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  • Writer's pictureHarshal

Make ChatGPT Write In Your Style, Your Tone: Step-By-Step Guide

Save Time Writing And Editing: Train ChatGPT On Your Blog Archive

Have you heard about speeding up your writing with ChatGPT? Maybe you've tried it and realized it's a far cry from your tone or style.

I ran dozens of experiments with AI tools, and here is the approach that worked best yet easiest. Here are the steps to use ChatGPT to write in your writing mannerisms by training it. This has saved my time in writing and editing. So, I now go faster from idea to publishing.

I'm grateful to Prince Jain, poet and Software Engineer at Google, for giving me feedback on this post. His ideas helped make this easier to read.

Robot learning to write.
Robot learning to write.

Integrating ChatGPT In Your Writing Process

Making ChatGPT copy my style helps me move faster from outlining to editing. ChatGPT is also useful in speeding up ideation and distribution, but I'll discuss that in another post.

See the 7 steps in my writing process here.

Voice Typing Helps Separate Writing And Editing

“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” – Margaret Atwood

“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” ― Jodi Picoult

It's good to write first, then edit later. Voice typing helps because I can talk out loud, which is quicker for two reasons.

  • First, I can talk faster than typing.

  • Second, it's hard to edit while voice typing. I tend to edit or make visuals while typing.

Bonus that you have less wrist pain! I wrote more on voice typing in my ergonomics and keyboard usage post.

Deciphering Your Writing Mannerisms: Tone And Style

Your style and writing tone together are your writing mannerisms. I learned about writing mannerisms in 4 places, which I’ve detailed here. I had never evaluated my writing before.

Now, I wanted to understand my style on different levels and visualize it on a multi-dimensional axis. I found a list of tones and writing styles via the Superpower ChatGPT browser extension.

Tone and Style options as two pages of a book.
Tone and Style options as two pages of a book.

Tone is the 'voice' or emotional character of your writing. Here are the 22 options for tone you should evaluate your writing against:

  • Authoritative

  • Clinical

  • Concise

  • Cold

  • Confident

  • Cynical

  • Emotional

  • Empathetic

  • Formal

  • Friendly

  • Humorous

  • Informal

  • Ironic

  • Optimistic

  • Pessimistic

  • Persuasive

  • Playful

  • Sarcastic

  • Serious

  • Sympathetic

  • Tentative

  • Warm

Style is your structural and linguistic choices. Here are the 19 options for writing style:

  • Academic

  • Analytical

  • Argumentative

  • Conversational

  • Creative

  • Critical

  • Descriptive

  • Epigrammatic

  • Epistolary

  • Expository

  • Informative

  • Instructive

  • Journalistic

  • Metaphorical

  • Narrative

  • Persuasive

  • Poetic

  • Satirical

  • Technical

But do you know which one of these is yours, and how to ask ChatGPT to emulate your mannerisms?

The Ideal Method To Teach LLM To Mimic Your Mannerisms

ideal method visualized.
ideal method visualized.

You can teach an LLM, like GPT-4 or Claude AI, to copy your writing style. In an ideal world, you first give it links to your blog or social media. It reads everything. Every word, emoji, and alt-text you’ve ever written. This teaches it your style, tone, diction, and voice. For new writing, it will compare your recent blog posts on similar topics and copy that style.

But, I couldn’t just give my blog link ( to an LLM like ChatGPT and expect magic.

I discussed this topic with Aravind Srinivasan, engineer at Google. Aravind suggested training a local LLM on your text. This is the best for copying your style, because it can ingest all of your text.

But, I was daunted by the idea of setting up a local LLM. I wanted to go with a minimum viable product (MVP) approach. I wanted to find an easy approach that anyone reading this can use. I wanted to find a way that anyone can use without knowing about programming or machine learning.

