for reading drafts and making suggestions if you need editing or feedback.

Remember, writing something good is a lot of work, but it’s also very rewarding.

-D

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Something to note, if you want a WAY better editing environment which gives you up to three choices per generation, you can use HuggingFace. On the downside, it’s strictly gpt2 so you don’t get the stronger AI, but, can be useful if you want to quickly spitball stuff without getting stuck in AIDungeon’s clunky interface.

Derek, I love this thread!! I’m so impressed that you dedicated this level of thought, time, and effort to really wrangle with the AI and see what a committed, AI-assisted story might actually look like… And I so enjoy reading the “behind-the-scenes” info. I think it’s least as interesting as the story itself. I’m glad you’re documenting and sharing your process. It’s really fascinating to me.

Thanks for the recommendation @anarchomegalomaniac. I’m likely to stick with the more powerful engine - I find it worth the cost and the kludgey interface, but I like that there’s more than one option!

Thanks @Nutiper. I saw the first couple of stories that came out with this tech and really wanted to delve into it and explore. Ask any questions!

I don’t have any questions off the top of my head, but just seeing you walk through your entire process in so much detail is incredibly helpful, and so useful. I think you already answered any questions I may have had. And whenever I give the AI Dungeon another try, I’m definitely going to model it on your approach, and see how that affects what comes out.

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