NaNoGenMo 2014 or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Misapplied Narratology

It’s National Novel Generation Month, and y’all is writing code to generate a novel*, ain’t ya?

* where novel is generously defined as 50,000 words.

NaNoGenMo2014 home on GitHub Natch.

There’s some crazy stuff going on. Here are some highlights:

Generated Detective Comcs
Collective Consciousness Fiction Generator this uses TV Tropes to generate about 20+ “novels” so far. The contents are confusing. Of course.
A Diary of Every Minutes of the Day using Twitter as source. Neat trick.
Swann’s Way through the Night Land uses a NLP technique to mash two novels together. A couple of people have played with this, to weird (in the Wm Hope Hodgson sense of the word) results.
Botanist wandering a maze with the mazes. And talking animals.
Experiment a Day cpressey decided to make 30+ experiments that trend towards novel-length. SO JEALOUS.

I’ve decided to take the bull by the horns and work on narrative. It’s a huge undertaking, and I’m mostly faking it with templates, but I am using some schemas and rules to keep things orderly. I’m doing weird research (reading 1970s manuals on Fortran V implementations), having fun, and learning things. And having fun.

Code with notes and research
Discussion of my progress

An articles that sniffs at NaNoGenMo and mostly talks about “serious” efforts.

Some sample output:

In the distant country of Talexico, Local Ella lived in a decayed mansion near Oblivion. Ella lives with Buff Savannah, Watchful Julia, Fussy Anna, Caustic Jessica, Able Holly Shiftwell, Megan the Uncooperative, Jennifer the Confused, Restless Jasmine, Musical Hailey, and Maria the Adventurous. Lily the Well-respected, Natalie the Hateful, and Chloe the Helpful are friends of Ella.

Ella meets Michael the Below average.

“Hello there, Michael” said Ella.
“Hello there, yourself, Ella” replied Michael.
“Well, you certainly are friendly,” remarked Ella.
“Yes, I am,” conceded Michael. “But it’s been said that I’m also below average!”

Michael warns Ella to not talk to Joan of Arc the Scare.
Michael introduces Temporal Destiny to Ella

“Hello there, Ella” said Temporal Destiny.
“Hello there, yourself, Temporal Destiny” replied Ella.
“Well, you certainly are interesting,” remarked Temporal Destiny.
“Yes, I am,” conceded Ella. “But it’s been said that I’m also local!”

As soon as Michael is gone, Ella runs off to find Joan of Arc and has an interesting conversation.

“Hello there, Joan of Arc” said Ella.
“Hello there, yourself, Ella” replied Joan of Arc.
“Well, you certainly are scare,” remarked Ella.
“Yes, I am,” conceded Joan of Arc. “But it’s been said that I’m also impossible!”

Joan of Arc kills Savannah.

“Gee whiz!” said Joan of Arc to nobody in particular.

Michael gives Ella the Organic-Sub-light-Alternate-Finite Event horizon.

Ella and Joan of Arc do battle.

Ella uses the Organic-Sub-light-Alternate-Finite Event horizon to annoy Joan of Arc.

Joan of Arc is hung, drawn, and quartered by Ella.

Ella marries and is made king. Ella still mourns the stinging loss of Savannah.


cf Stories are a fuggly hack

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: linear narrative* is the opiate of the masses, and I always want another fix…

* but not always, “linear narrative” is somewhat tautological.

In retrospect, that edit could simply imply a timeline mapped onto a cylinder. A very tightly-bound Groundhog Day, perhaps.

[this has NOTHING to do with NaNoGenMo. probably. Although Nick Monfort’s Curveship may be related.]

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Templates and dialogue to avoid repetition have not advanced much, but I’ve been changing a lot of the underlying framework to make some more things possible – like BOSS MODE: if this is turned on, when (if) the villain is killed, the story will loop back to introduce a new villain. Based on a percentage chance. Bare bones example.

Also in the works is “embedded tales” - where a character tells a story, which would basically be another looped calling of the story-generator. An entire book could be done with embedded stories, but I’m not really interested in that.

The month is over, and I never got it where I hoped it would be – but the journey proved more dangerous and fraught than I had scarcely imagined!

I was able to generate a novel comprised of 165 short stories, and will continue work on enhancing the thing.

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The WebUI for the generator is available @

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