How to Create Insanely Complex Characters Using “Shadow Theory”

Complex characters are the beating heart of good fiction. The simplest and most effective ways to engineer this complexity is to create contrast, and one of the most intuitive tools a writer can use for identifying which contrasting elements are organic to any given character or story situation is… shadow theory.

The “shadow” is a term coined by C.J. Jung to describe aspects of the personality that remain in the dark of the unconscious. These are aspects of the self that are repressed or perhaps even denied. They are aspects we often do not even recognize as part of our personalities. They may be aspects we think of as “bad” (such as anger), but may also be things we might generally consider to be “good” (such as power).

We start putting aspects of ourselves into the shadow when we are very young. As we instinctively decide—and are molded to choose by the world around us—which traits are valuable for our survival and success, we begin both to shape our conscious personalities and our correspondingly unconscious shadows. For example, we may learn early on that a quick temper doesn’t get us what we want in social situations, in which case our personality is molded around diplomacy while our rage goes into the shadow. However, we may also shape ourselves around less functional ideas. For example, if someone discovers their beauty attracts the wrong kind of attention, the personality may take on traits focused on blending in, while the person’s confidence in their attractiveness goes into the shadow. Emotions of all sorts, if we feel shame or fear of expressing them, often end up in the shadow.

Very often, we identify with our conscious personalities to the point that we believe this is all we are. As a result, we tend to experience our shadows rather like young children playing peekaboo. The children cover their eyes and giggle while the adults dutifully gasp, “Where did you go?!” The children believe that what they can’t see is, in fact, invisible. The shadow can sometimes feel like that. We can’t see it, so it must not be there. And yet, everything we stuff into our shadows is still a part of us. Often, it comes bursting out when we least expect, creating behaviors that “just aren’t like us.” Sometimes we might even say, “That’s not me.”

Shadow work is a deep practice designed to reacquaint us with these lost parts of ourselves and to reintegrate their hidden gifts and power.  (The Enneagram is a great tool for helping with this work.) Even seemingly negative traits such as anger, when banished to the shadow, take with them some of our innate power. Just as importantly, when we consciously reclaim these parts of ourselves, we bring them back into the light of our awareness where we can choose when and how to implement them in our lives, instead of being governed by them as unconscious impulses.

What Is Shadow Theory?

So how can this help you write complex characters? Simply in understanding the shadow as a psychological concept, you can use it to bring depth to your characters’ inner journeys. There’s a little trick I like to use that makes it quite simple to figure out exactly what is in the shadow—your characters’ or anyone else’s.

I call this trick shadow theory, and it’s simply this: whatever is visible in a person’s external personality is an indication that the exact opposite resides in the shadow.

For instance, let’s examine two potential characters. Let’s say one is obviously stoic, tough-as-nails, and acerbic. Shadow theory says that what this person is holding back in the unconscious is therefore emotion, fear, and tenderness. Another character may be obviously cheerful, self-sacrificing, and needy, indicating that what the person does not want to acknowledge in the shadow is sadness, selfishness, and independence.

In these instances, you can see right away why people usually want to identify with their conscious personalities and disassociate from the seemingly “negative” shadow that corresponds. However, apart from the fact that these “negative” shadow qualities are still there, no matter how repressed, it’s important to recognize they have also taken with them half the power and effectiveness of the idealized traits showcased in the external personality.

Creating Character Arcs

Creating Character Arcs (Amazon affiliate link)

Because character arcs are usually explorations of how people may reclaim parts of themselves to become more whole, exploring the shadow is fertile ground for any story. You can leverage the polarity of any conscious personality trait and its unconscious shadow trait to create instant and deeply organic inner conflict for your characters.

The more characters identify with a conscious personality trait, the more the corresponding shadow looms large. It’s a simple fact: the bigger something is, the bigger the shadow it casts. In fact, the more “possessed” a character’s ego becomes by a personality trait, the more obviously the shadow will become the motivating factor—to the point that everyone around the character may recognize the shadow trait even if the character insistently denies it, as when a person screams, “I AM NOT ANGRY!”

I am reminded of Spencer Tracy’s line from Bad Day at Black Rock:

You’re not only wrong. You’re wrong at the top of your voice.

When that happens, that’s the shadow talking.

