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GPT-4 Vs. GPT-3 How the New Model Stacks up for Creative Writing

big robot and little robot battling it out in a boxing ring

Is all the hype really worth it?

GPT-4 came out in the middle of March and I didn’t hesitate to give it a try. Right now, you have to pay a subscription fee to use it, which is frustrating after having access to GPT-3 for a while for free. But as soon as I started using it I could see how big of a change it was and I haven’t regretted my decision. 

And in case you’re wondering, I’m not sponsored by OpenAI or using affiliate links, I just really really like GPT-4 🙂

What’s Changed Between GPT-3 and GPT-4

The first big change is how much information GPT-4 can process before it runs out of memory. GPT-3 was able to “remember” about 4000 tokens, which is why you need to remind it very often of what’s going on and what you’re trying to do. GPT-4 can handle up to 32,000. That’s a big difference. (Here’s a really detailed article about how ChatGPT works that explains tokens, if you want to go there).

It is better at accuracy. This is one of the main complaints people had about GPT-3 because it would often confidently make things up, but GPT-4 does this much less. The language it uses is more nuanced and complex, and it can synthesize multiple concepts into a coherent whole much better. It can, in theory, even understand images (although this function isn’t currently supported). 

Also, according to Search Engine Journal, “Unlike its predecessor, GPT-4 now includes a feature that allows it to properly cite.” This has incredible potential for researchers.

But is GPT-4 Really Better?

All this is great, but just like me, you’re probably wondering if it makes that much difference in day to day creative writing type interactions with ChatGPT. After about a month of using it, I can confidently say, absolutely. It’s funny, I wasn’t as sure about that until I went to update my first book for GPT-4 last week (the new version is available here.). I did a few comparison prompts to include in the book and it totally blew me away. I thought I would share some of these for those of you who are wondering if paying for GPT-4 is worth it, and what the differences are like. 

This is going to be a long post, but I’m going to use the same prompts with both GPT-3 and GPT-4 so you can see the difference. The following prompts are all from my first book, ChatGPT for Fiction Writing.

I hope you find this comparison useful! 

The Prompt Comparisons

man and woman red headed chefs embracing
Image: Midjourney

ME: can you create a basic outline for a romance fiction novel with a three act structure with the following ideas: a down on his luck celebrity chef returns to his hometown and falls in love with the younger sister of his best friend who is a veterinarian who was abandoned at the altar?

GPT-3 (169 words): 

Sure, here’s a basic outline of a romance fiction novel with three acts:

Act I: Introduction

Down on his luck celebrity chef, named Max, returns to his hometown

Reunites with his childhood friend and the veterinarian, named Samantha

Max and Samantha’s relationship is initially strained due to Max’s reputation as a playboy

Max starts to fall in love with Samantha’s younger sister, named Lily, who was abandoned at the altar

Act II: Conflict

Max struggles with his feelings for Lily and balancing his newfound responsibilities as a chef in his hometown

Max must overcome his playboy reputation and prove to Lily that he has changed

Lily is hesitant to trust Max after being hurt in the past and must learn to open up to love again

Act III: Resolution

Max and Lily finally confess their feelings for each other and overcome any obstacles in their way

Max regains his footing as a chef and restores his reputation

Max and Lily plan a future together and Samantha supports their relationship.

GPT-4 (362 words): 

Title: Love Served Warm

Act 1: Homecoming and Reconnection

Introduction to the protagonist, a down-on-his-luck celebrity chef named Jack, who’s recently lost his job and reputation in the culinary world.

Jack decides to return to his small hometown for a fresh start and to reconnect with old friends and family.

Jack encounters his best friend, Tom, who owns a local animal clinic and introduces Jack to his younger sister, Emily, a veterinarian who was recently left at the altar.

Jack and Emily have an instant connection, but both are hesitant to pursue anything due to their recent hardships and the fact that Emily is Tom’s sister.

Act 2: Building Tensions and Romance

Jack decides to start a small-town restaurant, and Tom and Emily offer their support and assistance.

As Jack and Emily spend more time together, they begin to develop feelings for each other, but try to keep it a secret from Tom.

Jack’s culinary skills begin to attract attention from the town, and his restaurant gains popularity, leading to his renewed sense of purpose.

Emily starts to heal from her heartbreak, finding comfort in her growing bond with Jack and her passion for her veterinary work.

Tom begins to suspect something between Jack and Emily, leading to tension and conflict between the friends.

Act 3: Climax and Resolution

Jack’s restaurant is reviewed by a renowned food critic, and his positive review leads to a potential opportunity to return to the celebrity chef world.

Emily’s ex-fiancé shows up in town, seeking forgiveness and a second chance, causing further emotional turmoil for her.

Tom confronts Jack about his feelings for Emily, leading to a heartfelt conversation about love, loyalty, and friendship.

Jack and Emily confess their love for each other, deciding to take a chance on their relationship, despite the obstacles they face.

Jack declines the opportunity to return to his celebrity chef life, choosing to stay in his hometown with Emily, and Tom gives them his blessing.

