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Creating content with AI: a practical guide to writing prompts that work

WebSite X5
Published by Incomedia in Guides and Tips · Friday 08 Mar 2024
I'd like to do a little experiment by asking how many of you have tried using an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system to generate text or create an image from scratch. I bet many of you will raise your hands.

But if I asked how many of you were fully satisfied with the quality of the text or image you received back from AI, I bet a lot of hands would go down.

Yet more and more companies are relying on AI for business, campaigns and creativity. What do they know that most people don't know about getting quality results in a short time?

The answer is easy. They've figured out how to write effective prompts for generative AI.

Writing a prompt is the equivalent of finding the right words to express your wish to a genie in a bottle or to cast a spell. If you don't do it correctly, it's difficult to get the desired result, and you'll begin to view AI as a tool with no real value.

So how do you write a good prompt? Actually, it's pretty simple. Just stick to some practical rules that we'll take a look at together.

What's an AI prompt?

To understand how to write a good prompt, we first need to know what exactly it is.

In simple words, a prompt is the request you give to AI. The good thing is that with AI, you can speak in your natural language, just like you would with a friend. You don't need to learn any specific language or even how to program. You simply need to ask for what you want in a clear and concise way.

Prompts are textual instructions written in natural language that express a request for guiding AI in the generation of content.

The trick to writing a good prompt is finding the right words. You need to be specific but not overly restrictive. And above all, you need to understand that any variation can significantly influence the quality and relevance of AI's response. Let's go into detail and see how it's done.

From “meh” prompts to “wow” prompts

Now that we have a basic understanding of what a prompt is, it's time to explore what makes it effective. The difference between a mediocre prompt and one that really works magic is surprising, and it's all in the formulation.

A "meh" prompt might look something like this:
“Write a paragraph about cats.”

Yes, it's clear, but it lacks inspiration and details that could make the generated text more engaging.

Now, let's turn this prompt into a "wow" prompt:
"Imagine you are a curious cat exploring a world of enchanted toys. Describe your adventures and the strange creatures you encounter along the way."

Do you notice the difference? In the second prompt, there's an embedded narration, an intriguing context and a stimulus for creativity. An effective prompt should be like the first chapter of a novel, inviting AI to dive into a world of possibilities.

Here's another example to make the concept even more concrete:

"Meh" prompt:
"Provide an overview of the history of modern art."

"Wow" prompt:
"Imagine you are a guide accompanying a traveler who has just gone back in time. Describe the thrill of showing him or her great modern works of art, along with the traveler's reactions."

In summary, the magic of an effective prompt lies in its ability to inspire, provide context and spark creativity on the part of AI. Experiment with intriguing ideas, and you'll see how your generated texts will go from ordinary to extraordinary.

Syntax of a winning prompt

Let's take a step further to refine the prompt's structure and maximize the effectiveness of the generated text.

Think of the prompt as a map. It should be clear, detailed and orienting, but at the same time, it should leave room for creative exploration. To further define things, follow these practical syntax tips for prompts:

  • Be clear and concise: Make sure your prompt avoids ambiguities which could be confusing to AI. Also avoid unnecessary details. A concise prompt tends to produce more focused results.

  • Provide context: Explain the situation or environment you'd like AI to immerse itself in. For example, instead of saying, "Write a dialogue", you could say, "Imagine two friends meeting after many years. Come up with a conversation that's full of emotion and surprises."

  • Use Keywords: Enter keywords into the prompt that are central to your theme. For example, if you're asking about technology, incorporate relevant terms like "artificial intelligence," "emerging technology" and "digital innovation."

  • Provide rules, constraints and examples: If you say exactly what you want or don't want, while also providing examples, you reduce the risk that AI will misinterpret your request. For example, instead of saying, "Write a post about a travel destination", you could say, "Imagine you are a traveler arriving on the island of Giglio. Tell us about your adventures, focusing on the natural aspects. Write a 1,000-word article in the style of (author's name)."

Here's an example of a well-structured prompt:
“Imagine you are a detective in a dystopian future. You have just discovered a mysterious high-tech object in the heart of the city. Write a detailed description of this item and your initial reaction."