The Shadow Holds Good Stuff Too

Thanks to its name, the shadow is often correlated with negative traits. However, it bears repeating that the shadow is not an inherently negative aspect of the psyche. So much good stuff resides in the shadow—not just dangerous qualities that need to be rehabilitated, but also potentially such traits as self-esteem, empowerment, strength, gentleness, curiosity, vitality, even joy. Anything that felt unsafe to us early in our lives when our personalities were forming may have been banished, in part or in whole, to the shadow.

However, even the obviously good bits in the shadow can get cranky after being left in the dark for years, even decades. Learning to reintegrate all lost pieces of ourselves in a way that is safe for our own expression and respectful of others is a deeply rewarding journey, but one that often moves us into the cautionary spaces of our inner maps where “here be dragons.”

6 Questions to Help You Discover Your Character’s Shadows

Hopefully, you can already see the immediate applicability of shadow theory in sussing out your characters’ secrets, wounds, and potential growth arcs. To help you get started, here are six questions you can ask about your characters to hone in on their shadows. Remember: in asking about an obvious externalized trait, you will always find the hidden shadow trait in its polar opposite.

1. What Is Your Character’s Greatest Strength?

Functional personalities are built around a person’s strengths. This means you can look to your character’s corresponding weaknesses to discover what’s in the shadow.

For example, if a character identifies primarily as smart, athletic, helpful, funny, or dependable, then corresponding shadow weaknesses to explore would include fears or denials of the parts of the character that are ignorant, clumsy, dispensable, awkward, or selfish.

Pride and Prejudice 2005 Elizabeth and Darcy Pemberley

In Pride & Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet identifies strongly with her own intelligence and keen perception—only to be blindsided by revelations of her mistaken presumptions about Mr. Darcy, as well as her hypocritical prejudice against him. (Pride & Prejudice (2005), Focus Features.)

2. What Is Your Character’s Greatest Weakness?

Although we usually try to identify with our strengths, almost everyone is also hyper-conscious of several aspects of ourselves we consider to be weaknesses. However, these weaknesses can often shine a light on corresponding strengths we’ve banished to the shadow, usually out of fear of fully showing up in some way.

For example, a character who identifies with the weaknesses mentioned above—feeling unintelligent, clumsy, unneeded or easily overlooked, socially awkward, or selfish—might be hiding in their shadow their corresponding talents and capabilities.

In Nope, OJ’s social awkwardness makes him terrible at running his family’s business of supplying stunt horses to movie producers, but it hides the shadow strength of a deep intuitiveness and attention to the natural world—which becomes a superpower when pitted against a monster from space. (Nope (2022), Universal Pictures.)

3. What Is Your Character’s Strongest Conviction?

What’s the one thing your character could go off on a rant about at a moment’s notice? Particularly take note of any topic about which the character will brook no argument. To the degree a character is open-minded or willing to consider another viewpoint, their convictions are likely not pointing to corresponding shadows. But if the character refuses to entertain the opposite view, this may point to a corresponding shadow within the character.

Sometimes this contrast can be utterly hypocritical (e.g., a minister preaching the 7th Commandment who keeps a secret mistress), but it may also be driven by a semi-conscious sense of shame or guilt (e.g., a veteran doing humanitarian work to “pay for” the lives he’s taken in war).

St. John Rivers, in Jane Eyre, is a passionately devoted missionary who wishes to spread God’s love—and yet he refuses to acknowledge his own capacity for love, instead proposing a loveless marriage to his cousin Jane to avoid any distractions from his holy mission. (Jane Eyre (2011), Focus Features. )

4. What Is Your Character’s Biggest Fear?

The biggest bogey-man in anyone’s life is almost always the one who lives in that person’s own shadow. When we learn to face and conquer the shadow monsters, what we fear in the real world often turns out to be less capable of hurting us than we always thought. Often, this because what we thought was the monster in the shadows was, in fact, the very lost piece of ourselves we needed to face the outer antagonist. (Talk about the perfect opportunity to unite a story’s inner and outer conflict!)

Although you can, of course, go specific with this one (e.g., a character who fears commitment may, in fact, find a shadow capacity for tremendous loyalty), any fear will always indicate that what is in the shadow is personal empowerment. If a character is afraid, it is because they have put a piece of their own power into the shadow—and must reclaim it in order to face the fear.

