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Why I Required Students to Use ChatGPT in My Literature Class
Or how to use ChatGPT for style guides
Or how to use ChatGPT for style guides
I don’t teach literature … I’m just sneaking professional writing into an “Adventures in Literature” class.
Of course, students are learning some literary principles and what makes good storytelling, but they are also learning how to use AI in ethical and creative ways.
That said, we’ve had a lot of fun, telling many stories … few of which have anything to do with professional writing. As the semester ends, I would like to use storytelling as a way into professional writing … a consistently underrated and misunderstood topic.
As I work with students to develop a text-based game on Twine, I realized that this is a great way to introduce them to style guides.
We decided as a class to work on one big IF story together, rather than individually or in groups. We have little time and this allows us to write an extensive game, instead of something small. This is a 100 level class, so having students write their own is a bit much.
This poses a problem … lack of uniformity. If out of control, the story will look like 20 different people wrote it!
ChatGPT as a Style Guide
One great solution is to create a style guide and incorporate it into a prompt. Students can then submit their written scenes to ChatGPT and have it rewrite the text for them.
Rewrite this passage in the style of Hemingway. Keep under 200 words and keep the paragraphs between 1–3 sentences.
Of course, they will still need to do some editing, but it is a quick way to get everyone’s scene to read somewhat similar.
This also gives us an opportunity to teach the importance of style guides, which are an essential professional writing tool. We can talk about when, why and how to use a style guide, what all the different bits mean, and how to actually implement them into writing.
For example, I also ask them to write the choices in the same way at the end of the scenes. You could include this in the prompt, but ChatGPT isn’t very good at following these instructions.
Include 2–3 numbered choices, unless you are ending the story. Use the following format:What do you do?
1. [Verb] + [predicate]
2. Close the door.
3. Speak to the nuns.
Using ChatGPT as a stylistic guide can help teams create unified stories with ease, making the editing process much less daunting. It also ensures that all writers are following the same style guide and adhering to the same standards when creating their stories, making sure no one’s work stands out among the others.
Introducing CSS Style Sheets
If I am honest, I really do not know how to create a Twine story … I’m learning as I go. To me, this is the best part of being a professor. I can teach and learn at the same time.
I knew that Twine requires some small amounts of code, especially if you want to do some fancier things, but I didn’t realize it uses CSS style sheets, a critical tool in many areas of professional writing.
You can imagine that changing the formatting of text manually across a hundred story cards would be daunting. CSS allows writers to change all the text with a single snippet of code.
For those of you who may not know, CSS style sheets are used to control the formatting and layout of web pages or other digital content management systems. They allow writers to change the appearance of text, images, and other elements on a page without having to change the HTML code itself or manually format each bit of text.
As I delved deeper into Twine, I realized that teaching my students how to use CSS style sheets would be incredibly helpful. It would allow them to make their stories more visually appealing and also give them a better understanding of how web design works.
So, I incorporated a lesson on CSS style sheets into the class. We started with the basics, learning how to change the font, color, and size of text, and this week they are learning how to incorporate images and text.
Really, if there is one thing students learn from this class, using a style guide could be one of the most important … even if no one likes to talk about them.
Using ChatGPT as a style guide and introducing CSS style sheets are valuable tools for creating a cohesive and visually appealing Twine story.
By incorporating these tools into the class, students can develop an understanding of what it takes to create high-quality digital content and prepare themselves for future careers in any industry that requires strong writing skills.
I’m beginning a publication focused on sharing practical ways to use AI creatively in all professions. I’m still building it, but if you like this kind of thing, check it out (and let me know if you want to write for it).