This prompt is clear, provides intriguing context and contains relevant keywords. In short, it has everything needed for AI to produce an engaging text.

Ask the right questions

You may not realize it right away, but questions can also play a crucial role in writing an effective prompt. In fact, questions are not just requests for information; they can serve as creative levers, pushing AI to explore new directions.

We suggest using questions in the prompts to:

  • Stimulate an in-depth look: Use questions to push AI to delve into more detail. For example, instead of directly saying, "Describe a landscape", you might ask, "How would a painter view this landscape? Describe the details you'd capture on canvas.”

  • Exploring emotions: If you want more emotionally-charged texts, ask AI to explore the feelings involved. For example, "Tell a story of unexpected joy. Describe the details that make this joy so special."

  • Guiding the development of the text: Plan for multiple questions to guide the development of the text. For example, "What could the title of a post be regarding the benefits of SEO? How could the content outline be organized?”

With the right questions, you can steer AI in the direction you want. Experiment a bit, see how the responses take shape and find your own style, even while writing prompts.

Avoid traps

As we've already mentioned, writing a good prompt is a matter of word choice, but it's also a balance between clarity and creativity. Sometimes it's easy to stumble into traps that compromise the quality of the AI-generated response.

First, you'll need to avoid ambiguity and contradiction. Unclear or inconsistent information can end up confusing AI to the detriment of the quality of the text generated. On the other hand, providing too much detail can be a negative as well. In this case, the risk lies in excessively limiting AI's scope when, instead, leaving a certain degree of freedom might lead to better results. Finally, you'll need to avoid asking too many things in one prompt. In this instance, it's much better to break down complex requests into simpler prompts for clearer results.

Remember, clarity and consistency are key when writing a prompt. Try to imagine the process from the other side, as if you were giving instructions to a friend. If your request is understandable and inspiring, there's a high probability that AI will respond with equally engaging text.

Exploring creative possibilities

Now that you've become familiar with writing effective prompts, it's time to unleash your creative streak and experiment with different styles and tones to discover the vast spectrum of possibilities offered by Artificial Intelligence in terms of text generation.

There are many variables you can play with. For example, you can try requesting texts in different narrative styles. You might use a prompt for an adventure narrative, one for a humorous dialogue, or one for a poetic description. Or you can vary the tone of your prompt and find that a playful one may generate lighter, funnier texts, while a serious one might lead to more thoughtful responses.

It certainly might be worth asking AI to write from alternative points of view. You might ask it to tell a story from the point of view of an animal, an object, or even an abstract concept. Finally, you can experiment with different literary genres by requesting fantasy, scientific, romantic or science fiction texts. This will allow you to discover how AI adapts to different styles and contexts.

The appeal of AI lies in its ability to adapt and create in ways that may surprise you. Don't be afraid to experiment with enthusiasm and an open mind, and you'll soon discover that your interaction with AI can become quite the creative adventure.

Test, modify and repeat

At this point, you understand that in order to get the best out of Artificial Intelligence, you must be ready to test, evaluate, modify and try again. Over time, you will gain experience and refine your prompt writing techniques, thus achieving optimal results more quickly.

Remember, however, that AI-generated texts are not set in stone. You can decide that they are perfect as they are, copy them and use them in your official communications. Or you might decide to use them as simple ideas, ladders or more or less elaborate outlines on which to graft your edits. In this case, the content generated will be the result of a "four-handed" approach between you and AI.

You are the director. AI will simply be a trusty helper that allows you to speed up the creation process and improve the quality of your content, in terms of texts and more.

In closing

Congratulations! You're officially on the path to becoming a master in the art of creating AI prompts!

At this point, whatever generative Artificial Intelligence system you find yourself using, it'll be easier if you can manage it in the best way possible. For example, by using MagicText, the text generation assistant available in WebSite X5, it'll be child's play, considering that it already guides you in composing the prompts by offering a few choices.

Whether you decide to use MagicText to help create all the text you need to develop a website, blog or e-commerce site, or if you prefer other services for generating content, you now know how to formulate your requests, so you'll have a better chance of being satisfied.

Ready to make a wish?

P.S. Who better than AI to know how to write prompts for AI? Here's another good reason - this post was written with its help!

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