In Secondhand Lions, untrusting Walter, who’s greatest fear is being abandoned by those who profess to love him, finds within himself the courage and loyalty to be the one to refuse to betray and abandon his great-uncles. (Secondhand Lions (2003), New Line Cinema.)

5. Who or What Is Your Character Most Likely to Vilify?

Who does your character hate? Who are they most likely to blame for everything wrong in the world? Although this hated person may be a specific person within the story, also consider the generalities this person may represent. What stereotype is your character hating in the other person? Very often a shadow of this same vilified trait will exist within your protagonist. This is the essence of the advice to “make your antagonist a mirror of your protagonist” in some way.

For example, if your antagonist is a school bully, your cowardly protagonist may discover in herself a latent desire to exert power over others. Indeed, all the archetypal shadow pairs I talk about in my book Writing Archetypal Character Arcs—including Coward and Bully as the shadows of the Hero—always indicate this latent tendency  of within one another. Therefore, the character who identifies as a bully may also, in fact, be hiding his own terrifying cowardice in his shadow.

In Schindler’s List, Oskar fights against the genocidal Nazis, and yet he himself is a businessman who starts out caring only about what functionality and profit he can grind out of his workers. (Schindler’s List (1993), Universal Pictures.)

6. Who or What Is Your Character Most Likely to Revere?

Finally, flip the last question and examine who your character idolizes. Who does your character most want to be? Although your characters might not have the capacity to immediately fill their heroes’ shoes, they are likely already projecting many of their own strengths and good qualities out of their shadow and onto this person. Alternatively, they may realize the specific status symbols they admire about this person are representative of positive traits they already have access to within themselves—just in a different way.

For example, a character who longs to be beautiful and idealizes the school’s popularity queen may be either devaluing her own unique beauty or may realize the traits she truly values as beautiful are already latent within her.

In Ms. Marvel, Kamela Khan eats, sleeps, and breathes her idol Captain Marvel, until she follows her own growth arc to claim her own unique heritage of heroism and power. (Ms. Marvel (2022), Marvel Studios.)

***

Shadow work is important for writers; inevitably, this is the work we do upon our own characters in every story we write. Using the quick trick of “shadow theory” to identify the polarities within your characters and bring out the dramatic potential of these powerful contrasts is an incredible tool for deepening your characterizations.

Stay Tuned: Next week, we talk about “5 Ways to Use Your Character’s Shadows to Power Your Story.”

Wordplayers, tell me your opinions! What shadows are you exploring in your own complex characters? Tell me in the comments!

Click the “Play” button to Listen to Audio Version (or subscribe to the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast in Apple Podcast or Amazon Music).

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

Comments

  1. Tapping into some ancient wisdom with this one. As co-translator of “Inanna’s Descent,” Samuel Noah Kramer made an observation about an incident in a story of Inanna’s youth. She wanted to make a throne for herself, so she planted a huluppu tree, then ignored it.
    A decade later, she comes back and is distressed to discover three creatures are living in the tree: a snake, the Eastern symbol of renewal and sexuality; an anzu-bird, who craved power and knowledge; and Lilith, the rebellious woman spoken of in the midrash.
    Kramer says the trio of beings are symbolic of Inanna’s unexpressed fears and desires, which have now been ‘named,’ And the deal about the “naming” is that in ancient beliefs, to name a thing is to bring it into fruition, and make it possible to know and understand what it is. The discovery of the snake, bird, and Lilith helps Inanna to grasp her own weakness and darker aspects.
    It’s fun to make a character face their shadow self. I have a character who is forced to realize that while she has physical courage to face down mortal threats, she is cowardly in matters of the heart. She won’t risk being hurt or rejected, but during her Dark Night of the Soul she is forced to confront the consequences of her cowardice.
    In the martial arts movies from my childhood, it seemed a character always had to face an inner flaw or come to a spiritual insight before being able to master an external problem. For writing a series, the element of having an inner problem that impacts an external problem (or vice versa) is key, I think.

