Who needs novelists or ghostwriters now that we have AI and do writers need to be afraid?

As a ghostwriter, I was strangely excited yet simultaneously afraid when I was shown ChatGTP for the first ime. The awe came from seeing both the speed at which a question was answered and the humanness within the interaction. No longer was it clear I was dealing with a bot dishing out a set of standard text boxes; instead, I was being addressed in a disarmingly familiar way.

Where AI falls short

I took an MA in Creative Writing almost twenty years ago now, and as a writer, I have traversed the era in which ebooks thankfully did not entirely replace physical books, though at one time they were expected to make them obsolete. Though there are perhaps fewer bookshops, plentiful physical books are still being produced. Despite the initial surge in sales in the early 2010s, the narrative that ebooks would obliterate physical books, thankfully, hasn’t materialised. According to industry reports, ebook sales saw a dramatic rise until about 2014 but have since plateaued and, in some cases, declined. (Yey!) 

Print remains the preferred format for many readers – young and old – and hardback books have even seen a recent surge in sales. In 2022, the UK saw record book sales, an enormous 669 million!

Books are beautiful and the best kind of decoration for any room. Whether the orange spine of Penguin books or the leather and gold of a rare Antiqurain book, they bring warmth, depth, and the silent promise of enticement. 


I compare the explosion of various AI platforms to the advent of ebooks, for I believe it will reach a certain point and similarly plateau. Like many other writers, I’ve had fun playing around with ChatGTP. For non-fiction, the uses are obvious; it’s like a people-pleasing Google on speed. As a ghostwriter of primarily memoirs and biographies, I can learn what it’s like to dive in the Red Sea or climb a hill to view a coffee plantation in Kenya. It can’t, however, replicate my clients’ way of seeing things. 


When you ask for fiction, you are often met with melodrama, with too many adverbs and, again, a dose of people-pleasing. I can see my MA lecturers shaking their heads at its output. The rules that make writing an immersive and believable experience, producing an encompassing fictional dream, seem all but absent. 

So, what makes AI fall short on the fiction front? That’s easy. It has no soul. No heart or soul. It hasn’t had a disturbed childhood or a traumatic divorce, isn’t a recovering alcoholic or a prisoner of its mind, and certainly hasn’t felt ousted from society. It’s simply surfing an entangled web of information and doing its best as a good robot to satisfy you. People pleasing again! It can’t grasp the nuances of personality, emotional depth, cultural differences, and consistency of style. What you’re getting is likely to have no originality considering, well, its origins.


Therefore, don’t give up on writing your novel yet. AI might have its uses when it comes to research or even structure, but as to the main bulk of the novel, well, that requires the things that science and robots cannot replicate and most likely never will: intuition, depth and soul. The pieces that, in essence, make a human, a human and not a robot; that elusive spark that separates the awake from the dead. 

If you need a little human support in getting there, I offer writing coaching programs from 6 weeks up to a year. I have guided writers to the point of publication and inspired many others to complete a first draft. It’s not cheating to want someone’s support; it’s human. Please take a look at my website for further details:

A journey shared is a journey made simpler. I offer a free 15-minute call to see if we might be a good fit. I look forward to speaking with you! 

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