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You cannot see many of the problems with your own writing, as you are so close to the manuscript. ProWritingAid can help you self-edit your work before you take it on to a human editor, so they can focus on the bigger issues.
In this episode, Chris Banks, the CEO of ProWritingAid talks about how developments in AI have added functionality to the software to help writers even more.
If you'd like to support the podcast, you can use my affiliate link, www.TheCreativePenn.com/prowritingaid and check out my tutorial here. Or you can just go to ProWritingAid.com.
Chris Banks is the CEO and founder of ProWritingAid, which has over 1.5 million users worldwide.
You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and the full transcript is below.
- The key benefits of ProWritingAid
- The evolution of grammar tools as technology accelerates
- Skepticism about using AI tools in your writing and how to overcome it
- AI tools as a creative companion
- Can using AI tools lead to plagiarism?
- Problems with tools that ‘detect' AI-generated writing
- Why this is such an exciting time for creatives
You can find Chris at ProWritingAid.com
Transcript of Interview with Chris Banks
Chris: Chris Banks is the CEO and founder of ProWritingAid, which has over 1.5 million users worldwide, including myself. So welcome back to the show, Chris.
Thanks, Joanna. It's a pleasure to be here.
Joanna: Oh, yes. We were talking before about how we're so excited right now about all the things going on. But before we look forward—
Let's just tell people a bit more about ProWritingAid.
So if anyone doesn't know it, can you give us just a brief overview of some of the key benefits?
Chris: Yes. Well, the tool basically is designed to make writing fun and easy. We try and do all of the heavy lifting and take away the difficult bits of writing. So all of the kind of boring bits that you might struggle with, all of the things that take a lot of time and don't bring you any joy, ProWritingAid is designed to help you get rid of those and to make your life a lot easier and fun.
Joanna: And just some of the specifics. So I use it for editing, and it does things like pick up my terrible comma usage and some of my passive language, which I always use. Anything else that you think is commonly used by authors?
Chris: Yes, I think I designed the tool to help myself and to criticize myself, to find all of the mistakes that I was making when I was writing. I think when you're doing a first draft, I always think of the first draft as a quote by Shannon Hale, where “you're just piling up sand so that later you can build castles out of it.”
So in the first draft, you're just trying to get everything down, all of your thoughts, all of your stories. It's about flow. Then when you move into the editing phase afterwards, that's about constructing things and building these beautiful castles.
So what ProWritingAid does is it helps you with that construction process.
It goes through your first draft and shows you all of the areas that you need to focus on in order to take that first draft to a publishable manuscript.
So that's things like, have you overused passive voice? Have you used too many cliches? Have you used repetitive sentence structures? Grammar mistakes, common mistakes, things along the lines of have you shown rather than told, in terms of like emotions or other areas.
The idea is to take all of the advice that you would read in books on writing, and actually apply that to your own writing and show you where you need to focus yourself to get the most out of your time.
Joanna: And actually, what you just said there is one of the criticisms that I have had, because obviously, I love ProWritingAid, I use it. I have a video tutorial, and someone posted a comment which basically said something along the lines of, “You're lazy. You should learn all these rules yourself.” I mean, what do you think about that? Should we be reading all those books and learning all the rules and applying them?
Are we losing something by using a tool to help us with writing?
Chris: I think you probably have read all of those books, Joanna!
Joanna: I have. Yes!
Chris: I certainly read a lot of them, but I can't remember them. And I think what a lot of people struggle with is actually taking that advice that you get in books and actually applying it to your own writing. Because often it's quite abstract, we don't really see the connection. So that's what we're trying to do.
I always think, going back to that metaphor of building castles, right? When you're constructing something, you have a bunch of tools that help you construct it.
If you were going to build a house, you would have like a digger, and a crane, and a dumper truck that would make building your house an awful lot easier. Yes, you could do it without those things, but it will take you an awful lot longer, and it would be much less enjoyable. So ProWritingAid is a tool, like any of those things, that just makes the whole process a lot easier and a lot faster.
