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How to Write With an Artificial Intelligence

Creative Writing 1010101

Basic controls
  • Press Tab to ask the neural network for 3 suggestions to continue what you have written so far.
  • Keep pressing Tab as many times as you like to repeatedly request three more suggestions.
  • Use the arrow keys and enter or click to select one of the suggestions.

Writing methods

Here’s a list of just a few approaches you can take to using Write With Transformer.

1. Blind devotion

To remove yourself from the equation and see what the neural net might generate “on its own”, you can decide from the start that you’ll always take the first suggestion. If you start from a blank page, the first few words can be disorienting, like falling asleep and waking up in a random corner of the internet…

2. Branching path

Limit yourself to the three options supplied by the app, letting it tell you a choose-your-own-adventure tale about whatever the internet had on its mind when the training data was collected…

3. Tag team

Prompt the machine with a thought, then let its response prompt you. Go back and forth as cowriters, or warring Wikipedia editors…

4. Rewrites

Bring in familiar text from somewhere else, delete the end of it and see how Transformer would have completed it…

Note: I got curious about the second option, which seems to be the start of a full-scale FAQ about chickens. So I opened the app again and kept going. You can read the FAQ here.

5. Continuing lists

Transformers are great at picking up patterns in series of items. This makes it especially fun to prompt them with incomplete lists.

6. Freeform

The repetitive structure of lists lends itself to transformer writing. The same applies to any kind of writing with a recognizable, consistent structure. Try interviews, step-by-step instructions, or invent your own new format and see what patterns the neural net picks up.

Advanced settings

You can adjust four settings in the bottom left corner of the app, controlling Model size, Top-p, Temperature and Max time.

Model size

Larger models have more parameters, which roughly means they can remember patterns from their training set in greater detail. This means larger models offer suggestions that are more specifically related to the prompt.


The most poetically named parameter, temperature controls how adventurous the algorithm is with its word choices. Turning the temperature up makes suggestions wilder and less predictable.


This setting controls how broad a range of continuations are considered. Set it high to consider all continuations. Set it low to just consider likely continuations. The overall effect is similar to temperature, but more subtle.

Max time

This controls how long the suggestions are. The model will always generate as many words as it has time for. To ask for just a few words, set the maximum time to low. For longer suggestion blocks, choose a small model size and a high maximum time.

Sharing your writing

Write With Transformer has two built-in sharing mechanisms.

  1. Screenshot



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Jamie Brew

writer/computer @botnikstudios + @huggingface, formerly @clickhole + @theonion