Updated: Aug 26
To say we live in interesting times is surely an understatement. I grew up without TV and then in the late 1980’s to the early 1990’s, when I was in my 40's, the Internet reared its great head. And today we’ve progressed at lightning speed to Artificial Intelligence. As a writer, I am profoundly excited by the doors AI has opened to us. So who needs a critique group?
I decided to request ChatGPT for a critique of the beginning and ending sections of my 7000-word Spiritual Science Fiction story, ‘The Way of the Noodle’. I also put it to Bing Chat and received a similar response. I shall detail both in this blog post. I knew AI would offer me an unbiased opinion unlike a human being. AI does not need to contend with mood swings, resentment or an inferiority complex. Artificial Intelligence can access a ton of data which has trained it to make correct assessments.
One writer may give you a glowing critique while another, perhaps resenting your not-so- positive critique of their work may offer you a biased critique. It has happened to me.
My Question to Open AI’s ChatGPT
Please comment on the readability of the following passages that open my story of 7000 words :
Antara fell in love with Fabian the moment she saw him trudging uphill to the cave of her Sensei. Not many braved the rough climb to seek out the Japanese hermit nun who had abandoned the monastery, dared to wear her hair long and call her path The Way of the Noodle. But that was a year and half ago and now, Antara's love castle was crumbling.
As she watched the sun set with Fabian, the fiery hues in the skies turned the snowy peaks of the Kanchenjunga gold and ignited her despair. She did not want to let him go. The purpose of her life was enlightenment and he was pivotal to it. Yet, like Saint Augustine, she told herself, "Give me chastity and continence, but not now." "You know I love you like I've loved no one else," she said. "We have a spiritual bond, the only kind that lasts." Fabian's blond hair looked like a halo around his head. "Sex has been the greatest with you. But maybe we should transcend it, and take our relationship to a higher, deeper level." It had become windy. The cirrus clouds had begun to turn red; Antara's hair whipped her red lipstick across her face. "You look like Eagle Eye." Chuckling, Fabian wiped the welts of lipstick from her cheeks. "Sex is my way of being close to you," she said.
The readability of the opening passages of your story is generally good. The narrative flows smoothly, and the descriptions help set the scene and establish the characters' emotions. However, there are a few areas where clarity and flow could be enhanced for smoother reading:
Original: "Antara fell in love with Fabian the moment she saw him trudging uphill to the cave of her Sensei. Not many braved the rough climb to seek out the Japanese hermit nun who had abandoned the monastery, dared to wear her hair long and call her path The Way of the Noodle. But that was a year and half ago and now, Antara's love castle was crumbling."
Revised: "Antara fell in love with Fabian the instant she witnessed him trudging uphill toward her Sensei's cave. Few dared to brave the challenging climb, seeking out the Japanese hermit nun who had forsaken the monastery. She wore her hair long and followed the unconventional path known as The Way of the Noodle. However, a year and a half had passed, and now Antara's fortress of love stood on the brink of collapse."
Original: "As she watched the sun set with Fabian, the fiery hues in the skies turned the snowy peaks of the Kanchenjunga gold and ignited her despair. She did not want to let him go. The purpose of her life was enlightenment and he was pivotal to it. Yet, like Saint Augustine, she told herself, 'Give me chastity and continence, but not now.'"
Revised: "As Antara observed the sun's descent alongside Fabian, the fiery hues of the sky transformed the snowy peaks of the Kanchenjunga into a golden spectacle, amplifying her sense of despair. She struggled against the idea of letting him slip away. Her existence was dedicated to enlightenment, and he held a pivotal role in that journey. However, akin to Saint Augustine's sentiments, she whispered to herself, 'Grant me chastity and restraint, but not at this moment.'"
Original: "'You know I love you like I've loved no one else,' she said. 'We have a spiritual bond, the only kind that lasts.' Fabian's blond hair looked like a halo around his head. "Sex has been the greatest with you. But maybe we should transcend it, and take our relationship to a higher, deeper level."
It had become suddenly windy. The cirrus clouds were beginning to turn red; Antara's hair whipped her red lipstick across her face.
'You look like Eagle Eye.' Chuckling, Fabian wiped the welts of lipstick from her cheeks.
'Sex is my way of being close to you.'"
Revised: "'You know I love you like no one else I've loved,' she expressed softly. 'Our connection is spiritual, the kind that endures."
Fabian's blond hair seemed to form a halo around his head. '"Our intimacy has been profound. Perhaps it's time we elevate our relationship, transcending the physical, and embracing a more profound connection."
Cirrus clouds started to take on a reddish hue, as Antara's hair sent her red lipstick streaking across her face.
'You resemble Eagle Eye.' Chuckling, Fabian wiped the lipstick smears from her cheeks.
"Physical closeness has been my means of connecting deeply with you.'"
By making these adjustments, the passages should flow more smoothly and maintain a consistent narrative tone, enhancing the overall readability of your story.