Joanna: And actually, I learn something every time I use it. Like as you say, you might know a rule in your head, like ‘oh yes, I should not use repetitive words' or something, but then you can't see it on the screen, and you can't see it on the page necessarily.
I find that I always learn something, and then of course, hopefully, the next time around, you will get a better score because ProWritingAid gives you a score for your chapters. My goal is to try and get it into the higher level score before I even use the tool. So you can challenge yourself to become a better writer. I definitely find it helps me with that.
Chris: Yes, I think that is one of the benefits of the tool as well, is that it gives you that objective eye. I think everybody needs an objective eye. If you think of like the best sports people in the world, they have a coach who watches them doing their sports and gives them advice on how to do it better. They can't do that themselves because they can't see themselves doing the sport.
So ProWritingAid is giving people that objective eye. Yes, it would be great if everybody could afford to have their own personal writing coach who reviewed everything that they ever wrote and gave them feedback, but that's beyond the means of most people.
So what we're trying to do is give that to everybody, so that you can get that first objective eye. Maybe then you use an editor to get another objective eye, but by using ProWritingAid first, you're getting a lot more value from your editor, and there'll be certainly doing the part of their job that they prefer doing.
Joanna: I imagine a lot of editors do use these tools. It's not like they print out manuscripts and hand-edit everything. And maybe some people still do that, but everyone uses tools as part of their job.
Chris: Exactly. And a lot of editors actually recommend ProWritingAid to their clients, that they use ProWritingAid before they send it to the editor, specifically because you'll get a lot more value out of your editor if they're not correcting simple grammar mistakes and showing you the simpler things.
But they're really helping you with things like your tone of voice, your plot holes, characterization, those kinds of things. You'll be a lot happier because you feel like you're getting more from your editor. Your editor will be happier because they're not correcting simple things. Everybody wins.
Joanna: Absolutely. It takes us further. It enhances us. We should be returning to that as a thought.
You were last on the show in April 2021, so almost—we're recording this in the middle of March—so April 2021, two years ago, when we first talked.
What has changed for ProWritingAid, in the software, but also with the company as well?
Did the pandemic, which was still in sort of full flow then, change things? What have you noticed over the last few years?
Chris: Well, I think there's been a seismic shift in everything over the last few years. I mean, for ProWritingAid as a company, I think at the beginning of the pandemic, we saw a lot of people going online. So writing, in general, became a lot more important. A lot of communication became through the written word, through documents.
I think a lot of people realized actually how effective communicating through writing and putting your thoughts down on paper can be. Because I think writing is a really powerful tool for helping you crystallize your thoughts in a much better way than you can just in your head.
Obviously, I think for us as a company, a lot of people were stuck at home and started writing novels or memoirs or whatever they wanted to work on. So things got really busy.
And then more recently, obviously, I think the technology has advanced massively, even in the last six months. You've probably all heard of ChatGPT. The underlying technology of that is something called transformers, which is something that we used for several years in our grammar checking but has suddenly taken a huge leap forward. We are now using that, and we can do things now that six months ago would literally have been impossible. It's very, very exciting time from a technology perspective as well.
Joanna: Well, let's split that into two things. So first of all, you said that ProWritingAid has been using the transformer technology. And obviously we don't need to go into technical details, but I mean, so ProWritingAid, it's not new that you're using AI. So if we look sort of backward—
How have you been using AI in ProWritingAid?
Chris: Yes. So I mean, pretty much from the start we've used AI. Language, on the surface, it seems quite simple. But underneath, it's incredibly complicated. If you think how long it took for people to have even reasonable grammar checkers. If you look back 10 years ago, grammar checkers were pretty terrible, and they're only getting to the stage now where they're actually a lot better.
All of that has come from AI and using effectively like the statistical models in AI. And then previously if we wanted to do very specific things, we would have to build very specific models, which would involve generating a training set or acquiring a training set from somewhere, creating a model, and then applying it so that we could deliver value to people.
