Jack, natural language generation is happening right now. Yesterday I received an email (possibly) from a company that does “natural language generation.” They have a software program that creates “natural language narratives” out of data. It is used by AP and Yahoo! Sport among others to generate natural language narratives out of statistics.

If the email is genuine (I have serious doubts), they are working on applying it to fiction. Here is the text of email I got.

Message: Dear Mark,

I am a graduate student in computer science (I have a minor in literature). I came across your writing on Medium, and in particular, got a chance to read The Tree With No Top. The story has a strong undercurrent of the mythical, which has been captured beautifully and succinctly, which I really appreciate.

I am working on Wordsmith, a tool that a friend and I have designed to help writers improve their work with immediate, automated feedback. We are addressing critical elements of semantic feedback, like suggesting improvements in style, structure, incoherence and comparative analysis, going a step beyond syntactic/grammatical feedback tools. You can check out our website here.”

There was no link so I googled Wordsmith and found:


“I would like to know if you would be interested in testing out our tool with any of your stories, and let us know what you feel about the automated feedback and how we could help you further? Since we are in the stage of development, we charge only a nominal fee of $1 for every 500 words.

Let me know if this interests you. If so, email us a story that you’d like for Wordsmith to provide feedback on. We will get back to you with Wordsmith’s feedback on your story.”

The website seems legitimate, but I am not sure about the email. It was signed by “Wordsmith” and had a gmail return address, so it very likely is a scam. Plus they said I would have to pay $1 for every 500 words to basically beta test their software. Which also leads me to question if the email is valid. So I ignored it.

Whether this is a legitimate email or not, Wordsmith appears to be generating stories for major corporations and news publishers already. I imagine AI fiction generation will be common sooner than later. And, honesty, I want no part of it. (I feel the same about AI music generation.)

Written by

Old bones. Young heart. Focusing on a wide variety of creativity. @markstarlin

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