Building an Intelligent Storytelling App

All it takes is a little bit of training

One of the key factors in building a story development AI like Subtxt Muse is making sure that it doesn’t use its generalized training data in defining the narrative structures of completed works.

For instance, here’s an example where I asked Muse what was the MC Problem and Solution for Christopher Nolan’s film, Memento:

In "Memento," the Main Character Problem for Leonard Shelby is his "ability." Leonard's condition, which prevents him from forming new memories, is the source of his difficulties. His unique ability to function despite his memory loss drives his relentless pursuit of revenge, but it also makes him vulnerable to manipulation and deception. His condition forces him to rely on a system of notes, tattoos, and Polaroid pictures to maintain a semblance of continuity in his investigation, but this system is inherently flawed and subject to manipulation by others.

The Main Character Solution for Leonard is "desire." The narrative suggests that if Leonard were to embrace the desire to move on from his wife's murder and to stop living in a loop of vengeance, he might find some form of peace or resolution. However, Leonard's story is a tragedy in that he never truly adopts this solution. Instead, he remains trapped in his cycle of revenge, driven by the belief that he must find and punish his wife's killer to give his life meaning, despite the fact that his condition makes it impossible for him to know if he has already achieved his goal.

In essence, Leonard's story is a "Stop" story, where he should stop relying on his flawed system of coping with his disability (his "ability") and instead start embracing a new desire that could lead to personal growth and change. However, the film's structure and Leonard's own choices prevent this solution from being realized, leaving him caught in an endless pursuit fueled by his problem of "ability."

Outside of Subtxt and previous to recent fine-tunings, the AI would respond that Leonard does evolve from being hampered by Ability to his “Solution” of Desire (the MC Problem is Ability, the MC Solution is Desire).

The reason the AI would respond this way is because in general terms, Problem indicates a starting position and Solution indicates a stopping position. For stories where the Main Character Resolve is Changed (like Casablanca or The Lion King) this works great. But for stories where the Main Character Resolve is Steadfast (like The Abyss or like Memento) the response would be inaccurate and would only confuse the user even more.

The above response from Muse is perfect: based on what it knows from my training, the Steadfast Resolve of Leonard means he never fully embraces that Desire.

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