How to Use NovelAI
Learn how to use NovelAI to get an AI writing assistant and supercharge your writing
"There's a new AI tool in town." Even though it feels like we're saying this every day now, everyone appreciates specialized tools. That's what NovelAI is. It is a powerful AI writing tool that you can use for various purposes, including writing fiction, nonfiction, and creative content.
And although not technically new, it is still under development, with new (sometimes experimental) features added every day. Trained on real literature and novels, it can create human-like writing which can even mimic your own writing. So, any writing you produce using NovelAI can maintain your style and perspective by seamlessly adapting to your input. You can think of the tool as a writing helper, there to fuel your creative journey. There is also a less developed version where the AI tells the story depending on your words and actions.
How Does It Work?
NovelAI is primarily an AI tool for writing and assisted storytelling – fiction, nonfiction, and poetry – powered by GPT-New and GPT-J, open-source alternatives for GPT-3.
There are plenty of features to assist in writing. But at its core, you start with a prompt that you provide to the AI. The prompt can be as long as you wish; it could be a paragraph, or it could be a word. Once you send your prompt to the AI, it'll begin writing it further.
The further writing process is a collaboration with the AI. Again, your input can be a paragraph or a word. Your prompts and AI's output is color-coded in separate colors, so you can always distinguish between the two.
However, there's just one thing to keep in mind – context. AI has a memory of 2048 tokens, which amounts to about 8000–9000 characters in English. (The memory of AI in the Tablet subscription is half of this.) This means that the AI cannot remember events from beyond its context. So, while it can help you write, at best, it can only help you write your current scene. That is, if you're using it to write a longer story or novel, it cannot remember all the details. However, there are some features that can help it remember a few details, which we'll discuss in the next section.
Who can read your Stories, and Where are they Stored?
Your stories cannot be read by anyone else unless you choose to share them with someone. By default, the stories are stored locally on your device. However, you can also store them on NovelAI's servers, in which case they are encrypted on your browser before sending the data over.
Do note that the prompts you send to the AI are unencrypted, as they are required for the tool to work. But rest assured that NovelAI does not store or log this unencrypted data anywhere.
NovelAI comes with a boatload of features to aid you with the writing process. However, it is not a free tool. It does offer a free subscription with around 100 free text generations, but once you exhaust it, you'll need to pay for a subscription to keep using it.
Depending on the subscription, users get access to different features and AI. There are two AI: Krake, "their best AI storyteller," is only available with the highest tier (Opus) subscription. Free-trial (Paper) and lower tier subscriptions (Tablet and Scroll) provide access to Euterpe, "their second best storyteller." There are also other AI storytellers, Calliope and Sigurd, that are available to all users.
There are also some features that are available to all users, regardless of the subscription. These include:
- Memory (Remember): You can store broad details related to your current setting, characters, their companions, or what has previously happened in the story here.
- Author's Note: Any information placed here will strongly influence the AI's output by making it focus on that detail.
- Customizable Editor: NovelAI features a user-friendly editor that can be customized as you like to make your writing space your own. With the theme editor, you can customize the fonts, sizes, or color scheme anytime.
- AI Modules: The AI Module you use while writing will directly influence the AI's behavior. There are several default modules you can use that NovelAI provides. These include styles of different authors, like Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, etc., themes like 19th-century romance, children's fiction, etc., or inspirations like Crab, Snail, and Monkey, Mercantile Wolfgirl romance, etc. There is also a special Text Adventure module, where the AI continues the story depending on your words and actions; this mode is suitable for you if open-ended is not quite your style.
- Custom AI Modules: You can even create your own custom modules by training them on the data you provide. This training data can include novels or writings from other authors whose style you might want to mimic, or you can even provide your own writings to train the AI on your style. Initially available only for Opus members, custom AI modules are now available to all NovelAI users.
- Lorebook: If you're writing a novel with world-building, NovelAI cannot truly assist you if it keeps generating content that goes against your imagined universe. Lorebook is the place to keep track of your world and ensure the AI remembers its rules. You can provide information about your world, characters, locations, etc., in the Lorebook. The entries created in the Lorebook are connected to keys. When the AI detects the key for an entry in the prompt, only then is that entry inserted into the context.
- Generation History: It sometimes happens that you don't like what the AI has generated, and you can ask it to generate the content again. But then you find yourself wishing for the older generation. NovelAI has a generation history feature, so you can get older generations back after retrying for new content.
- Image Generator: NovelAI also features an image generator that you can use to generate AI images. The Image Generator is available with all three subscription tiers but not with the free trial.
Getting Started With NovelAI
Getting started with NovelAI is extremely easy. All you need to do is go to their website, and you can start writing with the AI right away. As part of the Free Trial, users get a total of 100 free generations, out of which the first 50 can be generated without any account.
Go to novelai.net and click the 'Start Writing for Free' button.
