This is a case study of how you can use machine learning GPT-2 to write a scene.
First of all, I trained GPT-2 with 1 million words of fiction I’ve written. This is an essential step, because with the untrained model you get lots of irrelevant gibberish, whereas this way, you get relevant gibberish. Trust me, it’s a different kind of gibberish.
I call him Machine George.
Then, I ran GPT-2. The how is beyond the scope of this post. Google it.
I used this parameter in the run:
prefix="Miasma the reaper followed Tushy",
That means I tell the algorithm to start the sample text with those exact words, and carry on from there. The results can ricochet off to whatever, but giving it a seed like that helps point it towards where you want it to.
Now, I didn’t know what I wanted to write. I just knew I wanted a scene where the antagonist, Miasma, is following Tushy around.
This is an actual case study with exactly what I used, so the methodology might be too chaotic for you.
As I said, I didn’t know what I wanted to write, other than an ominus, antagonist-POV scene of pursuit. Those are hard to write, because it’s not like in movies and cinema, where you can just show some ominous shadows and actor expressions and put the appropriate music underneath.
So, I generated about thirty samples from that input.
As usual, I got a bunch of garbage. I’m gonna paste a few of the first paragraphs so you can see what I had to shift through:
Miasma the reaper followed Tushy around. “Mmm,” Tushy moaned. “You eat shit.” “Yup.” Reapers are noisy. They chatter all of the time,” Tubby said, running his tongue on his lips. “I wanna hear you say,” Miasma said, panting, breathing out, wiggling her butt. “Whimper?” Tubby said, raising an eyebrow. “What is it now?” “You’re so scary!” Tubby said, now smiling.
Miasma the reaper followed Tushy around. It was a miniaturised version of the classic black-eyed mutant uchu who fed on the dead. These were spread across the cities, in every strata of society, with a specific job only performed by professionals. Tushy had also spread from a group of caustic mutants to all the major cities, spreading fear and chaos. People didn’t want to go anywhere near them, and the Amazons had a code of honour, they broke that code every day
This is interesting. If I had limited the training to contemporary text I might not have had irrelevant sci-fi output such as this, but I can always just ignore it:
Miasma the reaper followed Tushy but she couldn’t keep up. They navigated the rings towards Omakesis, a massive planetoid with atmospheric dust and massive volcanoes. It was destruction at the outer rim, there was no place left to hide in. Tushy felt bad about the manoeuvre, she knew it was stupid and dangerous but she wanted to do it. The chance of them blowing up was very low, but it could happen any second now.
And the funniest one (I swear this is the exact output!):
Miasma the reaper followed Tushy around the castle with something akin to a heavy-set dildo. It was something nearly invisible, dark brown in colour and shaped like a massive, soft ball. It was heavy enough that Tushy had to admit it was a burden, but thin enough that the Princess could accept it and move with it. "Hey, can I touch it?" Flora asked, curious. "Sure!" Tushy said and gripped her Princess' hand. They moved apart, and Tushy let her drop onto the grassy knoll. "What are you planning to do with me?" asked Flora, arching her back at the huge cock. "I plan to breed with you, and strengthen your kingdom!" Tushy said with her arms up in the air. "And make sure I'm not killed by you next time!" Flora smiled and nodded. She touched the tip, and there was a faint smell of earth, moldy. Tushy had to make a decision. "What about the Children?" "Yeah, we're done for today," Tushy said and turned her back to her.
As you can see, these are fully usable opening paragraphs. Some make no sense in the story I’m writing, but others are quite good. If you understand a bit of machine learning, you’ll see that the name Tushy made the algorithm write down some ass-related stuff, which is funny, but somewhat useless. As always, garbage-in-garbage-out.
And then I found this:
Miasma the reaper followed Tushy's shadow into the centre of the labyrinth and started moving about. This place was extremely dark, she couldn’t really see that far into the building’s interior, let alone the various crevices and electrical outlets. Miasma grabbed Tushy by the ass and pushed her to the wall. Tushy managed to break her hold and free herself, but not before Miasma had ample opportunity to pierce her heart with her razor sharp fang. Tushy flickered in and out of life and death, her facial features a twisted blur. Miasma could see them only from the corner of the building, her pupil contracting beneath her gaze. Then she died. Tushy screamed, enraged.
Wait a minute, this is actually good. I didn’t plan on writing a scene about a labyrinth, but this was an idea that I could work with.
For some reason (look at the last two sentences), I decided to make this a murder scene. But Tushy is the protagonist, so I just swapped the prey to another Reaper. She was gonna die anyway, so I just named her Trista.