The big change over the last six months is that these models have transformed into what are called now foundational models, which means that these models can actually just do a lot of things without actually any specific training.
So this means that you can take one model and use it for as many things as you can think of, rather than previously, everything that you wanted to do, you'd have to generate your own model. So it means that we can now do effectively 100 times or more things much more easily than we could previously.
Joanna: And also, you said that we can do things now that you couldn't do six months ago.
What have you added to ProWritingAid because of the acceleration of AI technology?
Chris: So we're just getting started, obviously, because it's so new. But for me, this is solving the missing piece of ProWritingAid.
So the problem that we've always had with the product is that we could often show you where there was a problem, but in that case, we'd have to show you that there was a problem here, and then we'd say, right, now go away, read these articles, and you have to work out how to fix that problem.
So obviously, with basic spelling and grammar, we could suggest it, but with more complicated things, we would have to rely on you doing that. And obviously, for some people, that's quite a lot of work, and they just think, ugh, too much effort, I can't be bothered, I'll give up.
Whereas now, with these new models, we can for pretty much everything, show you several examples of it, on your own work, of how you should fix it. And then you can choose between those examples or you can combine them and come up with your own take on it.
So over the next three, four, five months, I hope that whereas we had lots of suggestions in ProWritingAid before where we couldn't give you examples of what good looked like, we should be able to give you examples that you can accept for pretty much everything in the product.
Joanna: That's fantastic. And I mean, I was on ChatGPT the morning it launched. I was so excited when it came out. And I was like, woo hoo, and it was super fun.
And one of the things that's interesting, because I'm a discovery writer, so I just sit down and I kind of make it up as I go along. Like I'm not a plotter or anything like that. But one of the interesting things is being able to paste in a chapter, and then ask it to summarize, to kind of do text in different ways. Is that something that you might consider? Because there are lots of reports, aren't there, in ProWritingAid?
Chris: Yes, there are lots of reports. They're all designed to work on different areas. And I think, again, a lot of them we didn't integrate into the real-time checking because they required a lot more work. Whereas now, with the things that we can do, we can actually bring that more into the real-time checking.
So a good example of something that, I mean, it literally blew my mind the first time I saw this. I think humans love to see lots of really kind of like detailed descriptions of scenes, of people. It really helps to engage people with your writing. And I think a lot of time people don't include enough like sensory detail about the smell, or the taste, or the touch of the things in their story.
Now we can identify where there's a lack of sensory detail, and then we can suggest a complete rewrite of a paragraph or a couple of paragraphs where we suggest sensory detail that you can add.
So that might be like the sound of the clock or the sounds generated by like a car going down a path. It's just amazing when you see the transformations. It's incredible. And again, we don't necessarily get you to 100%, but we'll get you somewhere where you really understand what problem is, and then you can use your own take on it.
Joanna: I love this sensory detail stuff. I think it's fantastic. Again, we all have strengths and weaknesses, and I'm very good at visual stuff. So my visual descriptions are usually pretty good, but I always forget smell. And I often forget hearing because I'm an introvert, I don't really like noise.
So I find this sensory detail to be really useful because it suggests things that I haven't even thought of, based on a context. I think this is amazing. And yet, this is actually one of the criticisms that people have.
So again, it almost comes back to the, “well, you should read the grammar books, and you should know the rules.”
And so some writers who are slightly resistant, or even more than slightly resistant to AI, would say either, that's cheating, or it's replacing the author's creativity.
They feel in some way that we're missing out because we're not just pulling it all from our brain.
Chris: Well, I think that's an interesting question. And you might say the same about, for instance, using a thesaurus. Is using a thesaurus cheating because you're not pulling those different words that you could be using out of your brain?
I would say no. And I would say that any tool that you use to find different ways of expressing yourself, for me, it's not cheating, it's just common sense.
