One ChatGPT prompting technique you'll want to try is role-playing. With role-playing, you instruct ChatGPT to take on a persona, such as editor, author, or reader. This approach fine-tunes the AI's responses and gives you more actionable insights and ideas for edits. Plus, it's a prompting method you can use whether you're a copyeditor, developmental editor, line editor, or author coach. Intrigued? Let's dive in!
What Is Prompting?
Before we delve into the role-playing method, let's revisit the basics of "prompting" with ChatGPT. A "prompt" is an instruction you give to ChatGPT to get it to generate a specific response.
For instance, you might use a direct prompt, such as "summarize the following text," followed by a few lengthy paragraphs you want ChatGPT to review. ChatGPT would then offer a concise overview, transforming your bulky text into an easily digestible snippet.
What Is Role-Playing Prompting?
Role-playing prompting is taking the art of question-asking one step further. You're not just requesting information; you're setting a scene and having ChatGPT adopt a role. Imagine writing, "ChatGPT, pretend you're an experienced copyeditor, and I'm a new copyeditor. What should I focus on during my first pass of a novel?"
Why Is Role-Playing Effective?
Contextual Clarity = Focused Feedback: Role-playing prompts provide a layer of context that generic and broad prompts can't. ChatGPT understands the scenario better and responds with more specific, targeted advice. You're essentially customizing the AI's expertise to suit your needs.
Enhanced Creativity: Stepping into different roles stimulates creativity and encourages you (and ChatGPT) to think about a problem from multiple perspectives.
Role-Playing Prompt Format
The formula for a role-playing prompt is super simple and can be broken down into two main pieces:
[Role] + [Direction]
Role: This is where you tell ChatGPT what role to take on. This sets the stage and lets the AI know what persona it should adopt.
Direction: After you've set the role, you'll want to give a task related to that role.
Pretend you're a [role]. Provide your top advice on [topic].
Act like you're a [role]. Explain how you would handle [situation].
You are a [role]. Do this [task].
Role-play as a [role]. Assess the following [text].
Role-Playing as Editor, Author, and Reader
Editors may find it most helpful to instruct ChatGPT to take on the personas of "editor," "author," and "reader." Here are starting ideas for using each role.
Role-Play the Editor
If you're dealing with a text that needs better organization, clarity, consistency, or technical refinement, the editor role is your best bet.
Prompt: Act like you're an editor. Explain how you would improve this paragraph for middle-grade readers.
ChatGPT's Answer: As an editor, I'd recommend breaking up the long sentences to improve readability and adding a topic sentence for clarity.
Prompt: You are an editor. Assess whether this argument is well-supported.
ChatGPT's Answer: The argument could be strengthened by adding more data or expert quotes.
Role-Playing the Author
With the author role, you can get more creative advice. This can be especially useful for author coaches and developmental editors. If you're helping an author flesh out an first draft, role-playing as the author can offer insights into how to build the narrative or argument effectively.
Prompt: Role-play as an author. Tell me what's a good plot twist here.
ChatGPT's Answer: How about revealing that the protagonist's closest ally is actually a double agent?
Prompt: Pretend you are an author. Tell me how I can make this dialogue more realistic.
ChatGPT's Answer: Try using contractions and colloquial language to make the dialogue sound more natural.
Prompt: You are a first-time author who needs gentle and encouraging advice. Write suggestions about the following text in the style and tone you'd want to receive them. Here is the text:
ChatGPT's Answer: First of all, congratulations on taking the brave step of putting your words on paper! Writing is a journey, and you've already taken the first important step. Now, let's take a look at your text together.
Role-Playing the Reader
If you want to understand how a text might be received by its intended audience, use the reader persona. You'll get insights into the text's readability and engagement factors, helping you make reasoned editorial decisions.
Prompt: Act as a new employee. Explain how clear and engaging this edition of our company newsletter is.
ChatGPT's Answer: The newsletter's writing clearly explained upcoming events and updates, but the layout could be more interesting. Consider adding visuals or quotes to break up the text and capture the reader's attention.
Prompt: As a reader, assess whether the lesson was effective.
ChatGPT's Answer: The lesson had a lot of facts. Using anecdotes and examples would help information retention.
The role-playing method with ChatGPT is like having a Swiss Army Knife for editing. It's versatile, it's fun, and it can make your work so much better. So the next time you're stuck on a tricky paragraph and are looking for answers or inspiration, remember—you've got roles to play!
Erin Servais is an editor, educator, and community builder. Committed to helping editors improve their work and lives, she serves on the board of directors for ACES: The Society for Editing, is the president of the Editors Tea Club, and offers editor coaching services. Erin has presented about editing, entrepreneurship, and Artificial Intelligence for the Professional Editors Network, Editors Canada, the Northwest Editors Guild, and ACES.
Her current focus is training editors to uplevel their skills using Artificial Intelligence. She teaches the only comprehensive ChatGPT for Editors course on the market. Erin always tells ChatGPT please and thank you, just in case.
Email Erin: Erin@aiforeditors.com