“Story” — an arbitrary baseline for my explorations of AI fiction

Paolo Danese
7 min readOct 21, 2023
Photo by Kevin Erdvig on Unsplash

In the Code Red for Writers newsletter (over on substack at paolodanese.substack.com), I will be diving deep into the intersection of fiction writing, especially speculative fiction, and the use of chatbots and other GAI tools. But I wanted to set a sort of baseline, as any good wannabe pseudo-scientist of the human nature would. So I removed all custom prompts from my setups and I asked OpenAI’s GPT3.5, GPT4, Anthropic’s Claude, and Google’s Bard (last and definitely least favorite for now), an annoyingly simple thing: “Story”. Then “Title(?)”.

The results are below, in all their horrific glory. Nothing else for today. In the next issue we shall dive into some critiques. Enjoy.

GPT3.5 writes:

“The Song of Harmony: Aria’s Journey for the Crystal”

Once upon a time, in a small village nestled at the foot of a towering mountain, there lived a young girl named Aria. Aria was known far and wide for her captivating voice, a voice that seemed to carry the very essence of the mountains and forests that surrounded their village. Her singing had the power to calm raging storms, heal wounded hearts, and even make the flowers bloom out of season.

Aria’s love for music and nature was nurtured by her grandmother, Elara, who had passed down the secrets of the ancient melodies that had been sung in their family for generations. Elara would often take Aria on long hikes through the lush forests and teach her about the songs of the birds, the whispers of the wind, and the stories of the stars.

One clear summer evening, as the sun dipped below the horizon and painted the sky with hues of orange and pink, Aria and Elara sat on a mossy rock by a glistening stream. Elara shared a tale about an ancient legend that had been passed down in their family for centuries.

“The legend speaks of a hidden cave high up in the mountains,” Elara began, her eyes sparkling with excitement. “It is said that within this cave lies a magical crystal, the Crystal of Harmony. It is believed that whoever possesses it can bring peace and prosperity to our village and heal the land from all its ailments.”

Aria’s heart raced with excitement as she listened to her grandmother’s story. She felt a deep calling to find this Crystal of Harmony and use its power to bring even more beauty and peace to their beloved village.

Determined to uncover the cave and its precious treasure, Aria embarked on a journey the very next morning. She climbed higher and higher up the rugged mountain, her melodious voice echoing through the valleys and guiding her way. Along the way, she encountered challenges and obstacles but never wavered in her quest.

After days of arduous climbing, Aria finally reached a hidden cave entrance concealed by lush vegetation. The cave was bathed in an ethereal blue light, and in the center, resting on a pedestal, was the magnificent Crystal of Harmony. Its radiance illuminated the entire chamber.

Aria carefully approached the crystal, her heart pounding with a mixture of awe and reverence. She reached out and touched it, and as her fingers made contact, a surge of energy coursed through her. She knew that she had been chosen as the crystal’s guardian.

With the Crystal of Harmony in her possession, Aria descended the mountain and returned to her village. The moment she arrived, she shared the crystal’s power, using its magic to heal the land, end conflicts, and bring prosperity to her people. Her singing, now amplified by the crystal, filled the air with a harmony that touched the hearts of all who heard it.

Word of Aria’s incredible journey and the Crystal of Harmony spread far and wide, and people from distant lands came to visit the village to witness the magic for themselves. Aria’s village became a place of peace and wonder, where the beauty of nature and the power of music merged in perfect harmony.

And so, Aria and the Crystal of Harmony brought not only joy and prosperity to their village but also a message that transcended their home: that the power of love, music, and nature had the ability to heal the world and bring people together in harmony, no matter how different they may be.

THE END

GPT4 writes:

“Whispers of the Green Heart”

Once upon a time, in a bustling city nestled between towering mountains and a vast, shimmering sea, there lived a young woman named Lila. Lila wasn’t like the other inhabitants of the city. While they busied themselves with daily chores, work, and socializing, Lila had a secret passion: she could communicate with plants.

Every morning, she would visit the city’s grand botanical garden, a haven of green amidst the concrete jungle. Here, she would sit quietly among the plants, listening to their whispers. The flowers would tell her about the children who played hide and seek among them the previous day, while the trees recounted tales of the seasons they had witnessed.