  2. As a therapist I am constantly fascinated by the overlap between story and psychology. And I am not the only one. The Allender Center in Seattle, WA, helps people engage their personal story so that they can find healing for the trauma they have endured (see https://theallendercenter.org/). They have also written a book recently called “Redeeming Heartache” which takes a Jungian approach to how trauma affects us in shadow ways and can be healed, even down to the spiritual level. The first line of their book really stuck with me and was a harbinger of good things to come. It said: “Life is a constant search for what we lost in Eden.” What a succinct, yet profound, way of describing the shadow self and how it functions!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      As a writer, I’m fascinated too. 😉 In fact, the correlation has increasingly become one of my most passionate interests. I have seen both how an understanding of psychology has helped me write better stories, but most particularly how an understanding of story has better helped me understand my own psychological journeys.

  3. Thanks for the post. This is a new one to me. Will have to think about it more.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yay. Glad it was food for thought. My own personal shadow work has become one of the most rewarding efforts of my entire life. I recommend it to all.

  4. Quite a powerful tool. I’ve always liked the idea that “A weakness is a strength used at the wrong time,” and at least half of that may be the other beliefs and emotions that *would* have been better if the person hadn’t written them off as inferior to that “strength.” It’s that contrast that makes it too easy for us all to pick one approach as unsafe and keep it in the shadow, and constantly lean into the same alternative instead.

    Shadow theory sounds too simple to be real — the key to a thing is right there in its opposite? But, it’s only human to make simple decisions like that (“loyalty instead of self,” “survival instead of sacrifice”) in deciding who we are. If it seems too simple, ask: just how much *am* I shunning, over there in the direct shadow of what I’m trying to be? How many kinds of strength are we ignoring, and why are we so sure they’re dangerous?

    Yeah. There’s *that* much energy we tie up in avoiding those.

    So what have our characters been doing?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes, and of course if we apply shadow theory to the idea of the theory itself being too simplistic, what we find in the shadow is complexity. 😉 Much of the complexity arises because we don’t necessarily put *all* of a particular trait into the shadow. Indeed, the distinctions we use to verbalize certain traits (happy, anxious, etc.) are simplistic references to experiences that are much vaster and more liminal than our pat definitions. For instance, all of us are often happy about some things and sad about others–so the shadows are corresponding in their shades of gray as well.

  5. Eric Troyer says

    I bristled a bit when I first read this: “whatever is visible in a person’s external personality is an indication that the exact opposite resides in the shadow.”

    To be complex characters, I would argue that not everything that is visible in an external personality is an indication of the exact opposite in shadow. Some traits are, some aren’t. But then you seemed to express that as you laid out your arguments. Especially in #3: “To the degree a character is open-minded or willing to consider another viewpoint, their convictions are likely not pointing to corresponding shadows.”

    I think some of the most interesting characters are those whom the reader is not sure why they have such strong convictions. Is it due to a shadow viewpoint or is it something else?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      The theory *is* simple, but of course what it is pointing to is the vast complexity of human nature. Like any tool, it must be used responsibly. It won’t offer us magic eight ball solutions for what’s in the shadow. For one thing, we must be able to accurately identify what is actually showing up in the conscious personality–which isn’t always easy, thanks in no small part to our shadow projections and introjections. I find that the sheer simplicity of shadow theory as a binary tool offers the potential shortcut to sorting through some of the haze. But when applying it in real life, it’s important to realize its answers are not definitive and are always based on the accuracy of our own ability to perceive and identify what is showing up in the conscious, as well as our willingness to be honest with ourselves about what we find.

  6. It’s funny because I got really into storytelling & psychology (especially personality psychology) around the same time that I discovered your blog one year ago. And since then you’ve made so many posts on the topic, what a nice coincidence

  7. Coco Jay says

    What a great post and fantastic set of useful questions! I am finding all these so helpful with all my current WIPs. Thank you!

  8. Gaston Alvarado says

    Hi! I loved the post. I heard this morning as I was driving, and probably the parts that resonated the most with me were two. First, I guess we live in a dual world for the most part, so the concept of developing our characters using this feature was totally enlightening to me. Second, I am writing my first mystery novel, and my character is living in this situation.
    She is fighting the effects of schizophrenia with a very positive attitude, chasing her dreams, and trying to find love, and at the same time, the internal suffering of dealing with the symptoms of the devastating disease, has changed her, and brought out her dark side.
    It made me feel more confident to learn that somehow, I have been doing this with my character without having heard about your theory. Thanks!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Sounds like you’re right on track. The best characters are always those that bridge this divide between the outer world and the inner.