Practical 3-Step Approach To Teach LLM Your Writing Mannerisms

To adapt your ideal teaching process for a Large Language Model (LLM) to a more practical approach, I'll focus on simplifying the steps and using easily accessible tools. The aim is to help you and others effectively teach an LLM your writing style, tone, and mannerisms without needing advanced training in large language models. I used the scaffolding technique explained in my earlier post to build this approach. Here’s a easy way to do it in 3 steps:

  1. Select,

  2. Train, and

  3. Test.

visualized 3 step approach to teach LLM to Mimic your writing mannerisms.
visualized 3 step approach to teach LLM to Mimic your writing mannerisms.

Here are more details on the 3 steps:

  • Pick representative samples from your blog.

2. Train

  • Have the LLM classify each piece’s tone or style.

3. Test

  • Create a prompt that matches your writing.

  • Test the prompt on new voice notes or drafts.

  • Adjust the prompt based on results.

‘Select’: Choosing The Right Samples From Your Blog Archive

Ensure diversity and representativeness in the samples you choose. There are 2 ways:

  1. You can go through your blog posts and take diverse samples.

  2. You can ask ChatGPT to take diverse samples from your blog archive.

Here’s how to do approach 2. Extract these metadata from your blog archive and tabulate it. The more of these you can find easily, the better. You can skip items that are not easy to extract. For example, I skipped the subtitles.

P1, P2, and P3 Priority of metadata pieces from your blog archive to help sample.
P1, P2, and P3 Priority of metadata pieces from your blog archive to help sample.

Top priority (P1) info:

  • Title

Medium Priority (P2) info:

  • Category or tag

  • Published date

Low Priority (P3) info:

  • Subtitle

  • URL

  • Reading time or word count

An easier approach is to pick your most recent 10 posts.

‘Select’: Steps To Export Your Blog Metadata

Use these tools, or equivalent:

  • Linkclump chrome browser extension to extract links. Or equivalent.

  • Notepad++ Find and replace. Can use Vim or Emacs too.

  • ChatGPT to structure the web scrap.

  • Google sheets or MS Excel to tabulate your info.

Linkclump screenshot. Tool logos to help transform all web scraps to a table.
Linkclump screenshot. Tool logos to help transform all web scraps to a table.

Follow these steps to extract a list of your blog posts with their metadata:

  1. Use Linkclump on your website.

  2. Use find-and-replace in Notepad++ to reduce the amount of text, if required. I did this to provide more info per chat (higher info density) to ChatGPT.

  3. Give that to ChatGPT to create a structured table with the columns, as seen in the screenshot above.

  4. Copy and paste the blog archive from your website. Follow steps 2 and 3 to add other info not found by Linkclump.

Here is a sample prompt for ChatGPT:

I will paste a scrap of my website. you should format this and add to the existing table as the top rows. output csv. put each cell in "" .

Prompt for the text copy paste scrap:

extract the date and reading time of each post from this web scrap. convert this to a table. output in csv. put each cell in "".

‘Select’: Sample Your Blog Using ChatGPT

Here are my suggestions to sample your blog, with help from ChatGPT:

  1. Temporal Range: Choose samples across different times. If your writing spans years, select samples from different periods to see the evolution of your mannerisms over time. Prioritize your recent posts over old ones.

  2. Topic Diversity: Ensure your samples cover the range of subjects you usually write about. Different topics often elicit different tones and styles. For example, across coaching, entrepreneurship, consulting, or life hacks for me.

  3. Audience: If your writing targets different audience segments (age groups, professionals, general public, etc.), select samples accordingly. Audience significantly influences tone and style. For example, I write for friends, PMs, and entrepreneurs.

  4. Length and Format: Include both long-form and short-form blog posts, if available. Consider various formats like text, dialogues, bullet points, or narratives, as they have a different writing style.

I asked it to sample once with a time range, and another time with different topics. Then, I mixed these two samples. This helped me pick the ones I wanted by myself.

Sample prompt by reusing ChatGPT’s earlier outputs:

how do I work with ChatGPT to figure out my tone / style? you told me to sample my blogs.