So for example, to give a specific example, there's a resource called The Emotion Thesaurus, which I think a lot of writers use, the idea being that you should show the emotions of your characters rather than tell them. So you shouldn't say that somebody is angry, right, you should show their face getting red, and their knuckles going wide, and all of the physical characteristics of them being angry, rather than just saying he was really angry. So The Emotion Thesaurus is a really good resource, I highly recommend it to anybody who hasn't tried it out. It gives you all have these descriptions that you can use, if you have a character that is angry.
Now, one of the great things that we could do is actually also help with that process as well. Whereas before, I would just say, you know, “Here you said he's angry. Maybe you need to go and look at how you can show he's angry instead.”
Very soon we'll be adding functionality that will actually show you four different or five different suggestions of how you might write the sentence better to show the physical symptoms of him being angry, rather than just saying he's angry.
You could do that process by looking at The Emotion Thesaurus as well, it will take you longer. I would highly recommend also using The Emotion Thesaurus as well, because we are by no means exhaustive. Or you could just sit there thinking for an hour on your own of what physical description you have for somebody who's angry. It is the same process effectively, you're just being more efficient.
Joanna: Yes, and use the word efficient, which is partly true, but I have also found that it's made me more creative because it comes up with things that I might not have thought of, like we mentioned the sensory description. I often talk about this extended thesaurus idea, and it's just a sort of tool on steroids, really. I think that, as you said, what's coming in is this ability to enhance our creative thinking rather than replace it.
So I still have to, like within ProWritingAid, I still have to put in the raw material, and then have it suggest alternatives. So it's still from my mind, it's just enhancing what I want to create. And I've certainly found using some of these things that I come up with better ideas. And often there might be an idea that I think, no, that's not quite right, but it helps me think of something else.
Chris: I completely agree. I mean, I'm really interested in the area, it's called computational creativity, like how we can use computers to be more creative ourselves.
And I think as humans, we can really get stuck in like holes, and I think that's where writer's block comes from. Where you really struggle to get outside of this valley that your brain settled in, like this is the only thing I can think of. And there's a super interesting feature of all of these things like ChatGPT, is as a kind of creative companion.
You know, if I said to you, can you name like 10 adjectives, you'd probably come up with five really quickly, and then it just gets harder and harder to think of them as it goes onwards. Whereas if you put that into ChatGPT, it would just carry on listing them all day.
It's this kind of inexhaustible creative companion that can just give you ideas, and then you're effectively curating those ideas into your creative work.
So yeah, for me, it's an amazing creative companion.
Joanna: I like that. The inexhaustible creative companion. That's exactly how I feel.
Just to address some of the other concerns that authors have about AI, and of course, ‘AI' is like ‘the internet.' It doesn't necessarily mean one thing, it's really big, but it's the term that people are still using.
So the training data, people are concerned that works in copyright have been used to train, you mentioned foundational models, and therefore the original creators of those works are not fairly compensated. And of course, there are legal cases. So this is literally not something that has been decided. What's your understanding of this issue?
Chris: I think it's really interesting.
I think with this kind of massive shift in technology, we will obviously need changes in the legal system as well.
To use a kind of comparison, for me it's like cars being invented. Before there were cars, you didn't need to have road laws, necessarily. But we've invented this new thing that will be used in some good ways, and undoubtedly some bad ways. So we will need to generate new laws to govern that as well.
I think fundamentally, there's a lot of comparison, though, between AI and humans as well, right? The AI is based on human biology, the idea of neurons, and it learns in a similar way to humans by reading things.
So when you're writing something as a human, arguably, you've read books, you've read copyright things on the internet, and when you're writing, what you're producing is based on what you've read. So are you worried about copyright in that case? Probably not. I think there's always going to be a continuum, and different people will be on different places on the continuum.
For me, it's very interesting because I think one of the things people say is, “Oh, it's going to plagiarize things from the internet.” It's much less likely to plagiarize things from the internet than an actual human is, which is kind of ironic. Because it's read so many things, the paths it takes to predict what to say next are so many more, that it is much less likely to follow the same path of something it's read than a human is.
