Automuse: A System for Generating Fiction Novels

Published on , 2242 words, 9 minutes to read

Cadey is coffee

If you know of any AI/Machine Learning scientific journals or academic conferences, I have an academic paper version of this post available here. I would love to submit this paper to be formally published, but I'm not sure where to send it.


A novel approach to generating fiction novels using a combination of Plotto, a system of plot formulas, and GPT-4, a state-of-the-art language model is presented. An eBook publication pipeline that automates the process of creating and formatting eBooks from the generated text is also described. The aim is to explore the potential and limitations of using artificial intelligence for creative writing, as well as to provide a tool for amusement and experimentation.

For an example of what Automuse output looks like, see the premere novel Network Stranded.


Modern advancements in large language models such as GPT-4 present many opportunities when used creatively. There have been a few attempts at doing this such as Echoes of Atlantis which used the ChatGPT web UI to synthesize prose to fill a novel, but none of these options were sufficiently automated for the author's tastes.

The goal of Automuse is to be able to fabricate these novels in minutes with little or no human intervention. As such, existing processes and published prior works were insufficient, requiring Automuse to be created.

Automuse is distributed as a GitHub repository for anyone to download or attempt to use.


The author discovered Plotto, a kind of algebra for generating the overall plot structure of pulp novels. This was written by William Cook, a man affectionately known as "the man who deforested Canada", who had an impressive publishing record at up to one entire novel written every week.

The authors wanted to find out if such a publishing pace could be met using the ChatGPT API. After experimentation and repair of plottoriffic, a Node.js package to implement Plotto's rule evaluation engine, Automuse was created. Automuse wraps the following tools:


According to the National November Writing Month rules, the works of Automuse count as "novels". In testing, the program has been able to produce works of over 50,000 words (usually by a margin of 5-10 percent). The outputs of the program have been described as "hilarious", "partially nonsensical", and overall they have left readers wanting more somehow.

The authors of this paper consider this to be a success, though they note that future research is required to ascertain as to why readers have an affinity towards the AI generated content.


When writing novels, generally you start by creating the premise of a novel, the major actors and their functions, the overall motivations, and the end result of the story. Plotto is a system that helps you do all of this by following a series of rules to pick a core conflict and then flesh things out with details. As an example, here is the core plot summary that Potto created for Network Stranded:

Enterprise / Misfortune: Meeting with Misfortune and Being Cast Away in a Primitive, Isolated, and Savage Environment

A Lawless Person

Ismael takes a sea voyage in the hope of recovering aer health Ismael, taking a sea voyage, is shipwrecked and cast away on a desert island

Ismael, of gentle birth and breeding, is isolated in a primitive, uninhabited wilderness, and compelled to battle with Nature for aer very existence

Ismael, without food or water, is adrift in a small boat at sea

Comes finally to the blank wall of enigma.

Cadey is coffee

It's worth noting that Plotto is very much a product of its time. Plotto was written in the late 1920's and as such the information it generates is very dated and can sometimes generate things that are seen as problematic in modern sensibilities. Luckily, ChatGPT seems to sand away this roughness and is able to fabricate a better premise. All the pronouns are replaced with ae/aer because that is a decision that the creator of Plottoriffic made at some point.

From this description, ChatGPT is used to create a plot summary for the novel. These summaries look like this:

After a disastrous turn of events, software engineer, Mia, finds herself stranded on a deserted island with no communication to the outside world. Mia uses her knowledge of peer to peer networks to create a makeshift communication system with other stranded individuals around the world, all connected by the same network. Together, they navigate survival and search for a way back to civilization while facing challenges posed by the island.

Mara is hacker

Normally GPT "hallucinations" (or when the model generates grammatically valid nonsense) are seen as an impediment or something to avoid. In this case, hallucinations are actually useful, as the summaries from Plotto are rarely enough information to fabricate believable stories. It was intended as an aid to the writing process, not a replacement for it.

In the same prompt, ChatGPT also creates a list of chapters for the novel with a high level summary of the events that happen in them. Here is the chapter list for Network Stranded:

These chapter names and descriptions are fed into ChatGPT with the novel summary to create a list of scenes with major events in them. Here is the list of scenes for Chapter 1: "Disaster Strikes":

These scene descriptions are fed into ChatGPT to generate plausible prose to describe the novel. The main innovation of this part is that ChatGPT is few-shot primed to continue each scene after initial writing. If ChatGPT emitted a scene such as:

As the helicopter landed, Ismael saw the first human beings he had seen in days. They jumped down from the helicopter, and looked at him with a mix of pity and relief. Ismael couldn't believe it – he was finally going home.

As the helicopter took off, Ismael looked back at the deserted island, knowing that he had survived against all odds, but also knowing that he would never forget the terror and hopelessness that had left its mark on him forever.

The next prompt would be primed with the last paragraph, allowing ChatGPT to continue writing the story in a plausible manner. This does not maintain context or event contiunity, however the authors consider this to be a feature. When the authors have access to the variant of GPT-4 with an expanded context window, they plan to use this to generate more detailed scenes.

Known Issues

Automuse is known to have a number of implementation problems that may hinder efforts to use it in a productive manner. These include, but are not limited to the following:

Potential Industry Effects

According to Dan Olson's documentary about the predatory ghostwriting industry named Contrepreneurs: The Mikkensen Twins, the average pay rate for a ghostwriter for The Urban Writers can get as low as USD$0.005 per word. Given that Automuse spends about $0.20 to write about 50,000 words using GPT-3.5, this makes Automuse a significant cost reduction in the process for creating pulp novels, or about 1,250 times cheaper than hiring a human to perform the same job.

This would make Automuse an incredibly cost-effective solution for churning out novels at an industrial scale. With a total unit development cost of $0.35 (including additional costs for cover design with Stable Diffusion, etc.), this could displace the lower end of the human-authored creative writing profession by a significant margin.

However, the quality of novels generated by Automuse is questionable at best. It falters and stubles with complicated contexts that haven't been written before. At one point in Network Stranded, the protagonist shares a secret to another character and that secret is never revealed to the reader.

It is worth noting that the conditions that writers for groups like The Urban Writers are absolutely miserable. If this technology manages to displace them, this may be a blessing in disguise. The conditions put upon writers to meet quotas and deadlines are unimaginably strict. This technology could act as a means of liberation for people forced to endure these harsh conditions, allowing them to pursue other ventures that may be better uses of their time and skills.

But, this would potentially funnel income away from them. In our capitalist society, income is required in order to afford basic necessities such as food, lodging, and clothing. This presents an ethical challenge that is beyond the scope of Automuse to fix.

If an Automuse novel manages to generate more than $1 of income, this will represent a net profit. More sales means that there is more profit potential, as novel generation costs are fixed upon synthesis of the prose. This program is known to use a very small amount of resources, it is concievable that a system could be set up on a very cheap ($50 or less) development board and then automatically create novels on a weekly cadence for less than a total cost of $5 per month.


Automuse is a promising solution for people looking to experiment with the use of large language models such as GPT-3.5 or GPT-4 to generate fiction prose. Automuse's source code and selected outputs are made freely available to the public for inspection and inspiration of future downstream projects. The authors of this paper hope that Automuse is entertaining and encourage readers to engage with the novel Network Stranded as an example of Automuse's capabilities. There is a promising future ahead.

Facts and circumstances may have changed since publication. Please contact me before jumping to conclusions if something seems wrong or unclear.

Tags: cursed, GPT4, Plotto, writing