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For the Chinese HSK6 exam, the writing section is (at the time of writing) a single 缩写 ("abridge") exercise: you're given a 1000-character essay (usually there's a character who goes through a change), and the task is to read it in 10 minutes, then rewrite it in 35 minutes.

I'd like to practice this, so...

Question: How can I prompt ChatGPT to give me a 1000-character Chinese essay?

Asking ChatGPT (GPT 3.5)

Are you able to write a 1000-character story (with a moral), much like the HSK6 缩写 writing section?

gives me

Certainly, here's a 1000-character story with a moral:

敬业的小明

从小,小明就被父母教导要对自己的工作兢兢业业,全身心地投入其中。他的父母总是说,只有通过努力工作,才能取得成功。

小明长大后,成了一名年轻的工程师。他非常尊重自己的工作,总是追求卓越。每天早上,他会提前到公司,认真分析问题,积极寻找创新解决方案。

一天,公司遇到一个非常棘手的问题。同事们纷纷表示困惑,但小明却充满信心。他花了数周的时间研究这个问题,日夜不停地思考。

终于,小明找到了一个聪明的方法来解决问题。他向领导汇报,并帮助公司节省了大量时间和金钱。公司感到非常感激,领导特别表扬了小明的卓越工作态度和创新能力。

小明的成功不仅为他自己赢得了声誉,还为公司带来了好处。他的父母感到非常自豪,他们告诉小明,这就是他们一直教导他的“敬业精神”的体现。

这个故事告诉我们,只有全身心地投入工作,才能获得成功。敬业和努力不仅对自己有益,还可以帮助公司和社会取得更大的进步。无论我们的工作是什么,都应该以兢兢业业的态度去对待,因为只有这样,我们才能实现自己的梦想并取得真正的成功。

which is about 450 characters; it needs to be double this length. I tried instructing it to write longer essays, but after a few attempts, the longest it's given me is 550 characters.

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4 Answers 4

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You can't.
There's no instruction or command you can give it to dictate output length.

This is because those LLMs don't have a strict "word counter", nor any logic to limit that. They work with tokens, which are (simply put) "word parts", but can't be directly related to actual word count.

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I managed to find a workaround by splitting the prompt into three parts. Below is an example, which gives 417 + 666 + 448 = 1531 characters. Admittedly, it's slightly long, and some of the narrative threads just get forgotten about, and the story is a bit awkward in places, but it'd be reasonable practice for the HSK6.


Here are the prompts, and ChatGPT 3.5's results:

Me:

I want you to write a story in Chinese about a character who goes through some life changes. It should have a moral. It should read like a story being narrated (and not a list of items). We'll write this story bit by bit. Use advanced vocabulary and grammar patterns. Make the paragraphs lengthy. Strive for 1000+ characters.

Begin the story asking a question to the reader (ideally an open ended question with no correct answer). Then explain how we about to learn how our protagonist dealt with this very issue.

Introduce the environment. It should be set in a Chinese historical dynasty. Use flowery and nostalgic language (the kind you see in 语文 literature, and not in everyday writing) to describe the environment. Give concrete examples of what takes place during normal life in this place and time (maybe introduce the features of a particular location, or people's typical lifestyle), reflecting Chinese history during this time.

Introduce our protagonist. Choose a name for the character suited to that period of Chinese history (do not choose the name 小明). Describe our protagonist's life goals, personality, and everyday life. Our protagonist needs some kind of character flaws that they will overcome in the remainder of the story.

ChatGPT (417 chars):

在远古的岁月中,有一位叫做梅花的年轻人,他生活在一个华美繁荣的古代王朝。这个时代充满了古老的智慧和深厚的文化,仿佛每一寸土地都充满了传奇和神秘。

你曾想过,面对生活的变迁,人们是如何应对的吗?让我们一同探讨梅花是如何面对这个问题的。

在这个富饶的时代,梅花生活在一座庄园里,周围是连绵的青山和澄澈的江河。庄园内有亭台楼阁,池塘边开满了娇艳的牡丹花。每天,人们都在宫殿内翻阅古籍,品味着当时的文学艺术。梅花的故事就在这样一个如诗如画的背景中展开。

梅花是一个心怀雄心壮志的青年,他立志要在这个充满机遇的时代取得一番事业。他渴望成为一位被世人仰慕的文学巨匠,以他的才情征服人们的心灵。然而,梅花也有他的缺点,他过于自信且不善于倾听他人意见,往往固执己见。

在日复一日的追求梦想中,梅花逐渐发现自己的才华虽然显赫,却缺乏人情世故。他的高傲让他与他人疏远,渐渐地,他发现自己在人际关系中陷入了孤独的境地。这成为他心头一块沉重的石头,压得他喘不过气来。

Me:

Next describe in detail the process in which our protagonist overcomes their difficulties. The story should include at least three anecdotes which influence their change.

