ChatGPT Teacher Tips Part 8 – Creative Writing

Post by Tom Daccord

[INTRO: A recent national report by the Watson Foundation found that teachers are using ChatGPT more than students and are using it to create new lesson ideas. To help out all of our teacher friends, we are offering a series of posts focused on practical ways that you can use ChatGPT to assist with your own lesson design! Each post will focus on a practical  strategy for using ChatGPT and will include ideas for both elementary and secondary school teachers. Here is the eighth part of our series:]

#8 Creative Writing

Why ChatGPT for Creative Writing?

ChatGPT can be used to generate writing prompts and writing suggestions that can provide ideas, inspiration and motivation for students working through parts of the creative process. It can serve as a brainstorming assistant that serves up a steady stream of ideas to provide students with more flexibility in story development and help move their writing forward.

How to use ChatGPT for Creative Writing

For starters, ChatGPT can provide creative writing prompts to help generate story ideas. It can also suggest an outline that includes a plot structure. Once students have begun writing, ChatGPT can help generate new ideas and directions after their story is underway. As a student develops a story, ChatGPT can suggest character developments and more. In all, ChatGPT can provide multiple ways to inform and motivate students to undertake and complete creative writing tasks.

ChatGPT Examples

Here are examples of how to leverage ChatGPT for creative writing: 

  1. Brainstorming

For many students, getting started on a creative writing assignment is the most daunting part of the writing process. Many students just don’t know where to begin if left to their own devices to come up with an idea for a story. 

So, here are a few examples of creative writing prompts generated by ChatGPT:

  • “In a world where time travel is possible, a detective must solve a murder that has taken place across different eras.”
  • “A young girl discovers a magical garden in the forest behind her house, but she soon learns that the garden comes with a dangerous secret.”
  • “A person wakes up one day with the ability to read minds, but soon realizes that this power comes with its own set of problems and consequences.”

Let’s say that the student must write a creative story about “the childhood experiences of someone growing up in the 1990s.”

Here are some ChatGPT writing prompts to that end:

  • “A young girl navigates the ups and downs of middle school in the 1990s, dealing with first crushes, friendship drama, and fitting in with her peers.”
  • “A young boy is torn between his love for video games and his desire to fit in with the popular crowd at school in the 1990s.”
  • “A family moves from the city to a small town in the 1990s, and the protagonist must navigate the challenges of adjusting to a new environment and making friends.”

These prompts can serve as a starting point for writers to develop their own unique stories and characters. Students might also relate to these ideas on a personal level, based on their upbringing, and be motivated to write about them. 

  1. Getting Unstuck

For other students, getting started is not the most challenging part of the creative writing process. Rather, it’s generating new ideas and directions after a story has begun. Many writers (presently company included) have spent countless hours staring at their screens, not knowing what to write next. ChatGPT-3 can help writers overcome writer’s block and continue the creative writing process.

Let’s say a student has begun writing a story about “Tim,” a shy and sensitive boy in middle school who has always struggled with making friends and fitting in, due to his quiet and introverted nature. 

  • Character Development: Since ChatGPT can be leveraged for character development, a student could enter her story into ChatGPT and ask: “How might Tim’s introverted nature manifest itself in his relationships with teachers at school and his parents at home?”

Here are a few ideas provided by ChatGPT:

  • “Tim may be less likely to participate in class discussions or speak up in front of the teacher. He may also struggle to approach his teachers for help or to ask questions. Despite this, Tim may still be highly attentive in class and have a strong desire to learn, making him a conscientious student.”
  • “At home, Tim’s introverted nature may manifest itself in a more withdrawn and reserved behavior. He may prefer to spend time alone, reading books or drawing in his sketchpad, and may have difficulty opening up to his parents about his experiences at school.”
  • Story Twists: Some students may be seeking a story “twist”, or a way that a story might move in a different or surprising way. ChatGPT can also help in this regard.

Here are three “twists” provide by ChatGPT:

Any of these suggestions could be leveraged to move a story forward.

ChatGPT can also aid students by providing character-dialogue examples and point-of-view examples. Furthermore, it can be leveraged to maintain a consistent voice in a story and can provide students with feedback and revisions.There are even more possibilities, but ultimately the final product will hinge on the decisions, strategies and imagination of the student writer.

For many students, academic writing is often a joyless undertaking and ultimately we want students to embrace and enjoy the writing process. With its ideas and suggestions, ChatGPT can help inject energy and momentum into the writing process. ChatGPT can help students develop more enthusiasm to try out ideas and move in different literary directions. Tentative writers, in particular, may feel more confident in having a personalized guide available to suggest writing opportunities for where to begin, how to process, or what might happen next.

Keep in mind that ChatGPT may not always respond exactly as you expect. However, with a bit of creativity and effective prompts, ChatGPT can be a useful and engaging tool for creative writing with your students!

–by Tom Daccord, with help from ChatGPT 

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