Frank Fiore – Novelist & Screenwriter

September 21, 2011

Look Out Writers! – The Computers Are Coming!

Filed under: Frank Remarks,On Writing — Frank Fiore @ 12:32 PM

Look at This.

“WISCONSIN appears to be in the driver’s seat en route to a win, as it leads 51-10 after the third quarter. Wisconsin added to its lead when Russell Wilson found Jacob Pedersen for an eight-yard touchdown to make the score 44-3 …”

From the New York Times.

Those words began a news brief written within 60 seconds of the end of the third quarter of the Wisconsin-U.N.L.V. football game earlier this month. They may not seem like much — but they were written by a computer.

OK. So a lot of sports writing is formulaic (even romance novels for that matter). But does that mean that novels can be written someday by computers? Will a computerized monkey someday produce all of Shakespeare’s plays?

Silly, right?

The again, there’s something called FictionFixer.

FictionFixer™ tracks and analyzes more than 250 characteristics of current bestselling novels. The software combines this data with a consensus of expert advice and opinion to define a model representing what the public expects from such books.

They support their claim with their ‘Pineapple Upside-Down Cake’ recipe.

Published recipes have been around since the 1903. The recipe had changed over the years to reflect the ‘tastes’ of consumers.  As the recipes for the cake changed, the world ‘voted’ with their taste buds — i.e., the trends towards more natural ingredients and low carbs, salt or butter.

As FictionFixer™ sees it:

Just like the example above, while the unique ingredients are what makes (the cake) stand out, certain core ingredients must be present in a novel for it to be in the running. There is a model, and it too, evolves from year to year. Fortunately, the world continually votes on this matter; they vote with their pocketbooks, and these votes are recorded on bestseller lists. But what are the ingredients? What is the current model?

FictionFixer™ seeks to answer those questions with their software.

FictionFixer™ reveals how close to the mark your novel is in relation to the current model of what people are buying. And, the software tells you exactly what to change to come closer to the ideal. The more you know about what your readership expects, the easier it is to communicate a particular story or message.

Are programs like the one that wrote the sports story and FictionFixer™ firing the first competitive shot across the novelist’s bow?

Or is that just a lot of wishful thinking.

If novelists wrote for what came before them Tom Clancy, who created the new genre called the techno-thriller or J.K. Rowling who created Harry Potter, would still be slaving as unknowns over their typewriters.

No. The computer program that can imitate human intuition hasn’t been invented yet and those novelists who write what they like and not necessarily to the market will still be here and successful after the shine on the computer mouse has faded away.


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