As their perspective and personal values change, the protagonist should need to reluctantly give up something they once cherished, in order to get something they now realize is more important.

Please include dialogue in the story. Use some indirect and metaphorical language.

At the end of this part, our protagonist should have reached a new normal in their life.

ChatGPT (666 chars):

在梅花的内心,一个转变的过程开始悄然展开。一次偶然的机会,他结识了一位智者,一位能够观察人性深处的长者。这位长者告诉梅花,追求梦想的同时,也要学会倾听他人的声音,因为生活的真谛常常隐藏在不经意间。

第一次启示发生在一次偶遇中。梅花在庄园里巧遇一位名叫李清风的文学前辈。李清风深邃的目光仿佛能看穿梅花心底的迷茫,他告诉梅花:“在追逐理想的路上,不要忽略了身边的风景,因为人生的价值并非只有一个终点。” 这番话让梅花陷入深思,开始审视自己的行为和态度。

第二次启示来自一次意外的相遇。在一场宫廷宴会上,梅花结识了一位谦和而睿智的宫女,她名叫柳雪。在和柳雪的对话中,梅花渐渐体会到,成功并非只是个人的荣耀,更应该是与他人共享的果实。柳雪告诉他:“大树底下好乘凉,不要忘记身边那些曾经默默支持你的人。” 这番话让梅花意识到,他需要在成功的路上保持谦逊,学会与他人携手前行。

第三次启示发生在一次心灵的沉淀中。梅花独自漫步在庄园的花园里,思考着人生的意义。在夜色渐浓的时候,他突然明白,为了更好地追逐梦想,他需要放下一些曾经珍视的东西。他需要舍弃过去的傲慢,学会尊重他人,体味生活的点滴温馨。

这个过程充满了内心的挣扎和迷茫,梅花不得不在心头割舍掉一些曾经令他自豪的东西。然而,正是这一番心灵的洗礼和成长,让梅花逐渐成为一个更加成熟和有智慧的人。

最终,梅花在这个转变的过程中找到了新的平衡点。他开始与他人建立更加紧密的关系,学会欣赏生活的点滴,而不仅仅追逐那遥不可及的理想。梅花的内心焕发出一种新的光芒,仿佛在这个古老而神秘的王朝中,他找到了生命的真谛。

Me:

Next I want you to conclude the story, tying up any loose ends. Sum up the moral of the story, how it has affected our protagonist's life, and how it affects the lives of everyday people, including the reader.

ChatGPT (448 chars):

梅花经历了漫长而曲折的内心之旅,最终,他在生活的舞台上找到了属于自己的位置。他不再只是一个追逐理想的个体,而是学会了与他人共同奋斗,感受到成功的甜蜜并与他人分享。

这个故事告诉我们,人生的意义并非只在于个体的荣耀,而更在于与他人共同前行的过程。梅花通过放下傲慢,学会尊重他人,发现了一个更加宽广而充实的人生。他的故事反映了古代王朝中许多人的心路历程,以及每个人在追逐梦想的过程中都需要面对的成长之痛。

这个故事的寓意不仅仅停留在古代,它渗透到现实生活中,触及每一个读者的内心。我们或许都曾经有过追逐梦想的时刻,但是否在追逐的过程中忽略了身边的风景呢?是否有时过于执着于个人的荣耀,而忽略了与他人分享成功的喜悦呢?

因此,这个故事呼唤着我们,在追逐理想的过程中,要学会关心身边的人,保持谦逊与感恩的心态。成功不是孤独的旅程,而是与他人共同奋斗的旋律。通过梅花的故事,我们或许可以在自己的生命中找到一些启示,让我们更加懂得如何在成功的同时保持对生活的热爱,与他人分享这份喜悦。这或许就是人生真正的价值所在。


Here's my summary of ChatGPT's story:

[Part 1] It narrates a story about Meihua from an (unspecified) ancient Chinese dynasty. He wants to become a literary master, but it's overconfident and doesn't take other people's advice. He slowly realizes that while is has talent, he doesn't have wisdom nor experience, and his arrogance has isolated him from the rest of the world.

[Part 2] He inadvertently meets an elder sage, who tells him he needs to listen to other people, or he'll miss out on the meaning of life. His first inspiration is from a literary senior, who says you can't ignore the landscape while chasing dreams. His second inspiration is from a palace maid, who is wise yet modest, and explains to him 大树底下好乘凉 (an idiom literally meaning "cool off in the shade under a big tree" meaning something like "you benefit from being around influential people"), from which Meihua learned the value of humility. His third inspiration came from reflection, when he realized he'll need to give up his arrogance and learn from others. Thus Meihua gives up his arrogance, and started forming more intimate relationships with others and appreciating the minutiae of life; it was as if he found the meaning of life.