My Response to CHATGPT’s Editing Skills
I do not have confidence in AIs editing skills. I would rather use ‘said’ than ‘expressed’. ‘Watched’ instead of ‘observed’. And so on.
I asked ChatGPT : Do people want to read such spiritual fiction about the struggle between body and soul? I think this is a niche genre.
ChatGPT’s Response :
Yes, spiritual fiction that explores the struggle between body and soul can indeed find its audience, and it often falls into a niche genre. While it might not have the mass appeal of more mainstream genres, there is a dedicated readership that seeks out these kinds of stories for their depth, introspection, and philosophical exploration. Here's why this genre can be appealing:
1. Personal Growth and Reflection:
Many readers are drawn to stories that prompt self-reflection and personal growth. Spiritual fiction often delves into the complexities of human nature, the search for meaning, and the internal conflicts that individuals experience. Readers who are on their own journeys of self-discovery and understanding may resonate strongly with such narratives.
2. Exploration of Existential Questions:
Fiction that delves into the struggle between body and soul tends to tackle profound existential questions about the nature of life, the purpose of existence, and the duality of human experience. Readers who are curious about life's big questions and enjoy pondering philosophical concepts are likely to find this genre intriguing. .
3. Emotional Depth:
Stories that explore the conflict between physical desires and spiritual aspirations often carry emotional depth. The internal battles characters face can resonate with readers on an emotional level, creating a connection between the fictional narrative and their own inner struggles. .
4. Unique Perspective:
The niche nature of this genre offers readers a unique perspective that they might not find in more mainstream fiction. It provides an opportunity to engage with themes that are often overlooked or underrepresented in popular literature. .
5. Cathartic Experience:
Reading about characters navigating their internal conflicts can provide a cathartic experience for readers dealing with similar struggles. Seeing characters grapple with dilemmas and come to resolutions can offer a sense of validation and comfort. .
6. Spiritual and Philosophical Exploration:
Readers interested in spirituality, philosophy, and the exploration of different belief systems may be drawn to stories that tackle these topics in a fictional context. It allows for a more immersive and relatable engagement with these concepts.
7. Escape and Perspective:
While this genre may be niche, readers who are seeking an escape from the ordinary can find solace in exploring the intricacies of the human experience through fictional characters. It can offer a new perspective on their own challenges.
It's important to note that while this genre may not have a mass-market appeal, it has the potential to deeply resonate with a specific audience. Authors who write spiritual fiction that grapples with the struggle between body and soul often do so with a passion for exploring these profound themes. If you're drawn to this genre and have a story to tell within it, there's likely an audience that will appreciate and connect with your work."
Then I decided to ask for feedback on the ending of my tale. After all, the ending should offer some sort of resolution to the conflict posed in the first paragraph or two of the story.
My Response to AI’s Critique:
Thank you for the encouragement. Please comment on the fantastic science fiction ending of this 7000 word tale: On the evening of December 20, 2012, when she saw Fabian alighting from the little blue train, a rucksack on his back, there were no butterflies in her belly which could turn into slugs. They had become the Divine Couple and this time he was smiling at her. The crows feet at the corners of his green eyes were deeper. His baby-soft blond hair looked blonder without the hair gel he always used. She rushed to him and flung her arms around him. He held her close. "I can't believe it's been so long since we last met," she said, drawing back to look at him. "I told you long ago that if you let me go, I would always come back." "So you believe in the prophecy of the ultimate cataclysm ," said Antara, "and how important it is to reconnect with the temple now." "Of course, but I would have come anyway." "You're blessed," said Antara as they made their way up the steep winding street that led into town. "I was worried about you." "I missed you." He put his arm about her shoulders. "Me too. You can't imagine how much. Sensei will be so happy to see you. She thinks you're very spiritually evolved." He smiled. "Not really, but I see the Way of the Noodle in my work." They walked past houses clustered along the narrow street. A couple of tourists, jabbering in Bengali, trotted by on ponies. Antara wondered if they had heard about the events about to unfold. She hoped they too were hungry for the Truth. ~ ~ ~ ~ Antara did not make love to Fabian. There was no need. The following morning, when they woke clasped in each other's arms like children who knew nothing of desire and looked out the window, two suns were rising over the mountains. One blood red and the other blazing white. She rushed to the window and opened it, cringing at the blast of cold air. The wind chimes tinkled above her head. "Oh my God, Fabian. What's that?" He embraced her from behind. "Planet X," he whispered. There was no fear in her. She felt so much lighter. She turned around to face him and they began to float, still embracing, to the ceiling. They did not stop there. She squealed with delight as they passed through it to hover above the house and the hillside. The air was no longer cold. "It has begun," she thought as the mountains in the distance began to crumble. In her mind, she heard Fabian say: "And we have begun too."