When determining your sample selection for analysis of writing style and tone, it's important to ensure diversity and representativeness in the samples you choose. Here's how you can proceed, depending on the kind of data you're able to provide:

If you provide a list of blog titles, I can help you identify a range of topics and suggest a diverse selection, ensuring that various subjects and content types are included. 

i have a list of about 100 blog titles. i can paste those here for you to review and share some to get variety. 

Shortlist 10 posts using ChatGPT’s help and manual review. For example, here is my list in reverse chronological order with reasoning, publish date, and reading time.

Sample blog extract list with reasoning.
Sample blog extract list with reasoning.

‘Train’: Steps To Train ChatGPT With Your Shortlisted Blog Posts

First, Text Extraction: From each post, extract a few paragraphs. Choose these paragraphs from different post sections (e.g., one from the introduction and one from the body or conclusion) to get a more comprehensive view of your writing style and tone within each piece.

Why not the whole post?

  • My posts are 2,000 words+ and have images. So, I could not paste the entire post, as it will cross the token limit.

  • Some parts of a post confuse ChatGPT. For example, if you have a bunch of ChatGPT, MidJourney, or Python commands in your post.

Second, Writing Mannerisms analysis: Ask ChatGPT to analyze your text extract. Here’s the prompt and example ChatGPT link.

prompt with tone list, style list, and blog post extract.
prompt with tone list, style list, and blog post extract.

I'd like an analysis of the tone and writing style from an excerpt of my blog. Below are lists of potential tones and writing styles. After reviewing the provided paragraphs, please identify:

    One primary tone.

    One secondary tone.

    One primary writing style.

    One secondary writing style.

Let’s approach this systematically.

Interpreting The Results: Visualized Writing Analysis

Here is my sample output from the analysis. Put your data in a spreadsheet and use a pivot table to create these visuals.

30% of my posts are in conversational style, 19% in expository, 15% in instructive, and a mix of analytical, informative, descriptive, and narrative styles.
30% of my posts are in conversational style, 19% in expository, 15% in instructive, and a mix of analytical, informative, descriptive, and narrative styles.

How I used this info:

  • I noticed Expository, Instructive, and Analytical styles were all popular.

  • I ruled out 'Instructive' as I don't want to instruct readers, but rather share my approach.

  • I kept both 'Analytical' and 'Expository'. I'll choose between them based on the context of the writing task.

47% of my posts have a confident tone, 23% informal. My writing also has a mix of formal, authoritative, friendly, and optimistic tones.
47% of my posts have a confident tone, 23% informal. My writing also has a mix of formal, authoritative, friendly, and optimistic tones.

At the end of this ‘Train’ step, I went with ‘Conversational’ and either expository or analytical. Next, I created and tested the prompts.

‘Train’: Describe Your Top 2 Tones and Styles

Ask ChatGPT to define these shortlisted tones and styles based on your writing. ChatGPT prompt below. Replace ‘tone’ with ‘style’ when required. Replace NAME with the tone or style name as required.

extract a bulleted list of all reasonings for NAME writing tone/style. then combine them to explain to me the writing tone/style of this author. just focus on the NAME part and not talk about other tones/styles. make it easy to read. active voice. smaller sentences.

Here are two examples from my analysis. Rest of the results from my analysis are here.

Confident tone:

The author writes with confidence. Their writing showcases a deep understanding of the topic. They share their personal experiences assertively and show a solid belief in their methods. Their storytelling reflects this certainty. 

Expository writing style:

The author actively delves into detailed explanations and analysis rather than just presenting facts. By diving deep into concepts, philosophies, and lifestyle implications, they provide a rich, educational experience. Their writing consistently explains and informs. They highlight challenges faced and solutions used to improve readers’ understanding.

Sample tagging for each blog post. 
Sample tagging for each blog post. 

‘Test’: Translate To A Writing Instruction For ChatGPT

If you’ve done the same exercise, you now have descriptions of your writing tone and style. Now, we convert the description into instruction.

ChatGPT prompt for each tone and style one by one.

if i were to ask chatgpt to emulate this writing style, how would i describe the writing style and instruct chatgpt?