Miasma the reaper followed Trista's shadow into the centre of the labyrinth and started moving about. This place was extremely dark, she couldn’t really see that far into the building’s interior, let alone the various crevices and electrical outlets. Miasma grabbed Trista by the ass and pushed her to the wall. Trista managed to break her hold and free herself, but not before Miasma had ample opportunity to pierce her heart with her razor sharp fang. Trista flickered in and out of life and death, her facial features a twisted blur. Miasma could see them only from the corner of the building, her pupil contracting beneath her gaze. Then she died. Trista screamed, enraged.
That’s not a rewrite, it’s just a replacement. And as I said above, if the name points the algorithm towards writing weird stuff, you can just use a normal name like Maria and then just replace it. Also, it didn’t catch on to the fact that Miasma is female, so that might have been easier with just using John or Maria for example.
Now, since I decided to run with this labyrinth idea, I rewrote the opening paragraph. Some stuff doesn’t make sense so I can just get rid of them.
Miasma the reaper followed Trista's shadow into the centre of the labyrinth and started moving about. This place was extremely dark, she couldn’t really see that far into the building’s interior, let alone the various crevices and electrical outlets. It was a place built by a madman. Perhaps to keep something inside, or people out. She wasn’t certain. No matter how good the labyrinth-maker was, he couldn’t keep Reapers out. Perhaps that was the point. Stupid mortals, thinking they could escape her scythe. The vector of death pointed straight at the labyrinth’s centre.
Now I have something that works. The next thing is gonna get clunky on a post, but I’m gonna paste the exact full output from Machine George here just to show you what I was working with:
Miasma the reaper followed Tushy's shadow into the centre of the labyrinth and started moving about. This place was extremely dark, she couldn’t really see that far into the building’s interior, let alone the various crevices and electrical outlets. Miasma grabbed Tushy by the ass and pushed her to the wall. Tushy managed to break her hold and free herself, but not before Miasma had ample opportunity to pierce her heart with her razor sharp fang. Tushy flickered in and out of life and death, her facial features a twisted blur. Miasma could see them only from the corner of the building, her pupil contracting beneath her gaze. Then she died. Tushy screamed, enraged. Miasma slapped her lightly on the face and tried to calm her down. The organ on her right arm flared red, then stopped. Then Tushy started screaming again. To her corpse. Miasma stuck her hand inside the gap, trying to steady her. The organ flamed, giving the avatar more time to adjust to her new owner. Tushy started beating her, stabbing her with her short sword. Miasma tried to fight back, but her strength was rather low. She was knocked unconscious on the floor and saw Tushy draw a long knife as she spilt blood on the floor. Tushy was furious, she slapped Miasma hard, blood spraying from her body. Tushy pulled her knife and mumbled in her face, “I gave all for the child to thee.” Tushy was throwing her gear off her and burning them all with her bright light. Now that, combined with her rapid heartbeat, made her look fat. “No, you were not strong for your age, Miasma. No need to attack now,” Tushy said calmly. “Long live the one true love of your life. Jusst be with ya, running a campaign or something.” Miasma tsked audibly. Tushy started beating her with her palm still up and down. Tushy finally stopped, turned her back to them and started stripping them all naked on the floor. All of them except for one. Miasma licked her fingers, trying to fight back. But they were rusty and thin, nothing could really hurt them. Tushy made her come down on her face, pinching her nose, her whole back a mess. She bit Miasma hard, maybe half her tongue would have hurt her, had she not already screamed like an overgrown nag. Miasma started wiggling her body in response and Tushy made her go for it. Miasma came at her face, still pinching her. Tushy bit the flesh, and with a swift movement, the death stare of her extended all the way to the apex of her face. She straightened her back and raised her arms up, the gesture suggesting she should make a wish. Her mother, Tanya, was standing nearby, watching them both straighten. “Sounds good,” Miasma said with a small smile. Tanya nodded in agreement. Tushy turned her face to her and started kissing her. Miasma began panting and wiggling her body, kissing her all over, her neck, her breasts, her hair, even her eyes. Tanya was sweet and gentle, much more so than her husband. Miasma was loving it, and she kept doing it as Tushy went along, running her hands up and down her body. It was soft and perfect, like the pearls she had purchased for her. Tanya looked up at the army of Eves that were on displaying their skills. “I’m sure they gave you a good workout after all,” Tanya said, breathing in. “Yes. And they’re the best,” Miasma said and kissed her on the lips. Tanya bit her lip, thinking about it. She knew she shouldn’t have done so, she was after all, a Rank 1 Magister herself. But she had been promised a good training ground, she was given permission to do so by the Evryali, Achilles’ favourite. And she had violated that order by coming on to the battlefield. And, she probably should have stayed away from the battlefield. “Mmm yes…” Tanya moaned, “I wanna do it…” Tushy put her lips on her own. She tugged on her jacket, feeling its texture. It was a material with wicked edges and enough zirconia for rough, manly manly men. She pushed herself
Some of it is crazy, or just plain useless. But the whole murder and then Trista screaming thing gave me an idea that changed the entire scene and the antagonist character.
