Crowdsourcing plot lines to help the creative process

Innovative authors could shortly have a new option to help overcome writer’s block, many thanks to a process introduced by researchers in the School of Details Sciences and Technological know-how at Penn Point out.


The crowd-run process, named Heteroglossia, allows writers to elicit story thoughts from the on the net crowd. Authors can share sections of their story drafts applying a text editor. Then, by means of a technique named “position participate in,” on the net personnel are assigned fictional people in the story and tasked with brainstorming plot thoughts from that character’s perspective.

“When you create a story as an author or novelist, at some issue you get caught,” explained Ting-Hao (Kenneth) Huang, assistant professor of information sciences and technology and principal investigator on the task. “Applying the position-participate in technique and construction, you can get thoughts that are semantically significantly from your present-day plot to help relieve writer’s block.”

Huang noted that the Heteroglossia platform is just one option in a toolkit that writers can attract from when they get caught in their writing.

“You can visualize that when an author receives caught, they may try out many matters,” he explained. “They could use this process, they could go to slumber, they could drink coffee, they could get a break.”

He added, “We designed a process that can supply attention-grabbing thoughts. Primarily based on the literature, we know that when creators get caught in the creative system, the inspirations or thoughts that are semantically significantly from their present-day performing concept will be a lot more helpful than thoughts that are nearer.”

Huang knows first-hand the benefit of overcoming writer’s block. In his spare time, he writes fiction, short stories, essays, plays and poems. He self-posted his first e book at 17 and gained the Award of Thriller Writers of Taiwan writing contest—臺灣推理作家協會徵文獎 in Mandarin Chinese—in 2010. Now, he needs to concentration his investigation on serving to his fellow creative writers.

“There is a gap involving writing assistance technologies and creative writing,” he explained. “You have a lot of automatic technologies, these as spell verify and grammar verify, to assistance writing. Those people are useful, but not specialised for creative writing.”

In the task, Huang and his investigation workforce carried out two reports. The first measured the results of position-participate in technique, which enabled them to inform the design of their platform. By means of that examine, they carried out experiments to explore no matter whether the position-participate in technique could produce useful story thoughts and what trade-offs could occur by applying this technique.

In the next examine, the researchers carried out a deployment examine with seasoned creative writers, encouraging them to use the Heteroglossia platform as a tool when they received caught in their writing system, and to share their knowledge with the process in pre- and post-examine interviews.

“We realized that writers care about their intellectual home, and that they have worries that a lot of strangers (on the net crowd personnel) will see part of their draft,” explained Huang. “So, we want to operate on how to make the shared draft nameless or blur selected elements of the story.”

Huang and his co-collaborators, Chieh-Yang Huang, doctoral college student in the School of IST, and Shih-Hong Huang, investigation assistant in the School of IST, will present their operate at the 2020 Affiliation of Computing Machinery CHI Convention on Human Factors in Computing Systems—the premier worldwide conference of Human-Computer Interaction—in May perhaps.

According to Huang, the present-day process is run entirely by human personnel. Long run operate will involve growing the deployment examine to consist of a lot more creative writers, and possibly incorporating artificial intelligence into the platform to deliver story thoughts.

“I believe that the creative system is significant to human activities,” he explained. “We converse about automating human labor, and persons have the sense that automating the creative system is really hard. I believe if we study how to help creative writing or creative processes in standard, we can study a lot more about how to construct methods that can be creative.”


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Pennsylvania Point out University

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