How much of what you are reading and absorbing hasn’t been written by a person? Content can now be created by artificial intelligence. Everything from novels to political speeches, blogs and journal articles, advertising to social media posts, memes, and business reports is being created by A I programs. (How do you think those politicians get identical tweets which sometimes make no sense?)
Perhaps people are coming to like the AI style of repeated words and phrases and short sentences. But writing to create a human connection and stimulate the brain requires more work.
Expressions not meant to be taken literally–figures of speech –add illumination to the written and spoken word. They bring a mind picture by connecting familiar things in an unfamiliar way. Reading a good book is metal gymnastics. Reading and writing from an early age is linked to higher income and better cognitive function and a reduced chance of mental decline during aging.. Good reading material provides these connections. Humans, especially English speakers, use figures of speech to connect the seemingly unconnected and use these to connect with each other.
My students used to recite Taylor Swift lyrics to me and now it seems she is a modern example of someone who is gushing with figurative language.
For those of you seeking a lesson, examples of figures of speech include:
Metonymy—one thing is represented by another thing associated with it ex) the crowns of the Realm
Synecdoche-a part stands for a whole ex) all hands on deck
Personification-bestows human characteristics on something non-human ex) snow waved its white flag over everything (Billy Collins)
Metaphor—a comparison ex) my love is a rose
Simile-comparison using word “like: ex) my love is like a rose
Metaphor and simile bring intensity to the imagery because the reader is asked to equate two things. They challenge the mind and provide satisfaction when the connection is made.
Hyperbole-extreme exaggeration ex-I was quaking from head to foot and could have hung my hat on my eyes, they stuck out so far. (Mark Twain)
Oxymoron two contradictory words joined-jumbo shrimp
Pun exploits to meanings to a word ex—tomorrow, you will find me a grave man
One difference between a writer and an author is that an author is expected to have a unique and personal voice.
“Finding your own voice as a writer is in some ways like the tricky business of becoming an adult…you try on other people’s personalities for size and you fall in love” A. Alvarez
Voice is diction. Vocabulary (words chosen) and syntax (the order in which they are used) help define you as a writer.
Rich vocabulary illuminates while a limited one conceals. In fact, AI has a distinctly limited vocabulary with repeated words.
Run your writing through a word cloud program. Do you see a wide variety of words? Favorite words?
Another thing to do to be as expressive as Taylor Swift is to watch out for cliches and idioms.
A cliché is a word, phrase or figure of speech that is overly familiar or predictable. An Idiom is a cliché so familiar it is part of the language ex) nose to the grindstone, runs for office
Ex) eyes like pools, dark as night
Instead: Try to create figures of speech that both surprise and illuminate. Pull out a kaleidoscope of heartbeats (TS).
Reading a good book is mental gymnastics. Reading and writing from an early age is linked to higher income and better cognitive function and a reduced chance of mental decline during aging. Figures of speech help with these gymnastics.
By the way, an AI title generator suggested the two titles for this blog
What’s in your reading, and writing, isn’t written by humans?
What you’re reading, writing, and broadcasting – it’s all artificial intelligence
One advantage of AI is that it is supposed to generate more searchable headlines and more engagement. What do you think?