In digital art forms, such as illustration, animation, music, and photography, computer software and digital equipment can enhance, if not help construct, the final piece of art. Layers, algorithms, synthesizers, filters, and more transform the artist’s unadorned input into a polished masterpiece. Simple adjustments to values such as saturation, bass, speed, and coordinates can likewise reshape the nature of the work.
What goes into the digital never comes out the same.
Although the artist’s skill with the software or equipment determines the quality of the finished product, the software or equipment itself undertakes a good portion of the artistic work. The computer analyzes, calculates, processes, renders, and converts according to the parameters set by the artist. In many ways, digital editors can simplify the process of art creation; in many other ways, they can complicate it.
Digital editors can, in other words, help artists create art that they would not be able to on their own.
No such digital enhancement exists—yet—for writing. Yes, word processors can insert, delete, and move text with ease, and spelling and grammar checkers can inform writers of errors, and computer programs can analyze writing for plagiarism, but none can transform writing in the same way that digital editors can transform other art forms.
Imagine: Storyshop, a piece of software that can read and understand an author’s writing and alter it by way of style adjustments. The software comes loaded with preset genre, theme, and effect packages that can be customized to the writer’s liking. The intuitive UI is easy to use and includes multiple forms of data input, from sliders to numerical values to text highlighting.
Story not scary enough? Apply the Horror Filter to increase the tension in scenes, amp up the atmosphere, and add more shock and surprise moments. Is your romance too raunchy, or your teen novel too mature? Use the Innocence Slider to rid your piece of risqué action and decrease the level of explicit language.
Changing technical aspects of your writing is easy, too. Highlight passages and apply the Perfect Past Tense Mask to change the present tense action into flashbacks. Select one character’s name, type in a new one, and watch as all instances of that character’s name switch to the new name. You can even change the gender, physical appearance, or speech habits of a character in one passage and apply the Mirror Throughout Effect to reflect those changes in the rest of the story.
Storyshop: rewriting has never been this easy or this fun.
Digitally Enhancing or Digitally Cheating?
If writers could use a program such as Storyshop, at what point does the writer stop writing and the software take over? Is the Perfect Past Tense Mask a convenient digital enhancement, but the Horror Filter a cheat? If Storyshop can insert text that mimics the writer’s style, is the program doing the writing, or is the author doing it by proxy?
Could writers produce stories with Storyshop that they could never produce on their own, without digital assistance? Is the writer still the creative and talented genius behind a Storyshop novel, or is the software the genius?
There is no denying that digital assistance, be it equipment like digital cameras and synthesizers or software like Photoshop and RenderMan, helps artists produce art that is not possible by nondigital means or produce art that is stronger than nondigital art. The quandary is whether this digital assistance takes over some of our artistry and makes us less or more of an artist as a result.