ChatGPT’s Critique of My Story’s Ending:
The ending of your story paints a vivid and captivating picture, blending elements of science fiction with a touch of mysticism. It brings closure to the narrative while leaving a sense of wonder and possibility. Here are some comments on this fantastic science fiction ending:
Sense of Revelation and Transformation:
The ending carries a sense of revelation and transformation as Antara and Fabian reunite. The anticipation and significance of their meeting are palpable, and the reader can feel the weight of their shared journey. The exchange between them reflects a deeper understanding of their connection and the cosmic events unfolding.
Symbolism and Mystical Imagery:
The imagery of the two suns rising over the mountains carries a symbolic weight, representing the convergence of multiple dimensions or worlds. The duality of the blood-red and blazing white suns creates a visually striking and otherworldly effect, hinting at the extraordinary nature of the events to come.
Unity and Harmony:
The embrace between Antara and Fabian, devoid of desire, signifies a profound spiritual unity. It speaks to a connection beyond physicality, resonating with the theme of the struggle between body and soul that the story explores. Their ability to float and transcend earthly limitations underscores their transcendence and newfound harmony.
The description of the mountains crumbling and the arrival of Planet X introduces an element of cataclysmic change. This mirrors the internal transformations the characters have undergone and suggests a parallel between their personal evolution and the cosmic shifts occurring. It amplifies the sense of the extraordinary unfolding before them.
The sensory details, such as the tinkling wind chimes and the rush of cold air, ground the reader in the scene, creating a vivid and immersive experience. These details contribute to the atmosphere of the moment and enhance the reader's connection to the characters' sensations.
Merging of Minds:
The internal thought processes of Antara and Fabian provide insight into their thoughts and emotions, enriching the scene. Their shared understanding and synchronized thinking underscore the depth of their connection and the unique nature of their bond.
The closing line, "And we have begun too," leaves the ending open to interpretation and invites the reader to consider the implications of the events. It encourages readers to imagine the journey that lies ahead for the characters and the world they inhabit.
Overall, the ending of your story effectively blends science fiction elements with spiritual themes, creating a sense of wonder and reflection. It provides a satisfying conclusion while leaving the door open for contemplation, making it a compelling and thought-provoking ending to your tale.’
Next, I asked Bing. I wanted to see how similar the two critiques could be.
Bing’s Critique of ‘The Way of the Noodle’
Your opening paragraphs are quite intriguing and set up an interesting premise. The setting in the mountain town of Darjeeling is vividly described, and the introduction of the characters Antara and Fabian, as well as the hermit nun, piques the reader’s interest. The spiritual theme is introduced subtly through the characters’ dialogue and actions, which adds depth to the story.
The phrase “The Way of the Noodle” is unique and intriguing, making the reader curious about its meaning and significance. The conflict in Antara’s mind between her love for Fabian and her pursuit of enlightenment adds tension to the narrative.
The dialogue between Antara and Fabian about their relationship and its future direction is engaging. It reveals their personalities and their differing views on love, sex, and spirituality.
The use of sensory details, such as the changing colors of the sky and mountains, enhances the mood of the scene. The description of Antara’s hair whipping her lipstick across her face is a striking image that adds a touch of humor to the scene.
Overall, your opening paragraphs are engaging and would likely encourage readers to continue with the story. However, remember that these are just my thoughts and different readers may have different opinions. Keep writing!
My Response to Bing:
Thank you. According to you what genre does this tale belong to?
Based on the provided excerpt, your story seems to fall under the genre of Spiritual
Science Fiction. This is a unique blend of genres that combines elements of spirituality and science fiction. The spiritual aspects are evident in the characters’ pursuit of enlightenment and their discussions about their spiritual bond. The science fiction elements, while not explicitly present in the excerpt, could potentially be explored in the larger narrative or setting. It’s a fascinating mix that offers a lot of potential for exploring deep themes and complex character relationships.
The ending of your story, “The Way of the Noodle,” is quite compelling and leaves a lasting impression. Here are some points that stood out:
1. Character Development:
The reunion of Antara and Fabian shows their growth and evolution since their last meeting. Their dialogue reveals their deep connection and shared spiritual journey.
The description of the two suns rising over the mountains is a powerful image that signifies a major shift in the world of your story. The characters’ ascent through the ceiling and above the house is another striking visual that underscores the extraordinary nature of their experience.
3. Tension and Release:
The anticipation of the cataclysmic event builds tension throughout the scene. When it finally begins, there’s a sense of release, as well as a sense of wonder and awe at the transformation taking place.
4. Spiritual Themes:
The spiritual themes are woven seamlessly into the narrative. The concept of “The Way of the Noodle” is intriguing and leaves the reader curious to learn more about its meaning and significance.
5. Emotional Impact:
The ending leaves a strong emotional impact, with its mix of fear, excitement, and joy as Antara and Fabian begin their new journey.
Overall, your ending is thought-provoking and leaves the reader with a sense of wonder and anticipation for what comes next in Antara and Fabian’s journey. Great job!
Bing Suggests Publishers of Spiritual Fiction
Bing even suggested publishers of Spiritual Fiction. So, of course I will ask Open AI ChatGPT for feedback again. This is one of the most comprehensive critiques I have ever received of my work.