Alternatively, give your two tones and two styles to ChatGPT:

my writing is a mix of these 2 tones and styles. here are the independent explanations / analysis of each on my writing. how do i use this to tell chatgpt how to write / edit in my style?

Here is a combined instruction example from my analysis. Rest of the instructions on my writing mannerisms are here.

Write with a confident yet informal tone, as if you're a knowledgeable friend giving advice. While you delve deep into the topic, maintain a conversational flow, and when possible, use personal anecdotes or experiences. Use direct addresses and explain concepts in detail while keeping the chat friendly and authentic. Think of it as merging a detailed, analytical lecture with a relaxed conversation.

‘Test’: Iterate To Refine The Instruction

Try out the writing style and tone instruction with your drafts or voice notes. Iterate by changing your instruction until the output sounds right for you. Watch out for these things:

  • ChatGPT places high weightage on Informal or formal tone. If your writing seems intensely informal or formal, remove instructions that make it sound formal or informal.

  • Start a new chat when you change your instructions. This makes sure only the new instructions are followed.

  • You can add more instructions based on your needs. For example, if you use voice notes, ask to fix grammar and spelling.

Here are some examples of my trials. I’ve shared all my trials here.

Trial 1 - My first try didn't work well. I used the instruction example in the previous section. The output was too casual. For example, ChatGPT changed an introduction about meal prep into a casual chat.

Alright, pull up a chair, and let's chat about something I know you've been pondering: "What the heck should I be eating on weekdays?" I'm going to pull the curtain back on this mystery, as both a detailed guide and a chatty buddy who's been down this culinary road.

Trial 5 - I changed the instructions a bit. Here's what I ended up with:

Make small modifications to my writing or voice transcription. Use simple words. Repetitive words are acceptable; there's no need for variety. Focus on ease of reading. Use an active voice. Correct grammar and typos.

I want a confident tone. Explain and inform about processes. Highlight challenges and provide detailed solutions. The aim is to not only inform but also enhance the reader's understanding and appreciation of the topic. Stick to the information I've provided. Do not add any new information.

This worked well. Example from my career coaching post:

The recruiter may not know all the details about your job, like product management, but they're good at comparing your answers to the job description.

My advice is to confirm the job details with the recruiter. Only offer times for a call over email after you've obtained this information.

This was my final set of instructions. I’ve used this in 100s of sentences over the past weeks.

Once you're happy with your instructions, save them.

Using ChatGPT For Final Touches On Your Writing

I also found some simple, separate prompts to help finish my posts.

  • Review my post and point out missing parts of it.

  • Review my post and suggest multiple title subtitle ideas with reasoning

  • Review the section headings in this post and suggest improvements with reasoning.

  • If you think there are major improvements to be made by rewriting sentences or headings, or by creating some bulleted list, point it out to me separately and ask me whether I want those changes.

Limitations Of Using ChatGPT In Writing

Even when you follow this method to get your writing style instructions, not everything is perfect. Here are a few drawbacks and gaps.

  • It's hard to tell ChatGPT to skip editing some text, like a quotation or software code. So, either remove quotations or commands when you share with ChatGPT or ignore edits to that section.

  • If my input is too short, like one or two sentences, these instructions don't work well. ChatGPT adds too much extra stuff. It adds fluff.

  • If the input is too long, like 2000 words, ChatGPT makes it too short, like 500 words. This is similar to my experience with writing a personalized illustrated storybook.

  • I don't always use what ChatGPT gives me. I compare it with my input and choose the best parts.

Alternative Approaches to Define Writing Mannerisms

I described writing mannerisms on two axes: tone and writing style. But, there are other ways to describe your writing mannerisms. I discovered another approach that covers many of the same points as tone and style. So, I didn't need to use this method. But if you are curious, you can read about it here.

Next Steps

Here are a few possibilities I am thinking about:

  • Develop a custom GPT. 

  • Craft a Chrome extension.

  • Apply this process to social media posts.

  • Find software that promises to follow your writing style. Test them by using the same shortlisted posts.

I’ll share my learnings as I figure it out.



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