As a writer, you're looking for any way to gain an edge; ways you can become more efficient. Then you hear of these AI writing tools like ShortlyAI and your heart skips a beat as you imagine how fast you'll be cranking out your articles.
Then when you jump in and try it, you're a bit disappointed because it's not as advanced as you thought. It's not that great at writing. But maybe that disappointment is misplaced?
I've found it to be a surprisingly effective tool by simply understanding the best way to ask it for help — aka "the context."
If you have used Shortly before you know it's amazing because it is a blank canvas, the UI gets out of the way (no forms to jump through), the AI is just a click away, and you can run unlimited generations (no burning through credits!).
Author's note: If you haven't tried ShortlyAI yet you're missing out. If you want writing superpowers you need it now. Click here to check out their page — and if you decide to purchase, I'll earn a small commission at no extra charge to you. It helps me continue crafting these helpful guides for you. ❤️+✌️
But while that makes it ultra-powerful, it also means it doesn't have any training wheels. You need some skills to get the most out of it (but once you have those skills you can fly).
Here's How Context Works in ShortlyAI
When you click that magical "write for me" button in Shortly, what happens behind the scenes to get the text you ordered? It's actually quite simple, but vitally important for you to understand.
The article brief, title, and all the content in your article from the point where your cursor is upward will be sent to GPT-3 for processing (GPT-3 calls this "the prompt").
There is a limit on how much Shortly will take from your article though. The article brief and title will always be sent, but if your article is really long and your cursor is toward the bottom, it will take something like 1,200 to 1,500-ish words.
There are some changes coming in the next version of Shortly that will give you some fantastic tools to control context. Stay tuned for that.
The Context Cutoff Ruler
A new feature recently added to ShortlyAI is the ability to cut off the context at a point you want. To do it you simply type /// in the place you want Shortly to stop using the content above the current cursor location.
This might not sound like much but is a very important feature you should master in order to best instruct the AI as you write your article. Use it when you want to prevent context above a certain line in your article from "contaminating" the place where you want specific content produced.
For instance, if you're starting a new section in your article where the content is slightly different from the rest of the article, you can use the /// command to prevent the other parts of the article from interfering with your AI assistant.
This is hard to describe, please watch the video to see this command in action.
Context in the New /Commands
ShortlyAI just introduced three new commands to help during your writing. These are called "slash commands" because they start with a /. They're self-explanatory: /shorten, /rewrite, and /expand. The reason I bring them up here in this guide is because normally article brief and title are sent to GPT-3 for context -- but not when using these commands.
When you use a /command only the text within the  after the command is used. This gives you great flexibility when using them throughout your article.
Imagine an AI-Assistant Sitting Next to You
Here's something interesting to keep in mind when you're working with the AI in ShortlyAI. Imagine there's an AI-Assistant sitting next to you that can write for you — based on the instructions you provide it.
It's always available to help you write, whenever you want, but the skill is knowing what to give the assistant to get what you need from it. You have to be the boss. You have to know what you need, and you have to provide specific instructions.
🚀 Got a second? Because I'm curious -- as someone interested in making the most of AI-writers, what would you search for in Google to learn about it?
Be a Good Boss
Let's flip to story for a moment first. Imagine you were the assistant and your boss gave you an order to "write about Tokyo." What do you think?
Will it be easy to write about Tokyo in the way your boss really wants? What do you write about? The food? Hotels? The bombings during WWII? The financial crisis? The worry of a huge earthquake? The trains?
There are so many questions in your head and any one of them could be what the boss really wants… but since they didn't give you enough information your only hope is to wing it and hope you get it right.
And you probably won't.
It's the same for AI. You can't pass it something super vague, non-descriptive, and hope for perfect copy. You have to learn how to be a good boss.
Ask for things, but then also provide as much context and detail as you can about it. It's a balance. You don't want to spend so much time on the request that you might as well have written it yourself, but you need to provide enough for the AI to work with.
What Exactly Are You Asking For?
Another problem is that if you are making a request for text, you probably need to think about "what" exactly you're asking for. Let's go through a quick exercise where step-by-step I improve the request.
- Please write an article about Tokyo.
- Please write an in-depth article about Tokyo, Japan.
- Please write an in-depth article about the nightlife scene in Tokyo, Japan.
- Please write a fun, informative article about the nightlife scene in the Roppongi area of downtown Tokyo, Japan for a single, young professional.
Which of these do you think will return the best results? If you guess #4 you're right, but there is a catch isn't there? You have to know the topic in order to make the best request.
That's where research comes into play. You need to do some in order to make the most of AI writing tools — and my research guides will help you with that.