It's kind of difficult to explain, but if you imagine you're walking through a garden, if you've only seen like two pieces of text in your life, every like fork in the road, there's only two ways you can go, so you can go left or right.
So you can say there are like ten different forks, but the chances are, you're going to follow the same path as somebody else has in that garden. Whereas if every fork you get to there's actually like a thousand different ways you could go, and there's ten different partner forks, then you're much less likely to follow the same path as somebody. So a human is that one that's only got two paths in front of them because it's seen much less data than an AI.
So ironically, I would be much more worried about an individual person accidentally writing the same sentence as somebody else, or an editor changing the sentence to be the same as somebody else, than I would be about an AI producing the same sentence as it has seen somewhere in a copyrighted work.
Joanna: As you say, we can't go too deep into the technology, but I feel like people think it's almost a database where it kind of pulls out a line, like you ask it something or you have some text and it rewrites it, and it pulls out a line from an exact database.
But as you said, it's more a predictive model that has all these different paths that it could do.
Are you saying that if ProWritingAid offers us a suggestion of a rewritten sentence, we should not worry that that could be plagiarized?
Chris: Yeah, well, so when we rewrite things, obviously, it's based on what you've written. So fundamentally, it's the same process of you writing something, and then you sending it to your editor, and then they make some edits to that sentence.
Now, I don't think anybody has ever said, “I'm worried that by using a copy editor, they might rewrite my sentence and plagiarize something.” But I would say it's much more likely that your copy editor would put you in that situation than any AI tool would.
Joanna: Well, it's interesting, because I actually recommend to people, and I personally also use ProWritingAid's plagiarism checker. So I have used some generative text in a short story, and I used the plagiarism checker to run over it just in case. Again, I don't normally do that for my own books because I feel like I'm happy with my process. But when it includes some words that have been generated, I decided to do this.
ProWritingAid has a plagiarism checker. What do you think of that extra step?
I mean, maybe it's just for my own happy feeling.
Chris: Well, I think it's completely natural that you feel that way. And like people worry about this, and it's a very new technology. So anything that's new, I think people have a healthy dose of skepticism about and worry.
For me, plagiarism is an interesting area, and I think there is definitely an ability for this tool to be used for bad, in terms of plagiarism. Just in the same way that you could use a car, you could drive it into the front of a shop and steal all of the things from a shop. Just because you can misuse something, doesn't mean that it's bad.
I think we'll have to really rethink actually what constitutes plagiarism. Because it can be used, for instance, to take an article and rephrase every sentence. And then that is clearly plagiarized from my perspective, you haven't done anything yourself. But no plagiarism checker that I'm aware of currently would ever find that. So I think plagiarism checking almost is less useful now. Undoubtedly, there'll be advances in that area, but it's definitely losing the battle currently.
Joanna: It's interesting, I mean, what about the AI writing checkers that are starting to spring up? Because as you say, I mean, and I've been using all these tools as creative companions. As you say, I have my own sense of what I want to create, so I don't need to just copy and paste whole things from an AI tool, but some people obviously are doing that. That is already happening.
Now there are these tools popping up that kind of try and find what is AI-generated writing. Now as someone who's been putting articles online for over a decade, I kind of feel like someone could create, and in fact, someone has sent me a thing where they use ChatGPT to pretend they were Joanna Penn and write an article in the style of Joanna Penn. And it could have been me, it really could have been me. And yet that is AI-generated.
So I have not used any of these tools because I almost feel like, well, it will be a false positive. It'll say my writing is AI writing, but maybe because there's so much on the internet and I followed rules around SEO and blah, blah, blah. You know what I mean?
What do you think about any tools that will pick up AI-generated writing?
Chris: Yeah, I think as I alluded before, it's going to be an arms race. I think plagiarism-checking tools now are losing that by a long way.
There are a bunch of tools that have come out recently that purport to be checking tools. I think most of them have been proven to be fairly useless and give lots of false positives, which means that they're effectively not very useful for much.