      • Gaston Alvarado says

        Thanks. How many shadows a character can have? Is there a rule of thumb or something that can help me tell if there are too many?

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

          Generally, we refer to the shadow, singular, as a collective. Therefore, every person has one shadow, just as they have (normally) one personality. However, every shadow offers just as many facets as does every personality. That said, within fiction, it’s often best to focus most of the explicit attention on one main split and any supporting aspects.

  9. I’m fascinated by this topic. And it’s well-timed! My character needs to go into his shadow in order to succeed. I am wondering, regarding point number five, how that works with a character who doesn’t actively hate or blame anyone, if they’re generally kind or polite, have they placed all their anger in the shadow? Probably as a way to avoid confrontation? Thank you for diving into this topic. I’m looking forward to the next installment!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes, obviously there is much nuance to this, but a character who is not in touch with their anger is likely to have relegated it to the shadow. Even if it never bursts out in an obviously angry way, it can manifest in other ways that affect the character’s well-being, such as physical tension or even illness. Passive-aggression is another obvious shadow tell. However, there’s a tremendous difference between a person who has suppressed their anger to the shadow and one who has mastered their anger. In the latter case, the person has looked into the shadow, faced their anger, and done the work to integrate it into their conscious acceptance and control. Both people might appear “not-angry” on the surface, but the reasons for why are different.

  10. In the novel I’m working on now, the protagonist has always had a highly structured life in which outside forces told him what he should do, what goals are worth attaining, and the steps he can take towards those goals. He’s so immersed in that way of thinking that, at the point I’m at, he hasn’t figured out that’s all gone (he’s going to have his Awful Realization at the midpoint). So what kind of shadow does that mindset have? Perhaps his shadow is making his own goals, maybe also some sloth (to balance out his constant grinding for advancement).

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      There’s a lot there to work through in a situation like that, but I’d sum it up as his having put his autonomy in the shadow. He surrendered his ability to think and feel for himself, stuffing it away into the shadow.

      • I would also add that your character has a shadow ability to be extremely confidant and not to be swayed by what other people think about them. I know this because I struggled very much with trying to fit into the box–telling myself I should be like this and I should be able to do what everyone else is doing–to growing into my confidence to be myself and live life outside of the box

  11. The Enneagram is also so helpful when it comes to understanding shadows. Not only does the Enneagram highlight the opposite poles of strength and weakness (example–> a type 4 is the most dramatic and emotional but also has potential to be the most uplifting and inspirational) but it takes into account the other shadows with the wings and point of integration/disintegration (example: the type 4 is the most inner oriented but on the shadow side it shows an ability to accomplish externally–the power of the 3 wing, and the weakness of being swept away by deep feelings has a shadow of cold logic–the power of the 5 wing. The 4’s ability to understand, identify with and meld with another human being is offset by the point of integration–the 1’s ability to establish clear boundaries, and the 4’s superpower to be a receiver goes downhill when they give into their point of disintegration–the 2’s pleaser voice)

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Absolutely. I’m going to mention that briefly in next week’s post, but basically if you get into the “work” of the Enneagram, it’s *all* shadow work. It’s this realization that the “me” we identify with (the personality) is really a “not me” that is simply mirroring all the unintegrated traits we’ve repressed in the shadow.

  12. A profound and tremendously helpful article ma’am. Having completed and published my first book, G Strings & Gangsters, your article has set me thinking about the structure of characterisation for the follow up books Queen of Clubs and Winner Takes All. In G Strings, Valentina is the main protagonist, who starts off as a highly paid exotic dancer in the City of London, whose club is overrun by gangsters who bring menace and danger to her life. Torn between the hero cop charged with smashing the gang and the highly cultured kingpin boss of the gang, her life becomes a dichotomy of the lawful and lawless. In book tow, Queen of Clubs, she becomes a club owner, facing ever more danger and complexity in her love life. Your article has spelled out for me that I need to bring out this dichotomy more through her thoughts and actions, taking her from the seemingly powerless dancer to the streetwise powerful character she was meant to become. Your article has revealed a new stronger course for my heroine. Thank you so much!

  13. Great article. It strikes me that this is just as important to do for your antagonist as for your MC (assuming you have one). This can give you a big hint about why they fall. To note an example, JRRT does this with Sauron, whose fall is ultimately the result of the pride that was the motivating force behind his power, or at least that’s how I read him.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Absolutely. Antagonist shadows can be some of the most interesting to explore *and* the most helpful for writers in better understanding their motivations.