An onboarding screen will appear. You can also choose to get a tutorial on how it works here. To continue, click 'No thanks, Let me in'.
Then, click the 'New Story' option.
Select the mode you'll like to use NovelAI in. Here, we're clicking 'Storyteller' to use it to generate a story.
Then, enter your prompt in the editor; the first prompt you enter will appear in yellow color. Click 'Send' in the bottom-right corner to send it.
The AI will generate content based on your prompt. The text generated by the AI will be color-coded in white. You can edit the text generated by the AI. Edited text will appear in purple to make it easy to distinguish. The further inputs in the story provided by you will appear in blue.
If you want the AI to continue the story further without providing any input again, hit the 'Send' button again.
If you don't like what the AI has generated at all, click the 'Retry' button next to the 'Send' button. When you hover over Retry, you'll also be able to see the text that would be regenerated. Using the 'Retry' button will use up one entry from your free generations.
The AI will regenerate the output. Click the 'Undo' button will delete the new generation too.
All the generations for the current prompt will then be visible by clicking the '[Number]' next to the Redo button. Selecting any of these outputs that have already been generated won't affect your limit.
To enter a title for your story, click the field above the story editor. You can also ask the AI to generate a random title for your story by clicking the cube with question marks on it. It will use one entry from your quota.
To see how many generations you have left, expand the left panel by clicking the 'Arrow' on the top-left corner.
Here, you can see your free generations and other stories. You can also start a new story by clicking the 'New Story' button.
If you're using NovelAI without creating an account, your stories might not be saved. While they might be available within the same browser, you should create an account to ensure you can access them from anywhere. To create an account, simply click the 'Sign Up' button.
Then, enter your email and password, and click 'Start Writing'.
You'll receive a confirmation code/ link on your email. Confirm the account to proceed.
To change the settings, click the 'Setting' icon in the top-right corner.
The Settings panel will appear on the right.
To change the 'AI Model', click the drop-down menu under the option and select the model you'd like to use. 'Euterpe' will be the default model for the free trial, but you can select other available models.
Next, you can select an AI Module. Click the drop-down menu under the option and scroll down to view and select from all available default modules.
Then, you can change which config preset to use. The output of the AI will be influenced by many factors, and the config preset has an important role in influencing that output. Unfortunately, the descriptions for config presets lean more toward the vague side. Most users think it would have been better if, for example, the descriptions mentioned whether the AI leans more towards dialogues or long narrative descriptions in a given preset. So, you might have to experiment with a few presets until you find the one that suits you.
Next, you can enter the 'Memory' for the AI. Memory is inserted at the very top of what the AI sees every time you hit 'Send'. This is something that you want the AI to constantly remember when producing outputs for you. By the text of the story alone, it can be difficult for the AI to maintain an overall picture, and you might find it steering off track often. For example, you can put the story so far in the memory field or the overall summary of the story in short one or two lines. In general, you can use it to introduce and maintain the central theme of the story, the broad strokes of the setting, the central conflicts, and the protagonist. You can also tags in Memory. An example of Memory can be:
In an isolated colony on a distant, barren planet, a small community of human colonists struggles to survive unknown attacks from an alien speices. As the only people on the planet, they can only depend on one another, while their equipment and advanced technology, meant to protect them, fail.
Then, you can insert the 'Author's Note' from the side menu. When sending the text to the AI, it is inserted a few lines above the new text. Consequently, it has a larger impact on the newly generated prose and the current scene than the Memory field. You can think of the Author's Note a little like stage directions in a screenplay, but you're giving directions to the AI on how to write. Keep this smaller than the Memory. You can use this section to define the genre, tone, writing style, etc. So, where Memory tells the AI more about the story, the Author's Note tells the AI more about the writing style. For example, Author's Note can dictate:
Tone: Focus on gritty scenes, visceral sensations, and thrilling action.
Next, you can search for and select a Lorebook entry if you have created one.
There are also many advanced settings that you can change from the 'Advanced' tab. But we suggest you first get the basics down before diving into advanced settings. Changing these settings without understanding them completely can do more harm than good to the AI's output.
Customizing the Editor and Other User Settings
You can also customize the editor and other interface settings any way you like to enhance the overall writing experience. Click the 'Arrow' in the top-left corner to expand the left panel.
Then, click the 'Settings' button.
To change the editor's theme, go to 'Theme' from the settings menu.
You can change the default theme entirely or the individual settings for different elements, like header color, paragraph color, header font, paragraph font, different color codes for the text, background, and foreground color, etc.
You can also change other interface elements, like line spacing, paragraph spacing, interface font size, and output font size, among other things. Navigate to 'Interface' from the menu on the left and change the desired settings.
NovelAI is a powerful AI writing tool that can be a great writing assistant. If you are looking for a tool to help you write better, NovelAI is a great option. And with the free trial, you can see if it's the right fit for you before spending any money.