For me, it's less about whether it's written with the help of AI, versus, like plagiarized. And I think plagiarism for me, anybody who writes a novel, if you write like 100,000 words, there will be a section of your text, like undoubtedly, where you've used five words, six words that somebody else has used in another novel. I mean, that's just a fact. But nobody would say using six words that are fairly generic is plagiarism. Whereas if you use like six very specific words from a famous quote, then people would say, well, that is plagiarism.
If I take an entire article and rewrite it, that's clearly plagiarism. If I write an article and reword it with an AI tool, that's clearly not plagiarism. So I think we're going to have a redrawing of the boundaries and the definitions of what is plagiarism.
Joanna: And what is copyright, I think as well. I think copyright is going to be interesting. I mean, it's emerging more in the visual arts space at the moment because it's kind of easier in visual art to see something, whereas in a book, it's a lot more to go through. I mean, copyright feels like it's changing.
Just to be clear, so if someone is working on their book in ProWritingAid, so as I do, I use Scrivener, I open ProWritingAid, I open my Scrivener document, and I work through it. Now, if I rephrase something and I take ProWritingAid's suggestion for that line, I can still copyright my whole book because that's my product.
Joanna: Just checking in case people were confused.
I also wanted to circle back to something you talked about earlier, and you mentioned the foundational models.
And one of the things that I find useful in ProWritingAid is a style guide. So for example, if I'm writing a fantasy novel, or I have certain words that I use, I can put them in. Now one of the thing that's interesting for me is this idea of fine tuning models. So having my voice.
When ProWritingAid, for example, suggests a rewrite, is there a potential in the future, because, again, like you said, we're at the beginning of all of these changes.
Is there a potential to fine tune so that it will suggest things that I actually would use as part of my normal writing?
Chris: Yeah, there's definitely potential, and I think there's potential on various levels. So I think if we look at different companies, for instance, every company will have like their tone of voice, which is their attempt to homogenize the way that they talk across a large group of people. They might say, “We use lots of short sentences, it's really positive,” or, “We use like lots of long technical language because we're Ferrari and we want our customers to think they're getting more for their money.” Obviously, individuals, I think as well, will say, “Well, I like to talk, my voice is very dark, or airy, or very magical.”
So there's that kind of prescriptive way of just configuring like how I want my writing to sound, then the text that's generated will be guided by that. But then for people like yourself, who've got a large body of written work already, then there is a definite possibility of this fine-tuning, where you actually create a model that's specifically tuned to the way that you write.
So the results that are produced by the model will be a lot closer to your general style of writing. So I think there's a lot of potential in that area as well.
Joanna: I really like that idea, especially in the editing. Because it's funny, probably over a year ago now, I worked with a company to fine-tune a model that was more the generative stuff. So this was pre-ChatGPT days, which you know, things move on so fast now. And so I trained this model, and then I was like, oh, I'm so bored, because I didn't want to co-create with myself.
You mentioned the creative companion, I don't want a creative companion that is myself. That actually wasn't helping me. But in the editing phase, I do want myself because then it's a consistent voice.
Whereas in that early creative phase, I want someone whose “brain” is different to my own. So I ditched that fine-tuned model because I actually enjoyed the sense of creativity with bigger models, the bigger GPT models. So it's different stages of the process, isn't it?
And definitely within my editing stage, that is definitely when I would want my voice.
Chris: Yeah, I completely agree. I read a quote once, “A different perspective is worth 50 IQ points.” And I completely agree with that. You want a different person to be creative with, to throw ideas around, to suggest different ways of saying it.
As I eluded before, that beginning phase is all about just getting all of these ideas down. They don't have to be great ideas. They're just your ideas. Right?
There's another thing which says, all the first draft has to do is exist, that's his only job. Right? Once it exists, then you've got something that you can build on. But if you haven't got a first draft, then you haven't got anything. So yeah, the two processes, I think, are very different needs, as you say, different creative companions. One needs to be very like you and one needs to be like your opposite.
