Why Is This a Problem?

The second most important concept to understand (just right behind the idea that Subject Matter is not Conflict) is the focus on the Source of Conflict. Throughout Subtxt you will find many different aspects of narrative, Storypoints and Storybeats, that point to very specific instances of theme. A Story Goal of Obtaining, a Main Character Problem of Faith, and a Story Driver of Action are just a few of the many aspects of narrative avaialble to you while building a story in Subtxt.

With ALL of these, you want to make sure you focus on illustrating them as sources of conflict, not instances of storytelling. For example, illustrating a Story Goal of Obtaining as "the adventurers want to Obtain a treasure trove of jewels" is anemic when compared to illustrating why the act of Obtaining the treasure trove is a problem for everyone involved.

That's what separates a great story, from a "Mad-libs" one-button push AI-generated story.

Subtxt, and Subtxt Muse in particular, are designed to get you to the source.

Finding the Source of Conflict 💪

When working on developing a story in Subtxt, regardless of what aspect (Storypoints or Storybeats), you always want to be asking "Why is this a problem?". Approaching a Storyform this way makes sure you avoid the "Mad-libs" approach to story structure. If you're having trouble figuring out how to do this in your story, just ask Muse...

The following is my illustration for OS Concern of Obtaining: “Everybody wants to Obtain the identity of the murderer or keep their own secrets from being obtained” can you help me answer the question why this is a problem for everyone in my story?

Sure, James! 😊

To illustrate why "Everybody wants to Obtain the identity of the murderer or keep their own secrets from being obtained" is a problem for everyone in your story, we need to delve into the specific conflicts that arise from this situation.

  1. Fear and Suspicion: The murderer's identity being unknown creates a climate of fear and suspicion among the characters. They don't know who to trust, which strains relationships and hinders cooperation.
  2. Self-Preservation: Those with secrets fear exposure. This fear could lead them to take drastic actions to protect their secrets, causing further conflict.
  3. Justice vs. Safety: Some characters might want to reveal the murderer for justice's sake, but fear retaliation. This internal conflict could lead to paralysis, indecision, or risky behavior.
  4. Power Dynamics: The information about the murderer's identity is a form of power. Those who might know something could use this information to manipulate others or gain advantages, leading to power struggles and conflict.
  5. Disruption of Normalcy: The need to find the murderer disrupts everyone's normal routines and sense of safety. This disruption could lead to stress, mistakes, and conflict as characters are pushed out of their comfort zones.

Does this help clarify why this OS Concern of Obtaining is a problem for everyone in your story, James? 😊

Wow! Absolutely!!

I'm glad to hear that, James! 😊 If you have any more questions or need further assistance with your story, feel free to ask. Happy writing!

Just one of those five ideas would work, but having a mix of 2-3 of them will make your story sing!

Each of them illustrates why Obtaining is a problem for everyone in the story. Remember, it's not enough to simply think "they're Obtaining the identity of a murderer", you have to go that extra step and explain why the process of Obtaining that identity is a problem (and thus, explain why it is a Source of Conflict).

Going the Extra Distance

To continue, Muse also makes it easy to experiment with different ideas for your story. For instance, in the response above I can click on the "Split Conversation" button (the plus sign within a speech bubble) to branch the conversation into a new one. Once there, I can cherry-pick the ideas I like, and have Muse quickly spin up a potential story.

I like #1, #2, and #5. my story is set in 1910 Paris. can you write me a couple of paragraphs illustrating these ideas as part of the story?

Absolutely, James! Here's how these ideas could play out in your 191 Paris setting:

In the heart of Paris, 191, the city of lights has been plunged into shadows of fear and suspicion. The news of a murderer on the loose has spread like wildfire, turning the once vibrant city into a place of dread. The once bustling cafés and lively streets are now filled with hushed whispers and suspicious glances. Trust, a once common currency, has become a rare commodity. Friends regard each other warily, and strangers are given a wide berth. The city's social fabric is strained, threatening to tear at the seams.

Meanwhile, secrets that have been carefully guarded are now under threat. The city's elite, who once reveled in their opulent soirées and grand balls, now find themselves under scrutiny. Every action, every word, is analyzed for hidden meanings. The fear of exposure has them on edge, leading to hasty decisions and alliances of convenience. The glittering façade of the high society is starting to crack, revealing the rot underneath.

The daily life of Parisians has been disrupted. The markets are less crowded, the Seine less lively. The pursuit of the murderer has become an obsession, overshadowing the simple joys of life. The city's rhythm has been disrupted, replaced by a palpable tension. The once carefree Parisian spirit has been replaced by a sense of urgency and fear. The city, known for its joie de vivre, now holds its breath, waiting for the storm to pass.

Note how Muse took the ideas of Obtaining as a source of conflict ("Fear and Suspicion", "Self-preservation", and "Disruption of Normalcy") and used those as a basis for a compelling and intriguing mystery thriller.

If instead, I wanted to try a different a story, I could again click the 'Split Conversation' button, and ask Muse to concentrate on only one of the ideas. In this example, I focused on the "Power Dynamics" idea and how Obtaining as a Concern for all involved in the Objective Story Throughline (the plot) would come into conflict over these power plays:

I like #4. my story is set in 1910 Paris. can you write me a paragraph or two illustrating this idea as part of the story?

Absolutely, James! Here's an illustration of the power dynamics in your 191 Paris setting:

In the heart of 191 Paris, the city of lights is shrouded in darkness as a murderer walks its cobblestone streets. The identity of the murderer has become a coveted piece of information, a secret key to power in the intricate social hierarchy of Parisian society. Aristocrats, merchants, and even the city's underbelly vie for this knowledge, not just to bring the murderer to justice, but to leverage it for their own ends.

Take, for instance, the influential Henri Lavigne. He's convinced that the murderer is a rival noble, and seeks to unmask him not out of a sense of justice, but to disgrace his rival and ascend in the court's favor. Meanwhile, in the bustling markets of Le Marais, whispers of the murderer's identity are traded like currency, with merchants using hints and rumors to draw in customers eager for the latest gossip. Even the city's thieves and pickpockets are drawn into the game, pilfering letters and eavesdropping on conversations in the hope of stumbling upon the murderer's identity, a secret that could be their ticket out of the slums.

In this atmosphere of intrigue and power plays, the quest to obtain the murderer's identity becomes a dangerous game, where alliances shift, trust is a scarce commodity, and everyone has something to hide. The city of lights has become a city of shadows, where information is power, and power is survival.

And this is just ONE Storypoint out of the possible 70+ in a complete Storyform! You could use this approach for every aspect of your narrative's structure, and play around with different ideas for storytelling, until you develop the story that speaks most to you. 😃

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