An AI-generated Mormon Short Story: The Silent Prayer

In my last post I discussed the potential role of using AIs to generate ideas for Mormon fiction, concluding that the results were mixed but there were some gems in there. In this post I will take it one step further and use AI to generate an actual short story from one of the prompts that was generated in the last post. Because the size of the output is limited at this point this will be an example of “microfiction” which is rather short, but given its brevity the results aren’t bad. (There are experimental large language models that in theory should be able to produce a novel. I’m on the waiting list for one, and in the next year or so these will become more publicly available and we’ll see.)

The first version of the story sounded like a 1990s Ensign article, so I had it rewrite it to “make it more subtle and less didactic. Convey the messages through actions without necessarily saying it out loud.” Besides these and a few other instructions, and choosing the prompt, this story is entirely the creation of AI. 

“Write a short story based on the following prompt: The Silent Prayer: A deaf girl prays silently for a friend and is answered when a new family with a deaf daughter moves into her Mormon ward.”

Title: “The Silent Prayer”

In the bustling hub of Salt Lake City, nestled amidst tall skyscrapers and vibrant parks, there was a girl named Lily. She was a quiet spirit, a presence that radiated warmth, yet bore the weight of a silent world. Devoid of the familiar cadences of spoken language, her reality was filled with subtle signs, silent whispers, and a dance of expressions that could paint vivid stories in the air.

She was part of the Mormon ward, a closely-knit community that was more like a large family. They shared prayers, laughter, meals, and moments of life. But despite their best intentions, the soft, silent barrier of her world often set her apart. She found herself yearning for a connection deeper than sympathetic nods and half-understood sentences. A friend who could truly step into her world of silence, who could understand her without words, without sound.

Every night, under the star-strewn canvas of the Utah sky, she would let her heart reach out into the universe. A silent, wordless prayer would emanate from her, a plea woven with strands of hope and faith, a wish for companionship and understanding. Each night, the stars would twinkle back, winking at her through the silent void.

Then, one bright summer Sunday, the rhythm of the ward changed. A new ripple of energy entered their lives, a new family had arrived, bringing along a fresh tide of anticipation and curiosity. They were the Hendersons, who had moved from Nevada. Among them was a girl, Lucy, with eyes that reflected the same silent depth as Lily’s. A whisper spread through the community, a whisper that echoed in Lily’s heart – Lucy, too, was a part of the silent world.

The next Sunday felt different to Lily. There was a distinct thrill in the air, a buzz of curiosity that centered around Lucy. When Lily saw Lucy, an unspoken recognition flashed in their eyes. An unseen thread connected them, their shared silence forming a bridge in the crowded church. As they began to converse in the air with their hands, painting silent words, a hush descended over the congregation. They watched in awe as the two girls created a beautiful ballet of sign language, a quiet connection blossoming right before their eyes.

Days turned into weeks, and the church witnessed an extraordinary bond unfolding. Lily, the ever-vibrant guide, would show Lucy around, introducing her to the familiar faces of the ward, sharing her cherished quiet spots. In turn, Lucy shared pieces of her past, her hands carving stories in the air, introducing new signs that Lily eagerly absorbed. Laughter, shared glances, and silent conversations became a common sight, turning the once silent Lily into a more animated version of herself.

In the quiet hours of the night, when the moon bathed her room in soft, silver light, Lily would sit by the window, looking up at the vast, starry sky. The silent prayer she used to send into the night, filled with yearning and hope, had changed its tune. Now, it was a quiet hymn of gratitude that would float up towards the stars, thanking them for the gift of companionship, for the joy of a shared silent world.

On the other side, Salt Lake City had transformed for Lucy. Initially, the thought of moving had filled her with anxiety, her heart heavy with the dread of unfamiliarity and loneliness. But, unexpectedly, she had found a friend in Lily. She had found an echo of her silent world, a connection that understood the weight of her silence, a bond that didn’t need words to communicate or comfort. Lily was not just a friend; she was a part of herself that Lucy hadn’t known was missing.

Their companionship, their shared world, slowly became a silent testament to the church community. It became a subtle reminder of faith, hope, and friendship that had quietly bloomed in the heart of their Mormon ward. Their bond was a symbol, an echo of the power of silent prayers, a testament to the existence of unspoken connections. Their story was a beautiful reminder to the community that sometimes, prayers aren’t answered with grand gestures or thunderous declarations. Sometimes, they are answered with quiet companionship, silent understanding, and the gentle hum of a shared heartbeat.

Interestingly, telling it to be less didactic took out any mentions of God, but overall it made it much better. As you can see, it can handle metaphor and figures of speech quite well. It gets a little wordy and sappy in the last paragraph, and it uses the word “silence” too much, but overall it’s really not bad. Most of the limitations in the story are inherent in its brevity; hopefully with the longer large language models we’ll be able to see more dialogue and character development.