One day, Lila heard a distressed cry from a rare, ancient tree located at the heart of the garden. It told her about a looming threat: a developer wanted to cut down parts of the garden to build a new shopping mall. The tree pleaded with Lila to save the garden and its inhabitants.

Determined to protect her green friends, Lila decided to rally the people of the city. She organized community meetings, started petitions, and spread awareness about the importance of preserving the garden. However, the developer was powerful and had many supporters.

One evening, as Lila sat dejected in the garden, an idea blossomed in her mind. What if the plants themselves showed the city their worth? With her unique ability, Lila choreographed a grand spectacle. The next day, as the sun set, the plants in the garden began to sway, dance, and bloom in harmony, creating a mesmerizing performance that captivated the entire city.

The event was a massive success. People from all corners of the city, including those who previously supported the mall development, were awestruck by the beauty of the garden and the importance of preserving nature. The developer, realizing the public sentiment, withdrew his plans.

The botanical garden was saved, and Lila was hailed as a hero. However, she always maintained that the real heroes were the plants themselves. From that day on, the city’s residents took an active interest in preserving their environment, ensuring that the bond between nature and humanity remained strong.

And so, amidst the hustle and bustle of city life, the garden stood as a testament to the power of unity, understanding, and love for nature.

THE END

Claude writes:

A Fun Saturday with Friends / James and David’s Excellent Adventure / The Perfect Fall Saturday / A Day at the Park / Grilled Cheese and Playtime / Saturday Morning Fun

It was a sunny Saturday morning in October. James woke up excited for the day ahead. He jumped out of bed, got dressed, and went downstairs where his mom was making pancakes for breakfast — his favorite!

After happily gobbling down a stack of fluffy pancakes, James met up with his best friend David to go to the park. They spent the whole morning playing tag, climbing on the jungle gym, and going down the big slide again and again.

When it was lunchtime, James and David raced home as fast as they could. David was going to have lunch at James’ house. They were having grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup — the perfect meal after a busy morning at the park.

The two friends sat at the kitchen table, laughing and talking about their adventures from the morning. James’ mom brought over the crispy, gooey grilled cheese sandwiches. As they ate their lunch, James and David started planning more fun activities for the rest of the day. It was going to be an awesome Saturday!”

THE END

(Tiny note — creepy as hell that IT IS a sunny Saturday morning in October as I am writing this! What?!? How?!?)

Bard writes:

The title of the story is “Alice in Wonderland.” It is a reference to the strange and wonderful world that Alice falls into after falling down the rabbit hole. The title is also a metaphor for the power of imagination and the importance of seeing the world in new and different ways.

The title “Alice in Wonderland” has become synonymous with the story itself, and it is often used to describe any situation that is strange, surreal, or dreamlike. The title is also used to describe people who are curious, adventurous, and have a strong imagination.

Once upon a time, there was a young girl named Alice who lived in a small village. She was a curious and adventurous girl, and she loved to explore the woods near her home.

One day, while Alice was exploring the woods, she came across a strange rabbit hole. She peered down the hole, but it was too dark to see anything. Alice was curious, so she climbed down the hole.

Alice fell for what felt like a long time. When she finally landed, she found herself in a strange and wonderful world. The trees were all different colors, and the flowers were the size of houses. Alice met all sorts of strange and wonderful creatures, including a talking caterpillar, a Cheshire Cat, and a Mad Hatter.

Alice had many adventures in Wonderland, but she eventually started to miss her home. She found her way back to the rabbit hole and climbed up. When she emerged from the hole, she was back in the woods near her home.

Alice was never sure if her adventures in Wonderland were real or just a dream, but she knew that she would never forget them.

The story of Alice in Wonderland is a classic tale of adventure and imagination. It teaches us that it’s important to be curious and to explore the world around us. It also teaches us that even the strangest and most wonderful things can be real, if we only believe.

THE END

P.S. Wow, that was weirder than I thought. That’s why it never hurts to go back to the basics. Anyway, I will refrain from more thoughts, but please do feel free to share yours in the comments! This will be fun. And scary. That’s a promise.

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