More specifically, I liked the labyrinth, the confrontation, the kiss.
I rewrote the output from Machine George into this:
Miasma the reaper followed Trista's shadow into the centre of the labyrinth and started moving about. This place was extremely dark, she couldn’t really see that far into the building’s interior, let alone the various crevices and electrical outlets. It was a place built by a madman. Perhaps to keep something inside, or people out. She wasn’t certain. No matter how good the labyrinth-maker was, he couldn’t keep Reapers out. Perhaps that was the point. Stupid mortals, thinking they could escape her scythe. The vector of death pointed straight at the labyrinth’s centre. Trista was only a soul away from becoming a level 3 Reaper, like herself. A bit further than a baby Reaper, not much experience yet, but she was tough. Miasma had to be clever about this. She followed in silence as her sister and soon to be sister wife walked down the paths of the labyrinth. She had to admit, she was a good-looking Reaper. Thin and lithe and deadly, just like Thanatos liked them. She was the next in line to be his wife, having claimed the privilege by reaching the third level of Reaper. Miasma hissed, almost giving away her position. She was going to take that spot for herself. She was going to be taken by handsome Thanatos, on his bed with the black veils and the sorrowful violins for ambiance. She would spread her legs for him, let him enter her and deflower her and claim her for his own. And then, as one of his wives, she would climb the ladder of Reapers, never letting anyone stand in her way, until she was at the very top. On the black throne right next to him. Trista led her pursuer to the centre of the labyrinth. That stupid bitch Miasma, she thought she could steal her reap right from under her nose. No. She’d show her who’s the boss. She clenched her fists on her scythe’s handle, ready for the ambush. She was loaded with a soul shield which should absorb Miasma’s sneak attack, giving her enough of an element of surprise to counterattack and take her out. Hopefully. She set her eyes forward and kept on walking. It shouldn’t be long now, the vector was pointing right here, judging from her turns and angles. Riiight… here! She held her scythe up, ready to reap the poor fucker. There was a hospital bed there, a medical machine beeping ominously, a soft reading lamp, a pile of first edition books. But no labyrinth-maker anywhere. She squinted to see in the dim light of the room. There was a jar on the bed, it looked like a medical container, and in it was something that looked like a tumour. It glowed purple when she approached it, and when she reached out with her hand she was certain that it felt like an obsidian rock. “What in Thanatos’ name?” Trista asked out loud. And then she got stabbed in the back. As expected, her soul shield saved her. She was now down one soul from her reserve, but it was worth it. Climbing the ladder was the only thing that mattered to any Reaper, and she could make up for lost souls tomorrow. Today, it was time to kick a bitch’s ass. She spun, bringing her scythe down for the kill. Miasma was shocked to see that her attack did nothing but shower her with eerie light-blue sparks. She recovered quickly enough to dodge Trista’s counterattack. Her scythe slashed her cheek downwards, giving her a wide gash for her stupidity. Of course Trista had been expecting her. “Clever girl,” she snarled at her, “It’s almost a shame that you’re gonna die.” “Fuck you,” Trista spat back and raised her scythe again. Miasma lunged forward. They were both skinny, but she had the advantage of better footing. “Thanatos is gonna fuck me, you rotten fish.” “Aaa!” Trista screamed and got shoved away. Miasma grabbed Trista by the ass tight and pushed her to the wall. Trista managed to break her hold and free herself. Miasma opened her palm at her fallen scythe and it flew into her grasp. She grabbed it by the blade and used it as a knife to pierce Trista’s black heart. Trista flickered in and out of unlife and undeath, her facial features a twisted blur. Miasma could see them only from the corner of the eyes, her pupils contracting beneath her gaze. Then she died. Trista screamed, enraged. Miasma slapped her lightly on the face and tried to calm her down. The obsidian stone on her right arm flared red, then stopped. Then Trista started screaming again. To her corpse. She was skewered, propped up at a weird angle by Miasma’s scythe, her legs folded underneath her. “That’s impossible. How did you?” Miasma stuck her hand inside the gaps of Trista’s eyeholes, steadying her head with her thumbs. The obsidian rock flamed, giving the ghost more time to adjust to her new situation. Trista started beating her, slapping and punching her. Miasma tried to fight back, but her strength was expended by all the shadow she had been using. She got knocked on the floor, feeling woozy and almost unconscious, and saw Trista pull out the scythe from her own corpse as she spilt blood on the floor. Trista was furious, she slapped Miasma hard, blood spraying from her body. Miasma