While most people think of ChatGPT as a way to generate new text, one of its most powerful abilities is to transform existing text into another format. Whether this is text that you have written, or text from another source.
Getting Your Text Into ChatGPT
The first step in transforming your written content with ChatGPT is to input your original text. This process is straightforward. When prompted, you simply copy and paste your text into the text field.
Keep in mind that ChatGPT is not a mind reader. It uses patterns in the data to generate responses based on the input it’s been given. The better your input, the better the output.
That being said, I have copied some pretty broken text into ChatGPT and the results were great. For example, copying the entire auto-transcribed chat history of a Microsoft Teams Meeting into ChatGPT and having it write a concise meeting report works surprisingly well.
Working in Chunks and Prompting ChatGPT
ChatGPT can only process a certain amount of “tokens” at a time. If your content exceeds this limit, you need to break it down into smaller chunks. ChatGPT will let you know if a prompt was too long, but I’ve used a method where I prompt ChatGPT with something like “I’m going to give you text in multiple chunks, don’t do anything with it, just read it for now.” and then paste in the text in multiple parts.
Also, the way you prompt ChatGPT matters. If you want to transform your text into a different format, be clear about your intentions. For example, if you want to convert a blog post into a YouTube script, you might preface your text with, “Please convert the following blog post into a script suitable for a YouTube video.”
Hopefully, that all makes sense, but we’re going to walk through a few practical examples to demonstrate exactly how this works.
Example 1: Turning A Blog Post Into a YouTube Script
Let’s take one of yours truly’s most popular articles Why Don’t We Have 128-Bit Computers Yet? as an example. First, here’s the prompt:
Please convert the following blog post into a friendly script suitable for a YouTube video:
Then copy all the text from the article into the prompt after the colon before submitting it.
Now submit the prompt.
ChatGPT will transform the content accordingly, ensuring it’s engaging, casual, and interactive to suit the YouTube video format. Remember to revise the output to make sure it includes a clear introduction, body, and conclusion, as well as calls-to-action and engagement prompts typical of YouTube content.
How well does this work? Well, I host a small YouTube channel, and for the past few months I’ve been using ChatGPT to convert the blog articles each video is based on into a YouTube script format. This is exactly what I had been doing by hand before, except now it takes seconds rather than an hour or two of my time.
As with the other examples you’ll see below, a major advantage of having ChatGPT transform text rather than generate it, is that you don’t have to worry about it making stuff up that wasn’t in the original text. You still need to quality-control the transformed text, but I have yet to encounter a situation where ChatGPT added anything into my scripts that were not in the original text.
Example 2: Changing a Technical Document Into a Popular Article
Technical documents often involve jargon and complexity that may not be accessible to a general audience. Here, ChatGPT can help.
Prompt ChatGPT as follows:
Please convert the following technical document into a popular article accessible to the general public, with no background in the field:
Now we need some highly-technical information. Why not none other than Albert Einstein? I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t have the smarts to understand Einstein’s work, so why not try it with one of his papers? Specifically, On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies, the 1905 paper that made him famous, where he outlined his Theory of Relativity. You might have heard of that one.
The paper is 24 pages long, so we’ll just put a section into ChatGPT for this exercise.
If you’re a ChatGPT Plus subscriber, you can make use of the beta plugins store, which includes ChatWithPDF, a plugin that lets you load a PDF and then interact with it using ChatGPT. This may be a more efficient way to get complex technical PDFs into the Chatbot.
The resulting output should be a reader-friendly article that conveys the essence of the technical document in simpler terms. Remember that you can prompt ChatGPT to write text at a particular level, such as a specific grade level in school.
Example 3: Turning a Short Story Into a Movie Script
With ChatGPT, you can even turn a short story into a movie script. Input your short story and prompt the model like so:
Please convert the following short story into a movie script, maintaining the essence of the characters and plot.
If we head over to Project Gutenberg, there are many books that are public domain in the USA and many other parts of the world. Its a worthy project that relies on donations, so while you’re visiting and you like what they do, it never hurts to give some support!
For this exercise, we’re going with the ever-dependable Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Anderson. Specifically, The Emperor’s New Suit.
Don’t forget that you can be very specific in your prompt, asking ChatGPT to alter the tone or transform the story somehow. You can also specify what sort of script format you want. For example, a spec script or a shooting script.
While ChatGPT is unlikely to produce something of final usable quality right off the bat, it’s much easier to edit a script than format and write one from scratch. It’s a great way to extract the parts of the story relevant to the script, such as separating dialogue from inner thoughts, or descriptions of locations.
What to Watch Out For
While ChatGPT is a powerful tool, it isn’t infallible. It can sometimes produce errors or generate responses that aren’t entirely accurate. Be prepared to review and revise the output. It’s also important to remember that while ChatGPT can simplify and convert text, it doesn’t inherently understand context.
Use the output of ChatGPT as a first draft and then refine it, using your human judgment to ensure accuracy, context, and quality. Consider ChatGPT a writing assistant rather than a replacement for human creativity and nuance.
ChatGPT offers exciting possibilities for content repurposing, automating some of the work of transforming and simplifying text. While it doesn’t replace the human touch, it makes writing more efficient and interesting. This way you can spend more time being creative, and less time doing simple drudge work.