From Consumer to Creator: Analyzing and Producing Machine-Made Stories

Marc Watkins
Academic Innovation Fellow, Director of the AI Institute for Teachers, and Lecturer of Writing and Rhetoric
University of Mississippi

This assignment is part of an introduction to an AI literacy module for undergraduate students to think critically about generative text by first reading an interactive essay made with the aid of generative AI, and then asking students to create their own short narrative using generative AI. The goal is for students to reflect on the pragmatic affordances and ethical considerations of reading, and then writing a text mixed with human and machine-created text.

Learning Goals

By the end of this assignment, students will be able to:

  • Understand the concept of generative AI and its potential influence on human activities, particularly in writing.
  • Analyze and discuss the ethical implications of using generative AI in creative processes.
  • Reflect on their own understanding and perception of generative AI.

Original Assignment Context: Part of an introduction to AI literacy module for first-year writing students and digital media studies students

Materials Needed: A critical artifact produced by mixing human and machine created content and an accessible generative AI platform for story creation, like AI Dungeon. 

Timeframe: Two 50-75 minute class periods, roughly one week.


How we introduce the concept of AI literacy to students will likely be a moving target in education for some time to come. Do we begin with an overly technical description of the technology? Or do we dive into the myriad ethical challenges? Perhaps the question is how can we do any of these things without letting the content overwhelm students? Depending on your audience, I think simple and accessible is the order of the day for introducing a mix of the above. The goal is to open the door for students to begin understanding how generative AI is impacting our world, so this assignment asks them to read a critical essay about a failed relationship that used generative AI as a writing aid, before asking students to create their own generative narrative. The reflective questions at the end ask them to consider and critically think about the exercise and what it means to their writing and learning. The following assignment was taught once in a first-year writing course and an introduction to digital media studies course in the fall of 2023. 

The Assignment

Today, we’re going to read an interactive story called “Nothing Breaks like A.I. Heart” by Pamela Mishkin and then create our own interactive story using generative AI. Mishkin used an earlier version of the technology powering ChatGPT called GPT-3 to help write the essay. We’re going to read the assignment and consider the benefits, limitations, and potential issues using this technology poses for writing.


Read the story carefully, including the author’s note. Take your time and explore the rhetorical choices the author uses to make her point, along with some of the technical features used throughout the essay to make it interactive. Many of these features use generative AI, so it’s important to pause and reflect on how these features help, hinder, or change the narrative of the story. Also, take note of the attitude Mishkin has toward the technology and what argument she is making about the technology’s impact on writing and reading. 

Group Discussion Questions

  • How does the author describe their experience of writing with GPT-3? What are some of the challenges and benefits they mention?
  • In the author’s note, Mishkin says “Writing with GPT-3, it is hard not to drown in the power of suggestion.” What do you think she means by this? 
  • What does the author mean by "the story taking on the shape of the model"? How does this reflect the influence of AI on human activities?
  • The author mentions the concept of "internalized misogyny" in AI. What does this mean, and how might it affect the outputs of an AI model like GPT-3?
  • How does the author compare the experience of writing with GPT-3 to writing with an editor or putting content on a tech platform? What are the similarities and differences?

Activity: Creating My AI Story

Now that we’ve read an interactive AI generated story, it’s time to give you hands-on experience in using the technology to create a short story. We'll use a tool called AI Dungeon, which allows you to have a back-and-forth storytelling experience.

Step 1: Go to and create a free account. Familiarize yourself with the interface.

Step 2: Use the features within the system to devise a story that interests you. Make choices carefully and thoughtfully!

Step 3: Input your prompts and let the AI respond. Once your AI generated adventure begins, you will need to make certain choices. Have fun with this as a back-and-forth, responding to the AI's text to guide the story, but remember to think about the implications of what you are asking and what the AI in turn produces in its output.

Step 4: Let the story unfold for at least 5-10 exchanges. When you feel it's reached a reasonable ending point, finish your AI adventure.

Step 5: Copy your story text and paste it into a document to save and submit it to the discussion board.

Step 6: In small groups, share your stories and discuss:

  • How did you come up with the premise and guide the story?
  • What worked well and what didn't in collaborating with the AI?
  • How coherent and sensible was the story?
  • What are the implications of using AI in creative writing?

Metacognitive Reflection Questions

  • How did your understanding of AI change after reading this essay or creating your story? What surprised you the most?
  • How do you feel about the idea of AI influencing human activities, like writing? Do you see it as a tool, a collaborator, or something else?
  • If you were to use an AI like GPT-3 (now ChatGPT) to help with a creative project, what would you use it for? How could you avoid what Mishkin noticed: “My writing starts to sound like GPT-3: I repeat similar phrases, lose focus in the middle of sentences, and fall back on cliched tropes that feel close enough to the truth. Over time and drafts, the inputs and outputs converge.” How would you ensure that the final product still reflects your own ideas and voice?
  • Reflect on the ethical implications of using AI in creative processes. What are some potential issues, and how might they be addressed?


Marc Watkins, License: Released under a CC-BY SA 4.0