Joanna: Yes, it's so funny as we're both reaching for language here. We're like “creative companion” and use the word “brain.” And we've used the word “person” as well, which I think is interesting.
This is a struggle right now, it's actually quite hard to use language to talk about these tools. That's what is so strange.
Chris: Yeah, well, it's such a jump forward that people are having to rethink all kinds of different things, and obviously create their own new vocabulary to describe the way that these models work and how they're going to interact with them. I think the potential is just enormous.
Joanna: So anything else that you're excited about or that you can tease us for the future of ProWritingAid? Or just anything that you're just enthusiastic about right now for what's coming?
Well, I am possibly the biggest advocate of AI in the entire world. I think it's got the potential to solve huge problems in the world.
For me, it's a huge step forward, and there's so much potential. We're really just starting to touch the surface of what we can do.
And that is why, for me, and ProWritingAid, this is literally the most exciting time now since I started the company because the number of features that we've got planned to come out this year is just enormous. The amount of extra value that we can deliver to people, and how much easier we can make writers' lives I think is just phenomenal.
Joanna: I'm excited.
Where can people find ProWritingAid online and stay up to date with everything that's coming?
Chris: Oh, ProWritingAid.com. But then we've also recently launched a community as well. Writing can be very lonely, I think, so it's nice to have a community to bounce ideas off when you didn't have ChatGPT. But to get critique and to discuss things and learn, Community.ProWritingAid.com is where you can go there as well.
There's a power user group in there as well, for any of our power users if they're listening. Or if you are a power user, and you're not in the group, then send me an email and we can add you. And then you can start to have a say in the future of ProWritingAid as well. Because fundamentally, we're here to make all of your lives easier, to make writing fun and easy. So the more feedback that we get from our users, the better we can make the tool, and the more we can make life fun.
Joanna: Indeed. Well, thanks so much for your time, Chris. That was great.
Chris: I really appreciate it.
Hi Joanna. Thanks, this was super-interesting and relevant for me, as I’m about to start editing a series of books I’ve just written (and I have a lifetime Pro-Writing Aid subscription from a few years back that I’ve never really used before now, but sounds like I will be getting tons of value from it shortly!)
One minor thing I noticed in this transcript: it used “eluded” instead of “alluded” at one point. Just goes to show that, despite the ever-increasing wonders of AI, we humans can still add value too 🙂
Joanna Penn says
The first draft of the transcript is AI, but then I have a human VA edit and format, and then I check it too. So you can have humans + AI and still fail 🙂
Rick Cook says
Good points about humans adding value, too. It’s funny also because I spotted a half dozen grammatical & punctuation errors in the final version of the interview. For example, under “The Emotional Thesaurus” discussion, this sentence came up: “you should show their face getting red, and their knuckles going wide”. Note that should be “white”, not “wide”.
Loved the in-depth discussion about the tool & the technology & I’ll definitely check ProWritingAid out. But honestly, I feel compelled as a public speaker to give Chris some advice. As a CEO, if you really use the word “like” as many times as is listed in this interview, you sound like you’re still, like, in, like, ya know, high school, like. Expunge that word from your vocabulary except as used in a simile, please! You’ll come across as MUCH more professional.
Thanks for the tips about the tool, though. I’m off to check it out!
Joanna Penn says
Thanks Rick — on the transcript, the first draft is AI, the second is my assistant, and then I read it through myself, so the issues are not from AI. But given the importance of accessibility, I choose to have a transcript whereas many shows don’t. It costs time and money to produce one and I hope that it’s worthwhile, even with minor issues.
Sharon Lippincott says
I’m finding that using apps like ProWritingAid are a mixed blessing. Yes, I do need help with punctuation, and occasional suggestions add value. But more than half the time, following the improvement tips would sanitize my story, erasing my uniquely personal voice. For example, expunging every instance of passive voice would confuse the meaning in places. I predictably get great feedback on my style. How does one learn to find that balance?
Joanna Penn says
I certainly don’t use every suggestion, maybe about 80% based on what ‘feels’ right!