Episode 98

How to Write Better Than AI (Finale)

Today we are wrapping up our series on how to write better than AI and insisting on our cup of stars. Please remember to fill out the Writing Break survey. The feedback we're receiving is changing the format of the show. Thank you!

Music licensed from Storyblocks:

“More Jam Please” by Raighes Factory

"Sideway Love (Backtrack)" by Yagull Music

"Tropical Dance" by Sondé

Rosemi Mederos:

If you have plot bunnies coming out of your plot holes, it’s time for a writing break.

Welcome back, writers. Thank you to those who provided feedback via our survey. The survey is still open, and the responses will alter the show. So far listeners have indicated that the writing tips segment is their favorite, and the featured author segment is their least favorite. What about you? Do you agree or disagree? If you still have not completed the survey, I urge you to do so. It is completely anonymous, so really let me have it. Check the show notes for a link to the survey, and you can fill it out while we settle in at the Writing Break cafe.

Today we are wrapping up our series on how to write better than AI and insisting on our cup of stars. But first, the news.


Keith Reiger, the CEO of Ulysses Press, said “if you are working in the publishing industry, this is a critical time to start using AI as much as you possibly can. Because it is not AI that is going to take your job—it's somebody that is using AI that is going to take your job.”

This month, in a 6 to 3 decision, the US Supreme Court ruled that copyright plaintiffs can recover damages for copyright infringement that happened more than three years before a lawsuit was filed if the plaintiff did not discover the infringement until later. In the majority opinion, Justice Elena Kagan wrote “There is no time limit on monetary recovery . . . so a copyright owner possessing a timely claim for infringement is entitled to damages, no matter when the infringement occurred.” While this is good news for those whose copyrights have been infringed, some attorneys are concerned that this will bring a fresh wave of copyright trolls filing unsubstantiated lawsuits.

A new K-lytics report shows that the romantasy genre has grown over 70% in the last year. Readers are using the terms fantasy romance, romantic fantasy, and romantasy interchangeably, however, not many authors who write fantasy romance are tagging their books as romantasy. If you’ve written a book that can be classified as romantasy, double check to make sure that your book is classified as such wherever possible. This will help readers discover your masterpiece.

There are several ways to find lit agents, and I’ve shared some of these over time, but one that I haven’t yet shared is the Association of American Literary Agents. Formerly known as the Association of Authors' Representatives, the AALA is a well-established non-profit organization. Their website is a top resource if you’re seeking a literary agent. They have a user-friendly directory that avoids any clutter and unnecessary promotions. Members follow a code of ethics, and the AALA offers valuable resources to both agents and authors.

Check the show notes for a link to the AALA and to all of today’s news stories. Now, let’s head to the Overthinking Couch for the final installment of How to Write Better than AI.

As we’ve discussed recently, AI is currently a tell-don’t-show hinterland. If you can write without the excess verbiage that AI generates and show your story, you’re already ahead of the game. If you really want to tighten up your writing, minimize adverbs whenever possible. For example, he ran quickly could be changed to he sprinted.

Also, remember that adjectives are tools, not decorations. Use them with purpose. For example, a sea breeze might indeed be cool, salty, and refreshing all at once, but what is the important description for your story? Don’t we all know that a sea breeze is cool, salty, and refreshing? Perhaps for your scene the important part is that the sea breeze carries the smell of sunscreen, which focuses attention on the fact that the beach is crowded.

As AI-generated books continue to be released, there are several tell-tale signs that a book was not written or edited by a human, such as switching incorrectly between current and past tense, mixing up character pronouns, constantly moving between first- and third-person point of view, continuity errors, and erroneous punctuation. The list goes on, of course, and for now, AI writing does not read well at all. However, the technology is improving. Pair that with humans who are reading less, and we might be headed into a dark future where no one cares that the writing is bad. A new dark age in writing might be upon us, but I think we can rage against the dying of the light by doing one thing AI will never be able to do, which is care.

AI is fast writing, but it is not careful writing. And we humans, all humans, must insist on careful writing.

With that, I’ll leave you with a scene from The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

“Eleanor looked up, surprised; the little girl was sliding back in her chair, sullenly refusing her milk, while her father frowned and her brother giggled and her mother said calmly, 'She wants her cup of stars.'

Indeed yes, Eleanor thought; indeed, so do I; a cup of stars, of course.

'Her little cup,' the mother was explaining, smiling apologetically at the waitress, who was thunderstruck at the thought that the mill's good country milk was not rich enough for the little girl. 'It has stars in the bottom, and she always drinks her milk from it at home. She calls it her cup of stars because she can see the stars while she drinks her milk.' The waitress nodded, unconvinced, and the mother told the little girl, 'You'll have your milk from your cup of stars tonight when we get home. But just for now, just to be a very good little girl, will you take a little milk from this glass?'

Don't do it, Eleanor told the little girl; insist on your cup of stars; once they have trapped you into being like everyone else you will never see your cup of stars again; don't do it; and the little girl glanced at her, and smiled a little subtle, dimpling, wholly comprehending smile, and shook her head stubbornly at the glass. Brave girl, Eleanor thought; wise, brave girl.”

That’s all for today. Please remember to fill out the survey linked in the show notes. Your feedback is changing the format of the show. I’ll be back with you in two weeks. Until then, be brave, be wise, insist on the best from yourself and for yourself. And remember, you deserved this break.

If you would like us to visit your favorite independent bookstore, feature your favorite independent author (even if it’s you), or discuss something you’re overthinking about, please email me at podcast@writingbreak.com.

Thank you for making space in your mind for The Muse today.

Writing Break is hosted by America’s Editor and produced by Allon Media with technical direction by Gus Aviles. Visit us at writingbreak.com or contact us at podcast@writingbreak.com.

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Rosemi Mederos


Rosemi is the founder of America's Editor, a book editing company.