  14. Thank you so much, this is incredibly helpful! My character’s arc goes from passive to active and the better I understand her, the more authentic it feels. She and I also have, let’s say, some things in common so doing this work for her has some real personal applications as well!

  15. Another excellent and informative post.
    I was intrigued by the idea of “Shadow Theory”, because making our characters as deep and complex as possible is every writer’s goal. I always fear I haven’t done enough, but as I read and thought about the “shadow” aspect of a character, I realized that I was hinting at this with some of my characters already.
    When I jot down the basic personality traits, I find the first few are the main ones, what they project. The secondary ones could actually be the “shadow” parts of who they are, because they are usually opposing traits.
    When I realized that, it gave me some hope that I was already doing this, albeit in a less detailed or specific way. But with this new insight, I’ll definitely know how to develop these shadow traits, and how they will affect the character.
    Thanks again for your wisdom.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes, most writers are already instinctively utilizing some form of shadow theory on their characters if they’re concentrating on truly developing them. Glad the post was useful!

  16. I suppose mentioning superheroes is too on the nose? The Hulk is the obvious choice (although a story focusing on why he hates “puny” Banner would be interesting). Why doesn’t the Punisher deal with the trauma of war and losing his family? What if he became well-adjusted? Why does Bruce Wayne fixate on his parents’ death instead of trying to move forward with his life? Conversely, what qualities are Captain America or Superman suppressing or ignoring? What would their breaking point be?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Although the genre has evolved much in recent decades, superheroes are fundamentally archetypal. Historically, most of them kept secret alter-egos, which, by their very nature, are of representative of the shadow.

  17. This touches on two areas I’ve used in writing workshops over the years: the Johari Window and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. I love this explanation of the shadow in character development. Thank you!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Ah, the Johari Window. I haven’t thought about that in years. Thanks for mentioning it! I shall have to revisit it.

  18. That is an I sanely good article. I jumped to it from a link on a news page (that, of course, gives me articles I like). I’m reading it and I’m thinking, ‘this must be K. M…” 🤔
    Brilliant and so helpful.

  19. I love that you did a post on this, Katie! As both a shadow work coach & a writer, I’ll add: another GREAT hack for getting to the root of your shadow self is to look at triggers.

    If you (or a character) get pissed off at lover for abandoning you, for example, you can yourself: “how am I abandoning MYSELF?”

    You wouldn’t be experiencing it externally if it didn’t exist somewhere INTERNALLY.

    I do this work all the time with myself & with clients… but this is the first time I’d thought to apply it to my characters! Thanks so much for the reminder & the kickass post. ☯️

  20. Another helpful post as I dive deep into outlining and character-building today. Thank, Katie!

  21. Very into it. Thank you. Definitely getting in on that podcast.

  22. This was a very interesting article and I found it at just the right time. I’m starting the second draft of my first novel and character development is my primary focus. Thanks for this!

  23. Jennifer K says

    Your latest two posts on Shadow Theory have helped me make the biggest breakthrough in figuring out my characters in years. Thank you!

  24. Piero Mattirolo says

    Thanks Katie for this post. I am not sure if you already covered the topic of AI in writing. When all the dust will settle, I think we will accept AI just as another tool, such as e-bikes or PCs, once we got familiar with them. Being curious, I have been using several AI models, rather as a kind of brainstorming tool or junior assistant. In my humble opinion, at this moment, I think AI is most helpful in troubleshooting, i.e. in analysing your prose, summarizing the plot, writing a one page presentation of your story, etc. You can’t rely on AI to create anything more than run-of-the-mill prose or stories. However I have been experimenting with Sudowrite, which is a piece of software designed for writers. It is a very powerful and you can hone it to your ends. The newest and most powerful feature is Plugins. These are specific prompts that anyone can create, asking the AI model of your choice to do specific tasks. As a matter of fact, I personally wrote a plugin based on this post of yours. This plugin asks Sudowrite to identify a character of your choice, either listed in the character description you provided or coming up in the synopsis or in the chapter one is working on. Using this information, Sudowrite will first guess this character’s Enneagram and wing, then try to answer the six questions you mentioned above in this post.

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