I used ChatGPT to rewrite my text in the style of Shakespeare, C3PO, and Harry Potter

Is this a useful feature or a parlor trick? Either way, here's how to engineer prompts to transform any text via ChatGPT.
Written by David Gewirtz, Senior Contributing Editor
Reviewed by Alyson Windsor
Close-up of Shakespeare portrait
Photo by Kirsty O'Connor/PA Images via Getty Images

I'm continuing my exploration of what ChatGPT can do. This time, I'm looking into how ChatGPT can take some existing writing and rewrite it in a different style.

Also: I asked ChatGPT to write a WordPress plugin I needed. It did it in less than 5 minutes

In an odd way, this fits more into the part of my exploration about how ChatGPT can become part of our productivity kit bag. In previous articles, I've discussed how easily ChatGPT can write useful, if simple code and how ChatGPT can help with technical problems (possibly using plagiarized source material -- or at least inspired by human authors uncompensated for ChatGPT's use).

Also: The best AI chatbots: ChatGPT and other fun alternatives to try

In this article, I'm going to show you how ChatGPT can rewrite something in, say, the style of William Shakespeare or C3PO. If you stick around to the end, I'll show you some fun rewrites of the preamble of the US Constitution and why you might want to use this for something more productive than the chuckles it so obviously brought me while playing with it.

I'm starting with the most pedestrian prose I could think of. I recently did a review of three portable monitors, which included this paragraph about one of them:

The $500-ish FOPO S16 really does double up the value proposition offered by this category of super-light monitors. It consists of two 13.3 inch monitors on a special frame designed to fit right on the laptop's lid so that they nicely flank the laptop's own screen.

To generate an alternate style, I used a prompt of the form: "rewrite this in the style of [style name]: " and then followed the prompt with that paragraph. As we have done before, my writing is in plain text and bold, and the AI's response is in italic text.

The great writers

I started with Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe.

Rewrite in the style of William Shakespeare

Oh gentle mortal, lo and behold the $500-ish FOPO S16! 'Tis a wondrous device that doth double the value proposition offered by this fair category of super-light monitors. Verily, it consisteth of two 13.3 inch monitors on a frame most rare, designed to fit as if by magic on the laptop's lid, so that they might gracefully flank the laptop's own screen.

Rewrite in the style of Edgar Allan Poe

Oh ominous device, the $500-ish FOPO S16, how it multiplies the value proposition offered by the realm of super-light monitors. A manifestation of two 13.3 inch monitors, housed within a frame of uncommon design, it drapes upon the laptop's lid like a shroud, darkly flanking the laptop's own screen.

You can see the 15th century phrasing, the complex language, poetic phrasing, and metaphor so favored by Shakespeare. And you can also see the slightly gothic and macabre phrasing used by Poe in that rewrite.

I mean, seriously, how cool is this?

Rewrite in the style of Jane Austen

Indeed, the $500-ish FOPO S16 is a device of exceptional caliber, for it does truly double the value proposition offered by this most distinguished category of super-light monitors. Comprised of two 13.3 inch monitors, housed within a frame of singular design, it is crafted to fit most elegantly upon the laptop's lid, and thus, graces the laptop's own screen with its impeccable presence.

You can almost feel the well-mannered Regency era dripping from that paragraph, can't you? So let's see what Emily Dickinson might do with a tech review.

Rewrite in the style of Emily Dickinson

The $500-ish FOPO S16 - a treasure untold, It doubles value in this category bold, Of super-light monitors, free from dross, Two 13.3 inches, on a frame across. A design unique, fit for laptop's hold, Together they flank, with story untold.

Yep, nailed it!

The great books

Okay, so look. I know some people might take issue with my choosing both the Bible and Harry Potter, but I wanted to test this against two documents about as opposite as I could think of. So read this as experimental results data and ignore any controversy that might come to mind.

Rewrite this in the style of King James Bible

Verily, the $500-ish FOPO S16 doth indeed double the value proposition offered by this category of super-light monitors. Behold, it is comprised of two 13.3 inch monitors, upon a frame most singular, designed to fit in goodly fashion upon the laptop's lid, that they may elegantly adorn the laptop's own screen.

