Beyond the Draft: Why AI Won’t Save Fiction Authors (Yet)

Paolo Danese
4 min readDec 1, 2023

If I had to summarize what the first year of AI-enabled writing did, it is this: writer’s block is dead and buried. There can no longer be an excuse not to write.

With the death of writer’s block, we have seen a new generation of tools replacing the Microsoft Word-style text processor. AI is also a critical challenge to more sophisticated writing tools, like Scrivener, which had been widely considered a top choice for organizing and drafting novels.

The new generation of AI tools (at least the useful ones) have fallen into largely two categories:

  • Base tools: ChatGPT with its different models, and Claude
  • “Dedicated” tools: popular ones include Sudowrite and Novel AI, with the latest addition, Novel Craft, being praised as perhaps the breakthrough many AI-positive writers were waiting for.

Personally, as I enter the 6th month of my experimentation at the intersection of fiction writing and AI, I have stuck with the base models by and large. I have currently transitioned from using Scrivener to Notion to handle my manuscript, keeping open the two chatbots mentioned on the side to help as developmental and line editors.

The main reason for sticking with base tools has been that I have been doing a lot more AI-assisted editing than drafting, which dedicated tools like Sudowrite don’t seem to be designed for.

(Side note: I have been working hard at revising my second novel, Path of the Nemesis. Once done with that, hopefully by Christmas this year, I will be diving into the revision, redrafting and publishing of my third novel, a 160,000 words beast which I originally wrote during the pandemic in 2020. Crazy times!)

I believe that by the time I start my first entirely new project, likely sometime in the second half of 2024, I will be seeing some really exciting dedicated tools having reached the level of sophistication needed to make them worth the change in workflows.

That being said, I wanted to write this post today to share my view that, while the death of writer’s block is a fantastic development, the fundamental challenge facing writers remains financial sustainability through connecting stories with eager audiences. That…