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Robots Writing

January 12th, 2017

what-is-the-what-blogAs I write this, I’m watching the snow come down, settle and then melt away. It’s a very half-hearted attempt! But it’s certainly miserable for anyone out in it and it’s times like this that tempt even the most industrious writer to have a ‘duvet day’.

My advice is: don’t fight it. The odd day’s loss of production can soon be made up and it’s the ideal time to curl up and have a good read. Most successful authors agree that if you don’t read, you’ll never by a competent writer. Stephen King is quoted as saying: If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.

I’ve read two brilliant, but very different, books over the Christmas break and into the New Year. They might not appeal to everyone, but I’d recommend them both in their different ways.

The first is What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng by Dave Eggers. I know it sounds odd – an autobiography by someone other than the protagonist. But the reason is that Valentino is one of the Lost Boys of South Sudan, casualties of the  seemingly endless civil war in that area. It’s a heart-wrenching story, but it’s also positive and impossible to put down. It really is a masterclass in story telling.

The second is American Gods by Neil Gaiman.  At well over 600 pages it’s not a quick read but if I say that it has won the Hugo, Nebula, Bram Stoker, SFX and Locus awards it gives you some idea of how good it is, and also what a confusing melting pot of genres. But the mixture does work.

OK, enough of my r&r time. We’ve been hearing so much about artificial intelligence recently and the threat of robots taking over from humans. That will never be the case for something as creative as writing, I hear you say. But will it? If you’re interested have a look at these:

‘Whim’ (What-if Machine) is currently working on narrative, metaphor and humour with the goal of writing fiction!

Robots are being trained to write poetry – though if the haiku on the site is anything to go by, they don’t yet pose much of a threat.

And at Robotauthor you can get blog posts and articles written by algorithms – but at a pretty steep price. In fact, you could afford to buy a hefty amount of work from real, live humans for what they’re charging in their ‘sale’.

So, I think we can sleep easy. I suspect it will be a while before we’re all obsolete.

Before I close, the winners of our recent Flash Fiction competition are now available. I’m sure you’ll enjoy them as much as I did. As usual, there were some brilliant entries and it was really difficult  to choose the best. So congratulations to our three winners, Mary Bevan, Kym Mason and Douglas Bruton!

This also means that our 2017 Short Story Competition is now open for entries. As usual, the prizes are £300, £200 and £100 plus the winners also receive a free Writers Bureau course of their choice. The word limit is 2000, so you have much more scope to develop your theme and characters. And remember, never be frightened to try something innovative. We’re always looking  for something a bit different.

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About The Author: Diana Nadin

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