The novel concludes with Jack and Emily solidifying their love and commitment to each other, as they build their lives together in their small town, surrounded by friends, family, and the support of the community.

dragons in the desert
Image: Midjourney

ME: can you help me create a detailed description of a dragon race that lives in the real world in 1800s western United States?

GPT-3 (209 words):

Sure! Let’s start by thinking about what kind of dragons these might be. Maybe they’re similar in appearance to the typical Western dragon, with large wings, sharp claws and teeth, and a long tail. However, because they live in the 1800s western United States, they might have adaptations that help them blend in with the local wildlife and avoid detection by humans.

For example, these dragons might have scales that blend in with the colors of the surrounding desert and mountains, or they might have the ability to change their size to appear like small lizards when they need to be discreet. They could also have keen senses that allow them to detect danger from a distance, as well as the ability to breathe fire or use other elemental powers.

In terms of their society, these dragons might form tight-knit communities, living in caves or hidden places where they can be safe from human intrusion. They might have a strong sense of hierarchy, with alpha dragons leading the way and younger or weaker dragons deferring to their elders. They could also have a rich history and culture, with stories passed down from generation to generation about their ancient origins and the trials and tribulations they’ve faced in the past.

GPT-4 (435 words):

In the 1800s western United States, a secretive dragon race known as the Draco Occidentalis Americanus lived in remote and hidden locations, often residing in mountain caves, dense forests, or even deserts. They were largely undiscovered by humans due to their keen ability to camouflage themselves and their elusive nature.

Physical Characteristics:

The Draco Occidentalis Americanus were medium-sized dragons, measuring around 20 feet in length with a wingspan of up to 35 feet. Their scales exhibited a variety of colors, including earthy tones like browns, greens, and grays, enabling them to blend seamlessly with their natural surroundings. They had muscular limbs, ending in sharp talons, perfect for grasping onto rocky terrain or capturing prey. Their tails were long and whip-like, often featuring a cluster of spiked protrusions at the tip, useful for defense and balance.

Behavior and Social Structure:

These dragons were primarily nocturnal, hunting for prey under the cover of darkness to avoid detection by humans. They had excellent night vision and a highly developed sense of smell, allowing them to locate prey easily. They were carnivorous, feeding on a variety of animals, such as deer, elk, and occasionally livestock, which sometimes led to conflict with ranchers.

The Draco Occidentalis Americanus were a highly intelligent and social species, living in small, tight-knit communities called broods. Each brood was led by a dominant pair, an alpha male and female, who were responsible for decision-making and maintaining order within the group.

Breeding and Lifespan:

Mating occurred once every five years, with the dominant pair producing a clutch of 3 to 5 eggs. These eggs were fiercely protected by the entire brood and incubated in the warmest part of their lair. Once hatched, young dragons remained with their brood for several years, learning essential skills like hunting and flying from their elders.

Draco Occidentalis Americanus had a long lifespan, often living for several centuries. As they aged, their scales would become more vibrant and their wisdom highly respected among their kin.

Cultural Interaction:

Encounters with humans were rare and often shrouded in mystery. While these dragons were highly intelligent and capable of understanding human language, they were also cautious and mistrustful of humans, avoiding contact whenever possible. Some Native American tribes revered them as powerful spirits, while settlers in the West heard whispers of their existence, fueling legends and folklore.

As the 1800s progressed and the human population expanded, the Draco Occidentalis Americanus faced increasing challenges to their survival, such as habitat loss and the threat of discovery. They became even more elusive and reclusive, retreating further into the wilderness to preserve their ancient way of life.

1800s image of men around a table researching
Image: Midjourney

ME: What were the views on psychology during the 1860s period in eastern Europe, and how did they differ for men and women?

GPT-3 (285 words): 

During the 1860s, psychology was still a relatively new field, and there was not yet a consensus on its principles and theories. However, there were some notable trends and views on psychology during this time in Eastern Europe.

In general, psychology was viewed as a field that was primarily concerned with the study of mental processes and behavior. The prevailing view was that psychology should be based on scientific methods, such as experimentation and observation, and that it should be focused on understanding the underlying mechanisms that govern human behavior.

During this time period, there were some notable differences in the way that men and women were viewed in the field of psychology. In general, men were seen as more suited for scientific pursuits, and women were viewed as being more emotional and irrational. As a result, women were often excluded from the field of psychology, both as practitioners and as subjects of study.

However, there were some notable exceptions to this view. For example, the pioneering psychologist Mary Whiton Calkins, who was based in the United States but had connections to Europe, conducted groundbreaking research on memory and was the first woman to become president of the American Psychological Association.

In Eastern Europe, there were also some notable female psychologists during this time period, such as Nadezhda Ladygina-Kohts, who conducted research on child development and was the first woman to earn a doctorate in psychology in Russia.

Overall, during the 1860s, psychology was still in its early stages of development, and there were a range of views and opinions about the field. While women were often excluded from the field, there were some notable exceptions who made significant contributions to the study of psychology.

