Alchemy Announces the Fall 2023 WRITE LIKE A HUMAN Contest!

In 2011, after attending an annual Turing test competition, journalist Brian Christian wrote:

“I think that while the first year that computers pass the Turing test will certainly be a historic one, it will not mark the end of the story. Indeed, the next year’s Turing test will truly be the one to watch—the one where we humans, knocked to the canvas, must pull ourselves up; the one where we learn how to be better friends, artists, teachers, parents, lovers; the one where we come back. More human than ever.”

Arguably this is the contest that faces a writer in 2023, as we confront ChatGPT and other Large-Language-Model AI programs. We know they can write well enough to be mistaken for a human, but that doesn’t mean they are impressive. Clarifying what we have to offer as humans has never been more urgent.

That’s why Alchemy, the FHASS faculty newsletter, is running a creative writing contest for students: the Write Like a Human contest. The contest is open to any interested Sheridan student. There are two ways to enter:

  1. Go head-to-head with a LLM (like ChatGPT). First, select a prompt that you think might generate an interesting piece of creative writing. It can be anything, from “write a 1000 word flash story about a murderous turtle” to “write a poem in the style of Robert Frost about nudists.” (These are obviously silly examples: you are encouraged to create a prompt that describes a piece you would actually want to write.) Once you select the prompt, you must ask ChatGPT (or a similar program) to do the prompt first. Your task is then to do it yourself, bringing your creativity, whimsy, and love of words to the table.

NOTE: You should submit both your work and the AI’s work alongside each other. Make sure you indicate clearly which part of the submission is the AI’s attempt, and which is yours! Don’t let them bleed together; your aim is to demonstrate your value by making something entirely your own.

  • 2. Alternately, write a piece (whether fiction, non-fiction, or poetry) in which both a human and an AI figure as characters. Whether you’re interested in contrasting humans with AI, demonstrating some convergence between them, or anything in between, write something in which the line separating human from AI is explored.

Submissions should be under 2000 words, including any AI-written portion. Multiple submissions are acceptable.

You are welcome to share and discuss prompts with other students, or to email Glenn Clifton ( if you have questions about the process or want help refining a prompt.

PRO TIP: LLM’s are predictive text models. They provide an average answer. Your own work is more likely to diverge from what an AI can do the more unpredictable, whimsical, joyous, incorrect, and deviant you can make it. If we are to survive, we must love what we do. (If you’re interested, you might have a look at Ian Bogost’s article, which begins by demonstrating how boring ChatGPT’s words are when set against his own.)

Alchemy will publish a winner and some runners-up, depending on space and the number of submissions. You may also be asked to go through an editing process with the Alchemy editors.

Submissions will be due November 17, and can be sent to