For this month’s Read Around the Rainbow, we’re dealing with the hot topic of AI. As you can imagine, given the controversy surrounding the potential impact of AI, this spurred plenty of discussion.
We each decided to choose a gay romance trope or subgenre and ask AI to write a short story, and then we would create our own for comparison. I chose Regency Romance as it wasn’t too challenging for my technological limitations.
Part of our group discussion centred on which AI content generator to use, a hot topic for a technophobe like me. I randomly chose one that didn’t require too much personal information on the signup form. Interestingly, unlike other generators, it refused the prompt of writing a gay romance ‘as it might be offensive and inappropriate’, a somewhat chilling response. It was fine with MF Regency and hilariously and alarmingly, once I omitted the word ‘gay’ and instead suggested male character names, it wrote exactly the same story but with name changes.
So my prompt was to write a 400-word Regency romance set in London using the character names James and Luc. Here it is.
James had never been one for the glittering balls and endless rounds of social engagements that defined London society. But when his friend Luc invited him to a ball hosted by the Duchess of Devonshire, he couldn’t say no. He had known Luc since childhood, and he trusted him implicitly. So he put on his finest clothes and made his way to the ball, hoping to avoid the worst of the crowds.
But as soon as he arrived, James knew that this was going to be a night to remember. The ballroom was filled with the cream of London society, all dressed in their finest clothes and glittering with jewels. But as James made his way through the throng, he couldn’t help feeling like an outsider. He was a newcomer to society, and he didn’t know anyone.
That’s when he saw him. Luc was standing by the refreshment table, looking just as out of place as James felt. James felt drawn to him, and before he knew it, he was standing beside him, striking up a conversation.
They talked for hours, dancing and laughing and forgetting about the rest of the world. James was struck by Luc’s easy charm and quick wit, and he found himself falling for him, hard.
As the night wore on, James realized that he was in love with Luc. He had never felt this way before, and he was both exhilarated and terrified by the feeling. But he couldn’t deny the pull he felt towards him, and he knew that he had to see him again.
They arranged to meet the following day in Hyde Park, and James spent the rest of the night dreaming of their next meeting. When they met in the park, it was like they had never been apart. They talked and laughed and walked for hours, lost in each other’s company.
As the days turned into weeks, James and Luc fell deeper in love. They spent every moment they could together, stealing kisses and dreaming of a future together. But they knew that their love was forbidden, and that society would never accept them.
Despite the odds against them, James and Luc refused to give up on their love. They knew that they were meant to be together, and they were willing to fight for it. And as they stood together in the fading light of a summer evening, they knew that they would face whatever challenges lay ahead, as long as they were together.
So far, so generically Regency. I’m sure I could have got something a bit more specific using particular keywords if I was in any way adept at this, but it was interesting to see what it came up with from a basic description.
For my story, I got the idea of using existing characters from my ongoing Regency Twelve Letters series. I decided to contrast the process of AI prompts with the (much slower) imaginative process, choosing characters that are already rattling around in my head.
So my short story is about the meeting between James Beaufort, the baddie in Gentlemen’s Agreement, book 4 in my series and Luc, the MC in book 5, The Misfit. These two have an intense fling in the background of Gentlemen’s Agreement until Luc realizes that Beaufort is a wrong ‘un.
The story isn’t exactly a romance and is a couple of hundred words longer than the AI-prompted piece. I think that illustrates the point that if you feed key terms and a word limit to AI, it spits something out automatically. Suggest an idea to a human brain and, after time for consideration, it comes up with something organic and offbeat, which is the entire point of creativity.
Vauxhall Gardens, London, Summer 1815
James Beaufort was partial to music. His status as an important man in his middle years accorded him access to exclusive recitals at private gatherings in Mayfair. But when it came to his favourite composers, he was prepared to sacrifice some dignity.
At a loose end on a balmy summer’s evening, not compelled to cram into an overcrowded salon for the sake of marital or political duty, it amused him to while away the twilight hours at Vauxhall Gardens before retiring to the gaming tables at Watiers Club on exclusive Piccadilly. Mozart’s compositions interpreted by the finest musicians would justify the interim sacrifice.
The variety of concertgoers at Vauxhall Garden’s Rotunda didn’t disgust him unduly. Taking his seat, Beaufort simply ignored their vulgarity with a barely-concealed sneer as he waited for the performance to begin.
Cobham’s in fine form tonight, he thought, briefly closing his eyes as the violinist launched into the concerto. Beaufort surveyed the players as the musician was accompanied by the rest of the orchestra. He noted a few celebrated faces and decided to linger after the concert to spread some mutually beneficial bonhomie.
Beaufort was cognisant of his impressive good looks and enviable position as a well-connected senior civil servant. His gaze drifted over the musicians, rapt amid their performance, and he lingered over an unfamiliar face. The violinist was young, perhaps in his early twenties, the exertions of his craft causing his thick dark hair to fall over his olive-toned brow. His nose was aristocratic, and his chin held a stubborn strength contrasting with his tremulous, expressive lips.
Beaufort admired the slender artistic fingers that held the bow with such skill. The young man was clearly a rising talent, holding his own amongst more established musicians. But that was not why he commanded Beaufort’s focus.
He considered the lad’s spare frame under the cover of evening clothes, a working musician’s uniform. The coat was slightly shiny at the elbows, the revealed shirt cuffs slightly frayed. There was an intriguing dichotomy between financial struggle and creative passion. Beaufort felt a tell-tale flicker of excitement.
It’s been a while since I’ve taken a lover, he surmised. Beaufort had to be discreet about his occasional affairs, especially those with men. He didn’t want to alienate his wife altogether. More to the point, he couldn’t afford to incur the censure of her wealthy and influential relatives who had secured his government post. Their support, allied with his raw ambition and considerable charm, allowed him within tantalising reach of the seat of ultimate power.
Lulled by the unfolding music and the striking young man, Beaufort calmly considered his options. Is he worth the risk?
A smile played over his distinguished features. Beaufort was a gambler by nature, not only in the rarified surroundings of gentlemen’s clubs. He was currently engaged in the ultimate speculation, backing Napoleon, England’s most notorious foe, against his own political colleagues. Just thinking of the odds should make him sick with fear. Instead, it made him feel more alive than ever.
If his wager paid off, he would be rich beyond his wildest dreams. His wealth would liberate him from the narrow regulations of society, unconfined by his marriage, no longer answerable to a collection of stuffed shirts.
The music swelled before fading, allowing Mr. Cobham to excel in a solo passage. The young violinist lowered his bow, awaiting his turn to recommence playing. Beaufort watched him greedily. Momentarily distracted, the musician met his gaze.
He had beautiful eyes, wide set and deep brown. They were still dreamy, spellbound by the music. Beaufort allowed himself to imagine that was exactly how the boy would look when he allowed him his release.
Those dark eyes surveyed Beaufort and widened unmistakably. He could have purred with satisfaction at such a swift and satisfactory response. That settles it, Beaufort judged. The thrill of high-stakes gaming hells could wait for another night while he pursued more earthy rewards.
My post will be linked on the last Friday of every month with posts from fellow blog ring members. There are seven other writers blogging in the Read Around the Rainbow Webring this month… find their posts to read how they got on versus AI!
Ofelia Grand : Addison Albright : A. L. Lester : Nell Iris : Lillian Francis : Fiona Glass : Holly Day :