GPT-4 (408 words):

In the 1860s, psychology was not yet a distinct discipline in Eastern Europe, as it was still in its early stages of development globally. The understanding and treatment of mental health during this period were rooted in a blend of philosophical, medical, and religious ideas. The field of psychology began to take shape in the late 19th century with the establishment of the first psychological laboratories and the works of pioneering psychologists like Wilhelm Wundt and Sigmund Freud.

In the 1860s Eastern Europe, views on mental health were heavily influenced by the medical model, which attributed mental illness to biological factors like brain diseases or imbalances in bodily fluids (the humoral theory). Mental disorders were often seen as a result of moral weaknesses, spiritual afflictions, or supernatural causes such as curses or demonic possession. Treatments for mental disorders varied widely, ranging from herbal remedies and bloodletting to prayer and exorcism.

Men and women were treated differently when it came to mental health, reflecting the prevailing gender norms and social expectations of the time. Women were often considered more prone to mental illness due to their perceived emotional and physical fragility. Hysteria, a poorly defined condition associated with emotional instability and physical symptoms, was often diagnosed in women during this period. Female “hysterics” were believed to suffer from a wandering uterus, and treatments ranged from rest and restricted diets to more invasive procedures such as “hysterical paroxysm” (now known as orgasm) induced by doctors.

Men, on the other hand, were expected to be more rational and emotionally stable. Mental health issues in men were more likely to be attributed to external factors, such as stress or substance abuse, rather than inherent weaknesses. Treatments for men were more likely to focus on regaining control and stability in their lives, often through strict routines, physical exercise, and work.

Despite these differences in treatment and perception, both men and women suffering from mental health issues faced social stigma and discrimination. Mental health was not well understood, and those affected were often feared or shunned by their communities.

It is essential to note that the 1860s Eastern European perspective on psychology and mental health was shaped by a diverse array of cultural, religious, and philosophical traditions. These views evolved throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as the emerging field of psychology started to establish itself as a separate scientific discipline, and new theories and treatment methods began to replace earlier beliefs.

a haunted mansion in the style of Edgar Allen Poe
Image: Midjourney

ME: Generate a description of a haunted mansion in the style of Edgar Allan Poe.

GPT-3 (180 words):

 In the shadows of the dark and foreboding night, the old mansion stood tall and proud, its walls stained with the tales of terror that lay within. Its ivy-covered walls whispered of the tormented souls that once roamed its halls, and the rickety shutters seemed to scream warnings to all who dared to approach.

The creaking of the doors as they were pushed open was like a death knell ringing out, inviting all who entered to come and face their doom. The musty air was thick with the scent of decay, and the walls were adorned with cobwebs, each strand bearing witness to the horrors that had transpired within.

But despite the fear that it invoked, there was a strange beauty to the mansion, a magnetism that drew the unwary closer and closer until they were consumed by the terror that lay within. For the mansion was a place of mystery and of magic, a place where the line between life and death was thin, and where the ghostly whispers of the dead echoed through the halls for all eternity.

GPT-4 (373 words):

Upon the crest of a desolate, wind-swept hill stood a mansion, its dark and foreboding presence casting an ominous shadow over the land below. Its once stately walls, now ravaged by the merciless hands of time, bore testimony to the decay that had taken hold of this accursed abode. Each stone, begrimed with the residue of years, bore the weight of stories untold—tales of despair and desolation that echoed through the cold, empty halls.

The twisted and gnarled trees, standing sentinel around the mansion’s perimeter, reached out with their skeletal branches, as if seeking to ensnare any unsuspecting souls who dared approach. The very air seemed infused with a palpable sense of dread, as though the atmosphere itself wished to escape the cursed grounds, but found itself imprisoned by the relentless grip of darkness.

The mansion’s vast, iron-laden gates creaked in despair with each gust of the restless wind, their dissonant groaning a dirge for the damned. The shattered windows gazed out like hollow eyes, devoid of life yet filled with sorrowful memories, silently beseeching the heavens for release from their eternal torment.

Inside, the oppressive gloom held dominion over the once grand rooms, their faded splendor now reduced to tattered remnants of a bygone era. The walls, adorned with the crumbling visages of long-dead inhabitants, were stained with the murky hues of melancholy and despair, while the very air hung heavy with the scent of decay and desolation.

In the deepest, darkest corners of this forsaken mansion, whispers echoed from the very bowels of the earth, as if the spirits of the damned still roamed the corridors, eternally searching for solace from their eternal torment. The anguished cries of the lost souls seemed to meld with the mournful sighs of the wind, creating a symphony of sorrow that reverberated throughout the haunted halls.

The haunted mansion stood as an enduring monument to the impermanence of all earthly things, a grim reminder that even the most formidable edifices must eventually succumb to the relentless march of time. In its decay and desolation, the mansion served as an eerie testament to the darkness that lies dormant within the human soul, waiting for the right moment to unleash its insidious grasp upon the world.


Want to learn more about writing fiction with ChatGPT? I wrote a book for that! ChatGPT for Fiction Writing is updated and expanded for GPT-4!

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