Rewrite in the style of Harry Potter

Aha! The $500-ish FOPO S16, a wondrous artifact it is, indeed it does double the value proposition offered by this category of super-light monitors. Two 13.3 inch monitors, ensconced within a frame most peculiar, designed to fit snugly upon the laptop's lid, flanking the laptop's own screen with great panache.

You can see the formal, slightly archaic style of the King James era in the first response and the slightly magical, fantastical feel of the second response.

The characters

Next, I decided to see how ChatGPT would fare rewriting into a variety of character voices. I started with everyone's favorite protocol droid.

Write in the style of C3PO

Oh my, sir/madam, allow me to express my admiration for the FOPO S16, priced at approximately 500 credits. It truly enhances the value proposition of this category of super-light monitors. It comprises of two 13.3 inch monitors, mounted on a frame specifically designed to fit seamlessly on the laptop's lid, creating a visually appealing and functional configuration that enhances the laptop's display.

You can almost see C3PO waving his arms. But then I decided to go a bit afield and asked:

What does the fox say about this?

The fox might say, "Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding! Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow!" In other words, the fox is amazed and impressed by the value proposition offered by the FOPO S16. The two additional monitors and the special frame make it a versatile and useful tool for those who need to work on multiple tasks at once.

And, unable to believe I waited so long to try this out:

Rewrite in the style of talk like a pirate day

Arrr matey! The FOPO S16, worth a hearty sum o' near $500 pieces o' eight, truly be doublin' the booty in terms o' the value it brings to this swashbucklin' category o' superlight monitors! It be packin' two 13.3 inch scallywags on a special frame, fit fer a snug perch atop yer laptop's lid, flankin' yer own screen like a pair o' trusty first mates!

I now want to turn in all my articles in this style.

The self-referential test

Since I was testing against other writers and styles, I figured it would be interesting to see what ChatGPT thought of my writing style, hoping it would not tear a hole in the space/time continuum. Here goes.

Rewrite in the style of David Gewirtz

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you a technological marvel that is shaking up the world of super-light monitors. The $500-ish FOPO $16 is a true testament to innovation and smart design. This device offers a two-for-one deal, doubling the value proposition offered by its competitors. Comprised of two 13.3-inch monitors housed in a specially crafted frame, the FOPO S16 fits seamlessly onto the lid of your laptop, creating a visually stunning setup. These two monitors work in tandem, flanking your laptop's own screen, to deliver an unparalleled computing experience. Whether you're a professional, a student, or simply a tech aficionado, the FOPO S16 is a must-have accessory that will take your computing to the next level.

It will come as no surprise, particularly to my editors, that ChatGPT's rewrite of my original work in what it thinks is my own style is 50% longer than the next longest rewrite. [Editor's note: 😂] I was curious, though...

What are the characteristics of David Gewirtz writing that differentiate it from other writing styles?

David Gewirtz is known for writing in a style that is technical, informative, and engaging. His writing is characterized by his deep knowledge of technology and his ability to explain complex concepts in a clear and concise manner. He often uses analogies and real-life examples to make his points, which makes his writing more relatable and accessible to a wider audience. He also has a strong understanding of the business and political aspects of technology, and often incorporates these perspectives into his writing. Additionally, David Gewirtz is known for his strong opinions and his ability to write in a way that is both analytical and entertaining. This combination of technical expertise, storytelling, and humor sets his writing apart from others in the field.

Well. That was kind. Much more positive than I expected, so I'll take the win. Thanks, ChatGPT.

Prompt engineering: Let's train ChatGPT

We've looked at existing styles. But what about creating a new one? Prompt engineering is the newest computer discipline, but already we're starting to see some uses of the term in job listings. Prompt engineering is the careful crafting of prompts to tell or ask a generative AI like ChatGPT to produce something.

In this case, I wanted to define a new style and train ChatGPT to use it when rewriting the test paragraph. I called this style Professor Eor and styled it on a mix between an academician and the melancholy Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh.