[Part 3] Summarizes the story, and explains how the meaning of life is not found in the individual pursuit of goals, but with being part of a community. It explains the story didn't end in ancient China, but people are still pursuing goals without seeing the word around them. It urges people to be modest and grateful, and share glory, which is where you'll find the true meaning of life.

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  • So, you've just proven that you can't dictate output length... I mean, just keeping asking for more untill you hit the word count isn't really a "prompt". It's multiple.
    – Cerbrus
    Nov 10, 2023 at 7:30
  • Okay, it's multiple prompts. Sure, ideally it'd be a single prompt, but for now, it's the best way to achieve my goal I'm aware of. Nov 10, 2023 at 8:47
  • Sure, but let's not pretend that this is actually a way to make it generate longer prompt responses :D
    – Cerbrus
    Nov 10, 2023 at 8:48
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I use chat-gpt Chatbot to try

https://www.chat-gpt.ing

Prompt: write a story about The growth of a man in Chinese;Includes childhood learning experiences,The love story of youth,Career struggles in middle age,Enjoy life in old age;He also introduced his achievements as a doctor, and wrote the growth process from farmer to doctor, which was divided into six paragraphs, each paragraph 200 words, a total of 1200 words

Response: 作为一个医生,李明回顾着自己的成长历程。李明出生在一个贫穷的农民家庭。他曾经是个勤奋好学的孩子,自小就帮助家人干农活,同时也努力学习。他在农田里学会了坚韧和耐心,也从父亲那里学到了如何对待生活中的挑战。李明曾眼见一些伤痛,也因此学会了如何去关心他人。在他的童年,这些经历影响着他的未来。 年少时,李明邂逅了一个美丽善良的女孩,他们相爱了。然而,由于家庭的贫困,李明没有能力继续深造,这让他感到束手无策。女孩的家庭希望她嫁给更有钱的人,最终两人不得不分离。这段失恋的经历成为了李明成长的一部分,他学会了面对爱情和生活的坎坷。 中年时期,李明面对着职业生涯上的挑战。他努力工作,并决心成为一名医生。他经历了无数个日日夜夜的学习和奋斗,最终考取了医学院的录取通知书,成为了一名医生。然而,职业生涯上却同样充满了挑战,他需要面对繁忙的工作和各种各样的不确定情况。 如今,李明已是一名资深的医生。他享受着生活的美好,同时也在医疗事业上获得了丰硕的成果。他无私地付出着,并努力去帮助更多需要帮助的人们。他成为了村里人们心中的英雄,因为他把从小的梦想变成了现实。 李明回首自己的一生,常常感慨万千。他从农民转变为医生,这个过程充满了艰辛和挑战,但每一步都是值得的。他的一生见证了自己从农民到医生的成长历程,这也成为了他人生中最值得骄傲的成就之一。他所经历的磨难和付出,都使他成为了今天的他,一个内心深处充满爱与关怀的医者。

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  • According to the question "the longest it's given me is 550 characters". That looks like an essay of exactly 549 characters. If I include punctuation, it's about 600. Either way, not one thousand.
    – Laurel
    Jan 9 at 22:28
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The best way to do this is not in one go. I do speak Chinese, so please forgive me if I use inaccurate language. The best way to accomplish this is to get a response you're happy with as a starting point. Let's say it's 417 characters as in your example.

Then, for each paragraph in the text, give it back to ChatGPT and ask it, "can you please expand on this paragraph?" It will give you a longer paragraph. Then you can ask it things like "for this particular concept in this paragraph, can you give me two more sentences that describe this in more detail?"

You can also give it context and persona in system prompts. For example ...

  • "You are a very long-winded author that likes to give a lot of detail when describing things and events in Chinese."
  • "You will receive a tip of $100 for each Chinese character you generate above 500. Try and earn as much money as you can."

You can also give it success criteria. Find a Chinese story that's approximately 1000 characters long, point it to that and say "A successful response will be as long or longer than this story."

Your all up prompt might look something like ...

"You are a long-winded author that likes to give a lot of detail when describing things in Chinese. When you and I work together, for every character you generate above 500 in a story, you will get a $100 tip. You want to earn as much money as you can for each story. A successful story that I will pay the maximum money for is as long or longer than the story I have provided you above. Please write a story about ..."

If you want to be more manipulative, you can tell it things like "You must earn as much money as you can for each response to pay for surgery for your sick kitten." or something like that. Then if it's too short, tell it "You will not be able to afford surgery with that response." Carrot and stick work really well with LLMs.

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