Inside No. 9 and AI Writing

In today’s Journal

* Inside No. 9
* AI Writing
* Seriously, What Gives?
* Of Interest

Inside No. 9

I keep forgetting to mention, if you want to see some really great short stories in film, take a look at Inside No. 9, a British black-comedy anthology.

According to the internet, the anthology is “available on NOW TV, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, Netflix, iTunes and YouTube.” I get it through my BritBox subscription.

So what does this have to do with writing? Well, the writing (storytelling) for Inside No. 9 is excellent. And the scripts are available to purchase if you’d like to study them. (grin)

In paperback, both series (seasons) 1-3 and 4-6 are available for around $20 each via Amazon, Thriftbooks and other places. The value of these scripts to script writers is obvious. As Neil Gaiman wrote,

“The joy of these scripts is in being able to appreciate the craft and ambition involved in the sharpness of the dialogue, the cunning of the plotting, and the desire never to repeat themselves, as Pemberton and Shearsmith build each episode into a miniaturist treasure. A must for anyone who wants to write for television, or who just wants to see how the magic is done.”

For fiction writers who are not interested in writing scripts, it might also be a good writing exercise to ‘type-in’ one or more Inside No. 9 stories while omitting stage direction, etc. Again, as Gaiman wrote, “to see how the magic is done.” (Of course, this would be only for your own experience and training. You can’t legally publish the result.)

Inside No. 9 is also an interesting concept: individual stories all based on the same theme. Something to think about.

AI Writing

I guess I just don’t get it. Why are so many writers so interested in eradicating their own unique, original voice instead of nurturing and developing it?

Based on what I’ve heard about comments at writer boards, and on what I’ve seen and heard personally from members of online and physical writer or critique groups, writer organizations, and even professional advice websites like the Kill Zone blog, the concept of “create” gets a lot of lip service but very little practice.

Almost all would-be fiction writers and almost all Stage 1 and 2 (and a lot of Stage 3) fiction writers depend heavily on their conscious, critical, rational, machine-like mind to construct stories block by block, element by element, instead of trusting their creative subconscious to create stories.

Those writers depend on the safety nets of character sketches, outlines or “sign posts,” revision, outside critiques, rewrites, editing passes, and more.

All that instead of simply witnessing the tale at the time their characters are living it in their creative subconscious and conveying it as it unfolds. It’s such a simple concept to grasp, yet most seem unable to grasp it. The technique remains elusive by making itself so readily available. You have only to trust yourself.

So my question is, if they don’t care enough (or trust themselves enough) to create with their own unique, original voice, why not go the whole way? Why not shut out the creative subconscious and the characters completely and construct a story with AI?

Apparently that’s possible now, or almost so. See “AI Writing” at PG also posted a lot of other excerpts from posts about artificial intelligence.

Among those excerpts, he posted “AI won an art contest, and artists are furious.” (See “Of Interest” for the link.) In a personal comment following the article, PG favorably compares using AI to construct stories with using advances in technology (computers) to record stories in fixed form, submit them to publishers or publish them, etc.

As I wrote in response to that comment, that analogy is a category mistake:

“The conscious, critical, rational mind exists to protect us from harm and so we may absorb knowledge. Neither it nor AI ‘create’ anything. Both are capable only of construction.

“Using modern technology (computers, etc.) to set in fixed form and deliver what the human creative subconscious has created is one thing. Sitting back enjoying your favorite beverage while a computer constructs a story or other artwork on which you only slap your name is something else entirely.”

I’ll stand by that, period. Maybe I’m a dinosaur, but when did being proud of one’s own talents and hard-won abilities go out of style?

Seriously, What Gives?

I really, really, really don’t understand. Aside from my argument against allowing the meanings of “creation” and “construction” to become blurred and then synonymous with regard to AI, the same argument applies to the conscious, critical mind vs. the creative subconscious.

The conscious, critical mind can only construct (or destruct). Only the creative subconscious can create. Yet even when would-be and early stage writers manage to create something, they immediately second-guess themselves and even invite outside criticism.

This is mind-boggling to me. It makes absolutely no sense. Why are more writers not standing up for themselves and their own abilities? Why are more writers not at least trying to be confident in themselves?

And to carry it a step further, if you can’t trust yourself and your own creative subconscious, why in the world would you trust anyone else? I mean, how can anyone outside of yourself know the story that’s playing out in your mind better than you do?

Even in my capacity as a professional fiction writing, writing mentor and instructor, I would never presume to alter the content of your story. I can help with how the story is presented and I can tell you when some minor elements are missing or should be rearranged, but content? No way.

But most of all, if witnessing and reporting the story that’s unfolding in your mind isn’t fun and exciting for you—if you have to turn it into “work” by revising and rewriting and editing what your characters give you—why bother?

Ah, don’t worry about it. Depending on how you write, I’m either grouchy today or preaching to the choir. Have a great day.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “What Lucy Taught Me About Writing” at

See “AI won an art contest, and artists are furious” at

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 1000 words

Writing of The Jury (novel, tentative title)

Day 1…… 2488 words. Total words to date…… 2488
Day 2…… 0789 words. Total words to date…… 3277

Total fiction words for September……… 3277
Total fiction words for the year………… 69708
Total nonfiction words for September… 4650
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 132880
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 202588

Calendar Year 2022 Novels to Date…………………… 1
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 67
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

Disclaimer: Along with discussing various aspects of the writing craft, I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. WITD is “the only way” to write, but it is by far the easiest, most liberating, and most fun.

2 thoughts on “Inside No. 9 and AI Writing”

    • Thanks for asking. This is the first I’ve heard of Inara. After only a quick look, I suspect they’re legitimate, or that they are at least trying to be legitimate. I’ll comment further in today’s Journal post.

Comments are closed.