Here's my training brief:

You understand how to rewrite a document in the style of a given individual. For example, you can rewrite a paragraph in the style of William Shakespeare. We're going to define a style for an individual called "Professor Eor". Professor Eor's style is characterized by:

  • the use of very long and complex words, especially where a simpler word would do
  • a love of alliteration
  • a sense of sadness, pessimism, melancholy disposition, and gloomy outlook

When asked to rewrite something in the style of "Professor Eor," please use these characteristics.

I first instructed the AI about the context of where this training brief was to be used. Then I defined three characteristics that could be applied to a piece of copy. Let's see what happens.

Here's what the AI responded with:

Of course! I shall endeavor to create a prose befitting of the distinguished and learned Professor Eor. Here is an example of a paragraph re-written in the Professor Eor's style: "The sky is grey and the wind is cold, and it seems that all of nature is in a state of melancholic disenchantment. The dreary despondence that pervades the air is a manifestation of the whimsical woe that afflicts the human heart, and I cannot help but be overcome by a sense of forlorn foreboding."

Rewrite the monitor review paragraph in the style of Professor Eor

The FOPO S16, with a monetary value of nigh upon five hundred monetary units, does indeed compound the inadequate worth presented by this class of insubstantial visual display apparatuses. Its constitution embodies two monitors of inadequate size, each residing within a customized support structure, created to conform to the topmost surface of a mobile computing device, yet still failing to compensate for the lamentable inadequacy of the primary visual portal.

It nailed the big words and melancholy, and even threw in a little alliteration.

Playing "what if" with the preamble

Now that I've tried the rewrite-in-the-style-of prompt with a simple review paragraph, I wondered how ChatGPT would do with what's probably the most important document in human history. No, I'm not talking about Asimov's Foundation saga, I'm talking about the Constitution of the United States of America. Let's do some testing, shall we?

For the record, this is the actual preamble:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain, decree, and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Rewrite the preamble of the Constitution in the style of talk like a pirate day

Ahoy ye landlubbers! We, the hearty souls of these here United States, be comin' together to form a Union more fit for seafarin' folk like ourselves. We sets our sights on establishin' justice for all, keepin' the peace on our own shores, providin' for the common defense against them scallywag nations, promotin' the general well-being of our people, and ensurin' the blessings of liberty for us and our kin for generations to come. So we raise the Jolly Roger and decree this here Constitution for the United States of America!

And then, for my last rewrite test, we have…this:

Rewrite the preamble of the Constitution in the style of Professor Eor

We, the forlorn and despairing populace of these divided and tumultuous States, who, in a moment of fleeting hope, do resign ourselves to the futile pursuit of forming a Union of greater perfection and coherence, desperately striving towards the establishment of justice, albeit in vain, the preservation of domestic peace, an illusionary notion, the provision for the common defense, a feeble attempt, the promotion of the general welfare, a fleeting aspiration, and the securing of the blessings of liberty, a distant dream, not only for ourselves, but for our posterity, do ordain, decree, and, with a heavy heart and a bleak outlook, establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

You can't make this stuff up.

So, is there any use for this or is it just a parlor trick?

Oh, I'd have to say it's about 80% parlor trick. I mean, seriously, this is fun. I got carried away with this the same way I do when looking at kitten and puppy pictures. The only thing that saved me was when ChatGPT told me I'd asked too many questions.

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But I can see a use. For example, let's say you're trying to write a story but you want some dialog to sound like it's coming from a defined character. You could specify the characteristics and then have ChatGPT create the dialog. Here's what Professor Eor did with this paragraph.

Indeed, a most utilitarian application presents itself! One could utilize this capability to imbue a tale with the verbiage of a specified character. By defining the character's attributes, one could then task ChatGPT to generate dialogue befitting of said character. Observe, as I, Professor Eor, have demonstrated with this very paragraph.

You could also use it to normalize contributions to a report or piece of marketing so that all submissions have a substantially similar writing style. You could also use it to simplify a more advanced writing style to make an article suitable to a broader audience.

Beyond that, I'm still exploring. What do you think? Is rewriting in the style a parlor trick, or are there good, productive uses for this feature? Let us know in the comments below.

You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

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