Update: This article was originally based on GPT-3 and ShortlyAI. However, we no longer recommend Shortly. Instead, Chibi AI is the top AI writing tool of choice - primarily due to its superior context control which really helps craft quality long-form content.
This guide is by popular demand. With all the excitement around the new "GPT-3" AI, it’s easy to jump right in and then find out articles aren't just instantly auto-generated and there are some things to learn to get the most out of these tools.
Formerly, the best one was called ShortlyAI (now you should use Chibi), simply keeps getting better and currently stands head and shoulders above the competition in terms of long-form content.
In this guide, I want to show you how to create long-form articles using an AI writing tool. It's essentially a "dance" with your AI partner, but let me show you the moves -- and to understand the dance you must first understand your partner.
What is GPT-3?
I don't want to bore you with all the computer science-y terms, so here's the easy way to understand it. GPT-3 is a unidirectional (one-way) predictive text algorithm with a very large language model (memory) to use. Meaning it's really good at finishing sentences.
This is why I call it a dance with the AI. You write some, the GPT-3 AI predicts what it thinks you wanted to write next -- and writes it for you.
Keep the Narrative Thread Intact
You may have heard a common limitation for AI writing apps to "keep it together." Meaning, it may write one thing at the beginning of a paragraph only to contradict itself a moment later. And that's true, a problem for most GPT-3 based AI writing apps -- but not necessarily for ShortlyAI (and also not a problem for Chibi).
If you write a little, let the AI write a little, and keep taking turns leading in the dance, you'll automatically maintain the narrative thread (assuming you are trying to) and create an article that makes sense to read and flows well between thoughts. Be careful not to become too greedy and push the AI to write significantly more than you.
Although sometimes you'll get lucky, many times it will create content you didn't want, didn't plan for, and will have to edit heavily (or remove altogether). Understanding context is important for maintaining that narrative thread.
Understand Context to Write Sub-Sections
One of the most important things to understand, especially when trying to write long-form content, is context. Context is the words and phrases that get sent to GPT-3 so it can write the next content for you.
Check out this guide for a deeper explanation of context -- but real quick, in ShortlyAI the article brief, title, and content above the current location of the cursor are sent to OpenAI's servers as context when you tap that "write for me" button.
There's a little more voodoo going on behind the scenes, but what you need to know is how to control this context when writing in Shortly.
And that's where Shortly's /// command comes in -- it's called the "context cutoff ruler." As you can imagine, it cuts off the context. But what does that mean?
If you recall, I mentioned the article brief, title and everything above the current location of the cursor is used. But when you start getting into a sub-section within your article that has it's own set of content needs… then the rest of the article could get in the way a bit.
Meaning, the words and phrases in the content above the section you're working on are being sent to the AI too and influencing the results.
To solve that, simply add the /// above the sub-section you're working on. That will prevent Shortly from using anything above it to request content from GPT-3.
Once you learn to control the context you are free to begin dancing with the AI in the sub-section to get the content you want. And when doing that, you can use the article brief to help.
Update the Article Brief as You Write
I'm often asked if changing the article brief has any impact. It does -- A LOT. The article brief is where you're asking the AI to produce what you want. And it's important to understand you can change it as you're working your way through the article.
Perhaps in one section the article brief should be written a certain way, and then later in a sub-section the article brief should be another.
Anytime you hit the "write for me" button, ShortlyAI is using the article brief to help create content for you. When you begin running into an issue where the paragraph of text just isn't want you want -- change up the article brief to be more specific for your needs.
There's also something else about Shortly that will help you write faster too -- (slash) commands.
Use /Commands to Empower Your Writing
These are specialized commands that give you extra capabilities when writing. There are "refine" commands: shorten, rewrite, and expand. And then there are "long-form" commands: brainstorm and outline.
The Refine Commands
With the refine commands you'll be able to tweak and improve your sentences using AI assistance (I go into more detail on these commands here). They do exactly what they sound like: shorten, rewrite, and expand. Shorten will try to make a sentence more concise. Rewrite will try to change up the wording.
Expand is the real masterpiece here -- in terms of writing long-form content quickly. Use expand to add more "meat" to your article. Maybe to explain a certain topic within the content of your article -- or just to add something extra to existing text.
The Long-Form Commands
I go more in-depth on the long-form commands here. Suffice it to say, these two commands give you some real nice capabilities.
Brainstorm will help you think through your topic more thoroughly to come up with new content ideas, or just understand a wider scope to your topic. It's a fantastic tool to help you work through adding content to your article.
Outline does exactly what it sounds like. It gives you some ideas of how you might outline your article -- are even a sub-section within your article. Very useful to lay out the structure of your article before you begin writing (or even to lay out more of the structure while writing).
/Commands are Very Flexible
When you first learn these commands they all seem to have their place. Shorten will shorten, expand will expand. Brainstorm gives you ideas, outline outlines. But you can get really creative to produce workflows that fit your needs.
For instance, you might brainstorm ideas then outline them. Then outline the outline to create a deep structure. Then expand on the outline to create content before you begin the dance with the AI assistant.
Or you could brainstorm an outline section and then outline the brainstorm. My point is, you can mix and match these commands any way you want to produce what you want, faster. Just don't forget the dance.
Remember the Dance
You've heard me say dance quite a lot -- and it's for good reason. Too many tools out there make you believe GPT-3 is some sort of magic product that will produce your article instantly with no work from you. It's not. It's more like a good assistant. You can think of it like a dance partner, or you can think of it like you're the boss.
But you need to be a good boss. Provide Shortly with good, high-quality, topic-rich article briefs and sentence leads and the AI will produce amazing results for you. Often writing what you expected -- and sometimes a nice bonus surprise you can use.
Just go with the flow. You write, the AI writes. Use context to your advantage and the /commands when you need more power. At first you may feel a bit awkward, but as you get better with leading the AI the results are fantastic.
You'll find yourself working faster than ever and even adding angles to your writing you didn't plan for -- as the AI gives you unexpected, but good, content.
Keep the narrative thread throughout your article, don't let the AI lead you astray too much. Write for a human, later optimize for Google -- and follow the perfect article checklist. You'll create something stunning.