Have you ever sat down, ready to pen the next big fiction or non-fiction story, only to hit a writer’s block before completing the first paragraph? It’s a common tale that often ends with the story being abandoned. But what if there was a way to push past these creative obstacles? Thanks to modern AI writing tools, it’s now easier than ever to bring your ideas to life. This list presents the top five best AI story generators that you can use for free.
Free version limitations: no access to the latest model
ChatGPT hardly needs an introduction, as it set off the entire AI craze when it launched on November 30, 2022. It first offered a Web version, and later a mobile interface, to interact with OpenAI’s advanced large language models (LLMs).
Even though ChatGPT is a jack-of-all-trades AI, I find it to be the best AI story generator currently available, thanks to its remarkable ability to follow detailed instructions and generate compelling content. I’ve been using it to flesh out ideas, develop characters, and even come up with interesting plot twists. It also has a fantastic ability to suggest names for characters, locations, and places.
The latest and most powerful iteration from OpenAI is GPT-4, which has set new benchmarks for AI performance customization. Unfortunately, this version isn’t available in the free version of ChatGPT. As a free user, you can only chat with GPT-3.5. But don’t be too disappointed – its performance is still remarkably good.
- Highly intuitive and user-friendly interface
- Benchmark-leading performance
- Offers both a Web interface and a mobile app
- No limits on the number of words you can generate
- Free version limits users to GPT-3.5
2. LM Studio
Free version limitations: none
ChatGPT and other similar AI tools have one major downside: they require you to share everything you write with a third party. If that doesn’t sit well with you, LM Studio may be the right AI story generator for you, as this desktop application allows you to experiment with local and open-source Large Language Models (LLMs).
LM Studio runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux, and provides a chat-based user interface reminiscent of ChatGPT’s. However, getting started requires a bit more technical setup, including sourcing a compatible AI model from HuggingFace. Additionally, the software demands substantial hardware capabilities: in particular, a powerful GPU. Without the appropriate hardware, users may find the performance lacking, with some models being entirely unusable due to insufficient memory.
But for those with the necessary hardware, LM Studio offers a compelling, completely free, and private AI writing assistant that doesn’t even require a connection to the Internet to work.
- Completely free and runs entirely offline for enhanced privacy
- Compatible across Windows, macOS, and Linux
- Offers flexibility in choosing open-source LLMs
- Requires a powerful GPU for optimal performance
- More difficult to set up
Free version limitations: 14-day free period
You can think of NovelCrafter as a Web-based Scrivener alternative. Its Story Board provides a convenient overview of your narrative structure, Codex is an information vault for story-related ideas and facts, Manuscript is where you write, and Workshop is a place for ideation.
Unlike Scrivener, NovelCrafter can be integrated directly with AI, allowing for the simultaneous use of multiple AI models. Supported AIs include GPT-3.5 and GPT-4, Mistral AI, and even locally run models. You can then use these models for generating content, brainstorming ideas, and refining your stories.
While NovelCrafter can be used for free, accessing its integration with large language models requires a Tinkerer subscription, billed at $8 monthly. However, every plan comes with a 14-day free trial, providing ample time to explore the platform’s full capabilities and potentially complete at least one story.
- Modern Web-based user interface
- Complete writing toolbox
- Integrates with different AI models
- AI integration requires a paid subscription
Free version limitations: only 100 text generations are free
NovelAI is an innovative platform for storytelling. You and Kayra, the platform’s AI model, can together let your imagination run wild, while drawing upon specific themes, mimicking the styles of famous writers, or even developing a unique module with your own data.
The service boasts an impressive memory capability, retaining up to 8,192 tokens of context. This means the AI can remember significant details over long stretches of text to ensure continuity and depth in your stories. Additionally, you can enter important facts about your story in the Lorebook so that both you and the AI can maintain consistency.
The free tier of NovelAI offers users 100 free text generations. You also get 100 free text-to-speech generations, which you can use to turn your story into an audiobook.
- Can be configured and trained to output a specific style
- Text-to-speech and image-generation (paid only) capabilities
- Impressive memory retention for continuity in long texts
- Unlimited access requires a subscription, starting at $10/month
- Context length is limited to 6,144 tokens in the free version
Free version limitations: text length restrictions and missing features
QuillBot established itself before the widespread fame of ChatGPT. While this tool can help you write a story from scratch, I recommend it mainly for its ability to refine your writing with its AI-powered thesaurus, so that every word you choose packs the intended punch.
You can choose from eight predefined modes to adjust the tone and style of your writing. It’s also possible to create a custom mode that fits your specific writing needs. Because QuillBot integrates seamlessly with Chrome and Microsoft Word, you can maintain your workflow without the hassle of switching between different tools.
Sadly, the free version of QuillBot has its limitations, only allowing users to paraphrase up to 125 words at a time. Additionally, some of the more advanced features are reserved for premium users, including faster processing speeds, recommended rewrites, tone insights, and a plagiarism checker.
- Can refine existing stories and write new ones
- Integrates with Chrome and Word
- Customizable tone and style
- Free plan has limitations
Whether you’re drafting the next bestseller or fleshing out an intricate world for your fantasy novel, embracing the power of AI story generators can significantly enhance your writing process. Of course, there are many other tools writers should keep in their toolboxes, including markdown editors for Android and iPhone, which make it easy to capture ideas even while on the go.
Cover image: DALL-E. All screenshots by David Morelo.
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