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To Analyze or not, that is the question....

> But we're not there yet. Telling us to stop analyzing at this stage is
> equivalent to telling us to stop working on the problem.

Fair enough, Walt.  I do agree with you, 100%, that analysis is critically
important to figuring out how to do interactive storytelling.

On reflection, what I was reacting to in Bob's post, I think, was that imo
focusing in too great of detail on assorted kinds of plot formulae won't get
you very far for very long,  because plot elements aren't infinitely
combinable:  there are all kinds of odd strictures and
illogical-but-essential user/reader expectations built into every genre
(which btw are often mutually exclusive), and these rules are amorphous --
intangibles that I doubt could be coded effectively.  My gut tells me you'd
run out of new interesting story combinations really quickly, going that

Whereas, if you focus instead on character motivations and how those come
into conflict both within the character and with other characters, I believe
you'll get a lot farther.  Character conflict and personal internal
struggles between conflicting loyalties and values are nearly infinitely
recombinable, and all kinds of fascinating stories can be created therefrom.

To put it another way, I guess I'd say that I see characters as the data and
plot as the process.  I guess that means you're trying to come up with plot
algorithms, and I think that's a good idea -- definitely -- but trying to
slice plots up by kinds of "large-scale" conflict or theme, I think, cuts
the pieces too big to be effectively re-used.

But perhaps I am misinterpreting what you (and/or Bob) have in mind.

(Btw, Chris, too, has made several forays in the direction of trying to
identify plot elements in various ways, and he's certainly come up with some
interesting stuff -- but as a (nascent) interactive storybuilder, I've
always felt too constrained by any large-scale plot structures being imposed
by the software.)

Just mho. Fwiw, ymmv, etc.


Btw2, just for grins -- another truism aspiring writers hear a lot is,
"There are only seven basic plots, and Shakespeare has already done them all
better than you ever will!"  (how's that for keeping us egotistical writer
types humble...and honest...?)

Laura J. Mixon  |  ljm@digitalnoir.com   |   www.digitalnoir.com
 "At Tide's Turning:" terraforming run amok   (Asimov's SF- 4/01)
  BURNING THE ICE:  on a Jovian moon, hi-tech intrigue (Tor Books-late 2001)