How I use chatGPT
Some prompts I found effective
I have used ChatGPT so much while writing my book about late bloomers—it was the first reader of the whole manuscript!—that I’m including it in my acknowledgements. If you are unused to chatGPT but want to learn, this is quite a good course. This post has some of the ways I have used it that I found most successful, including experiments I made for marketing copywriting, which was something I used to commission in my role as a brand planner/still do as freelance.
I have previously written about using GPT-3.5 to write a scene from Dickens, GPT and political language, the fact that Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is a book for the age of AI, and AI as daemon or familiar, with reference to Philip Pullman. Back in 2018 I reviewed a play about AI where I wrote: “Rather than worrying that AI will turn rogue and kill us, is the greater fear not that AI could become clever enough to be able to think almost as well as we can but pretend not to?” The potential for modern Prospero and Ariel stories is still high.
And yes, I used it to edit this post, with the following prompt:
Act as an expert editor with several years of experience. Please provide a bullet point list of errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Provide some general thoughts on style and structure. Then, ask for any elaborations or ask me to get you to suggest further useful prompts.
Obviously you should often ask “are you sure”, “anything else”, “is this all correct”, “please try again”, etc.
Book manuscript feedback
This was the answer it gave about the manuscript that pleased me most:
The concept of “late bloomers” is not new, but the author’s approach to exploring this topic seems unique.
Here’s one summary it wrote of the book:
The author uses a variety of real-life examples to illustrate the concept of late bloomers, such as Katharine Graham, who became the CEO of the Washington Post company at the age of forty-five after her husband’s death. Despite having no prior business training and a lack of confidence, she went on to become one of the most successful CEOs of the twentieth century.
The book seems to argue that talent and potential exist in people in the second half of their life just as much as in younger individuals. It suggests that society often overlooks this potential, and the author’s aim is to shift this perspective.
The book combines scientific studies and biographical stories to provide a comprehensive understanding of late bloomers. It emphasizes the importance of understanding people’s stories before their success and argues that past experiences are not necessarily predictive of future potential.
Overall, the book appears to be a thoughtful exploration of the concept of late bloomers, providing both theoretical and practical insights. It could be a valuable read for anyone interested in personal development, career transitions, or the psychology of success.
Overall, I thought it gave pretty accurate summaries of factual material, and the assessments of what the book does and does not try to achieve were decent, so I took its other advice in good spirit, noting that I don’t treat it as inviolable. It also produced a set of audiences and a marketing plan that,—as someone who has spent over a decade in marketing,—I thought was great, especially for only two or three prompts. The titles it suggested were fine but dull. It identified the topics I have left out and I was able to do further research and confirm that those were the right choices.
I asked it for the main lessons of the book and it got it right. I will post those closer to the book’s launch…
You can also ask how specific people would review the book but those answers were a little weaker. They could be improved with more specific prompting, e.g.
You are X. You have been commissioned to write a review of this book for [your blog/the LRB/etc]. Write a summary of the sorts of things you are like to say about this book, based on your previous reviews of other similar works, in the last ~3 years.
This prompt got me a detailed list of specific editorial suggestions for an article. I then followed-up with, “Please elaborate on X”, where X was one of the listed suggestions. This gave much more detailed feedback.
You are going to act as an editor. You will proof read the passage I give you and then ask me for prompts about the passage. These will involve you giving editorial advice about spelling, punctuation, grammar, and style. Tell me when you are ready to begin. After each answer, tell me you are ready for another editing prompt.
This was how I varied that prompt for reviewing my book. With this one, after I got it to elaborate, I asked, “Please suggest some other prompts I can use to get your editorial comments on the book,” which produced more good results.
Act as an editor. You work for a major publishing house and are reviewing the draft of a new non-fiction book, available here: [LINK TO BOOK/PDF]. Once you have read it, you will begin a conversation where you provide feedback on style, structure, content, tone, audience fit, readability, and related topics. You will then ask what elaborations I would like on the feedback. You will suggest further prompts I can use to get your editing advice. At the end of each response ask for elaboration or if I would like you to suggest further prompts.
With this prompt, I fed in brand guidelines and a job description, to generate headlines and body copy for social, and a video script. Then I prompted to make them less generic. Then, “rewrite each of the headlines you have provided so far as if it was a quote from an employee and could be used next to a candid headshot of them at work.”
From now on you are going to act as an advertising copywriter. I will give you a set of brand guidelines to review and then a brief to follow. You will complete the instructions such as producing copy for adverts with reference to the brand guidelines, making sure your copy adheres to the messaging, tone, and style set out in the guidelines. Tell me if you understand and then ask for the brand guidelines to read. Once you have read them, tell me you are ready for the first set of instructions.
Once I had the headlines, I prompted with this:
Whenever I type: “<headline><bodycopy>” you will iterate the selected <headline><bodycopy> giving examples of how it can be adjusted to a two or three part headline, changing the vocabulary to be more attractive, and emphasising points that will stand out as attractions on social media. You will then as for the next <headline><bodycopy>. As me for the first <headline><bodycopy>.
I was then able to type in the number from the list GPT-4 had generated and it gave me three new versions. You can also simply prompt,
These are too corny for social media, try again.
The results were pretty good. A lot of copywriting might start becoming editing and iterating.
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