Inspiration without regurgitation
Looks like the breakthrough earlier this week in how Muse responds to the Narrative Framework makes this possible:
In short, throw a story idea in there, ask Muse to reference the thematic structure of an already completed work and voilà: instant story.
And by story, we mean the relationships between items in the narrative: not just a complete regurgitation of the referenced work.
Case in point: the above example, where I wanted to see what it would like if we re-wrote Casablanca, but set it in modern-day Ukraine.
This was the first response:
Can you take the Domains from Casablanca and setup a contemporary romance drama? Set in Ukraine
Certainly, James! Let's use the Domains from Casablanca as a foundation for your contemporary romance drama set in Ukraine. According to my narrative matrix, Casablanca features an Objective Story Domain of Physics and a Main Character Domain of Mind.
Here's how we can apply these Domains to your story:
In the context of your contemporary romance drama set in Ukraine, the Objective Story Domain of Physics could involve the physical activities and situations surrounding the ongoing conflict in the region. This could include the efforts of various characters to navigate the dangers of war, provide humanitarian aid, or even engage in acts of espionage or resistance. The external conflict will revolve around these tangible actions and their consequences.
For the Main Character Domain of Mind, your protagonist could be someone who is internally conflicted by their own beliefs, memories, or emotional state due to the war. Perhaps they are a journalist or a local citizen who is torn between the desire to flee the country and the sense of duty to stay and help others. Their personal journey will explore the psychological impact of the conflict on their life and relationships.
Now, let's set up your contemporary romance drama with these Domains in mind:
Establish the Setting: Begin by introducing the war-torn environment of Ukraine, showcasing the physical struggles and the resilience of the people.
Introduce the Main Character: Present your protagonist, who is dealing with the psychological toll of the conflict. They might be struggling with PTSD, survivor's guilt, or a moral dilemma related to the war.
Introduce the Love Interest: The love interest could be someone who represents a contrasting viewpoint or comes from a different background, such as a volunteer from another country or a local who is actively involved in the resistance.
Develop the Romance: As the physical conflict escalates, so does the romance between the protagonist and the love interest. Their relationship is both a source of comfort and a complication, given the circumstances.
Climax: The climax should involve a significant event in the physical conflict that forces the protagonist to confront their internal struggle and make a difficult choice.
Resolution: Conclude with the protagonist finding some form of resolution, both in terms of their internal conflict (Mind) and the external situation (Physics). This could be a bittersweet ending where the romance thrives against the backdrop of ongoing strife, or a more hopeful note if the situation in Ukraine improves.
Remember, the Main Character Domain cannot be dynamically opposed to the Objective Story Domain, so with the Main Character in the Mind Domain, the Objective Story in the Physics Domain is a perfect fit. The love story will unfold against the backdrop of the physical conflict, intertwining the personal with the political.
Would you like to explore specific Storypoints or Storybeats next, or do you need assistance with another aspect of your story
Subtxt knows that in Casablanca the Objective Story Throughline “plot” acknowledges that conflict for everyone in the story centers around the efforts to secure letters of transit for passage to America. These are physical instances of conflict.
Yet, instead of simply copying the storytelling of “securing letters of transit”, Muse suggested alternate thematically-similar ideas:
Same area of conflict, alternative storytelling that better matches the setting and time-period.
Subtxt also acknowledges that in Casablanca the Main Character Throughline centers conflict on the fixed mindset of Rick. His refusal to “stick his neck out for anyone” and denial of feelings are unique to his personal experience.
Again, instead of regurgitating this idea for our new story, Muse suggested some alternative ideas relating to problematic mindsets:
By focusing the plot on physical conflict and character on problematic attitudes, our new story captures the essence of Casablanca without just copying it.
Muse also leaves room open for creativity and additional considerations, by suggesting a “love interest” and development of said relationship.
Developing the story further, we make a suggestion about said love interest for our Main Character:
What if the love interest is married to a Russian soldier? And she meets the MC again on some border town?
Incorporating a love interest who is married to a Russian soldier adds a layer of complexity and tension to your contemporary romance drama. This scenario can create a rich emotional landscape for your characters to navigate, especially in a border town where loyalties and dangers are heightened. Here's how you might develop this aspect of your story:
Given that the Main Character is in the Mind Domain, the Obstacle Character (OC)—in this case, the love interest—could be in the Universe Domain. This means her situation, being married to a Russian soldier, is a source of conflict. Her circumstances, such as her marriage and the physical location of the border town, create external pressures that influence her interactions with the Main Character (MC).
The Relationship Story (RS) Domain would then be Psychology, focusing on the manipulations and mind games between the MC and the OC. Their relationship is complicated by her marriage and the political tensions between their respective affiliations. The border town setting can amplify the psychological conflict as they navigate their feelings amidst the suspicion and divided loyalties of the locale.
Reunion: The MC and the OC meet again in the border town, rekindling old feelings but also facing the reality of her marriage to a Russian soldier. This encounter sets the stage for the personal and political conflicts to come.
Conflict: The OC's marriage to the enemy creates a natural conflict with the MC, who may have strong feelings about the Russian involvement in Ukraine. The OC may be torn between her feelings for the MC and her loyalty to her husband.
Secrets and Suspicion: The border town could be rife with espionage, secrets, and suspicion. The OC might be suspected of having divided loyalties, and the MC could be caught between his love for her and his duty to his country.
Climactic Choices: The climax should force both the MC and the OC to make difficult choices. The MC might have to choose between his love for the OC and his commitment to his country, while the OC might have to decide where her true loyalties lie.
Resolution: The resolution should address both the internal conflict of the MC (Mind) and the external situation of the OC (Universe). Depending on the direction you want to take, the story could end with the couple overcoming the odds and finding a way to be together, or it could end tragically with their circumstances pulling them apart.
By using the border town as a microcosm of the larger conflict, you can explore the personal ramifications of war and the difficult choices people must make in times of crisis. The love story becomes a poignant reflection of the broader themes of loyalty, sacrifice, and the search for identity in a divided world.
Would you like to delve into specific Storypoints or Storybeats for the MC, OC, or RS, or is there another aspect of the story you'd like to focus on? 😊
Now, we’re going above and beyond the original text.
In Casablanca, Ilsa was married to a freedom fighter rebelling against the occupation; in our version, the love interest (who we have yet to name) is married to a participant in the occupation.
Yet, the narrative still holds together.
Muse’s suggestions go one step further by suggesting that her marriage to this soldier have something to do with the “universe” of being located in that border town (perhaps she grew up there, or her husband did...). This Obstacle Character Throughline of Universe feels right because it’s a perfect balance to the Main Character Throughline’s conflict in Mind. External fixed conflict (being stuck with someone) balances out fixed internal conflict (emotional guilt or sense of duty to someone).
Further, Muse recommends that their romance be one that grows through “manipulations and mind games”; areas of conflict that perfectly balance out the physical exertions in the overall plot. External processes of conflict (engaging in espionage) perfectly balance out internal processes of conflict (mind games and scheming). “Suspicion and divided loyalties” only sweeten the original idea of “Casablanca set in Ukraine.”
As usual, Muse continues the conversation by building on these foundational elements. By developing a story through thematic relationships, instead of focusing on the superficial storytelling, Subtxt and Subtxt Muse offer writers an unparalleled experience in building out their next story.
And it does so, without simply copying or regurgitating the original work.
Just this idea alone:
Depending on the direction you want to take, the story could end with the couple overcoming the odds and finding a way to be together, or it could end tragically with their circumstances pulling them apart.
Opens up new avenues for re-imagining that tearful goodbye on the tarmac.
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