pulled her obsidian rock and mumbled in her face, “Please, stop. I’ll tell you how I did it if you stop.” Trista stopped hitting her in her ghostly form. Reapers were not technically alive, so they could be manipulated by a ghost. Even a Reaper’s ghost. She held her by the throat and squeezed tight. “No, you were not strong for your age, Miasma. No need to spare you now,” Trista said calmly. “Long live the one true love of your life, Thanatos.” Miasma tsked audibly. Trista started beating her with her palm, like punching an annoying mosquito. She paused, and then bit Miasma hard on the collar bone, making sure her teeth sunk into bony flesh. Miasma screamed from the pain, but she didn’t have any strength left to fight back. She resigned. “Trista, you can have my spot on the ladder.” “I could have had that anyway. What’s to stop me from taking it from you?” Trista snarled, her ghostly teeth dripping blood. “You’ve won. I’ll bow down to you. But the others won’t. Trust me, it’s better if you have someone having your back, you can’t keep that soul shield up forever.” Trista seemed like she was considering it. Her eyes darted from Miasma to her own fallen body. “Just hear me out,” Miasma said, feeling exhausted. Trista squeezed her neck tight, making her choke for an exact minute. Then she let go, dropped Miasma on the floor and said, “Speak.” Miasma turned her face away from Trista. She crawled next to Trista’s skewered body and looked her over. Her dress had climbed up her milky thigh, and she caressed the dead body’s skin gently. “What are you doing?” Trista said, sounding shocked. Well, as shocked as a ghost can be. “I’ve always admired you, Trista,” Miasma said and started kissing her leg. First the back of her knee, then down at her calves, then up again at her thighs. Trista started to breathe hard, but it was only a sound, since ghosts have no exhalation. Miasma began writhing and wiggling her body, kissing her sister wife all over, her neck, her breasts, her hair, even her eyes. She was sweet and gentle, much more so than their soon to be husband. Trista seemed to be loving it, and she kept staring as Miasma went along her dead body, running her hands up and down. She stayed at her chest, her breasts took over her entire reason for being. They were soft and perfect, like the pearls Thanatos liked to gift to his Reaper wives. “Y-you like me? Like that, I mean?” “Yes. And you’re the best,” Miasma said and kissed her on the dead lips. The ghost of the Reaper girl touched her own lips, as if having felt the soft touch. “We can team up. You go first and become Thanatos’ wife,” Miasma bit Trista’s lip gently, “then me,” she gave it another nibble at the bottom, “then nobody else until we kick out all the others from the ladder.” Trista bit her lip, thinking about it. She pushed her ghostly legs together, as if feeling the heat on her crotch. “Mmm yes…” Trista moaned, “I wanna do it…” “Good…” Miasma smiled and gave the corpse one last kiss. And then she grabbed her scythe’s handle and spun it around, dislodging Trista’s heart from her body, making a bloody mess of her chest cavity she had worshipped only moments earlier. “Your spot is mine, bitch. Your souls are mine. Everything is mine.” Trista’s ghost wailed, and then died, for real.
The above is the finished scene as used in Tushy Reaper 2. Basically, I rewrote the whole thing, and kept only a couple of bits and ideas.
But this is what’s possible with a machine-learning writer trained from your work. It’s like having someone spit out ideas at you, and you go through them and see what clicks.
In Californication, there’s a brilliant scene of a writer room. They’ve hired Duchovny as a writer in a TV show, and he’s all cool and bored about it. The other writer presents an idea that doesn’t really make sense with the coolness of the protagonist they’re writing, he says they should start the show by having him doing rollerskates. The others tell him that’s lame. Their character is a cool black cop, that’s white-people lame crap.
And then they ask Duchovny for his idea. He grabs that tidbit, rolls with it, and starts the scene with the exact same thing, only now his protagonist has to go undercover to catch a murderer, and that’s why he’s rollerskating like a white person in California. He used the trope of putting an extraordinary person in an ordinary position to create interest in the viewer.
That scene is brilliant, because that’s exactly how an experienced writer works. And this is how you can use machine learning to write a scene.
I trained Machine George with my stories. I had a nugget to start with (Miasma the reaper followed Tushy), asked him for ideas.
Most of his ideas were crap.
But one was good, and I rolled with it. I’d never have come up with that labyrinth idea, and it allowed me to explore the antagonist’s character and motivations even more in the sequel of the scene.
So, that’s it for a case study. It’s quite advanced, I know. Maybe it helps someone. Will I use Machine George to give me scene ideas? Maybe, when I’m stuck with something. I’m not sure if I’m gonna incorporate him into my workflow, it’s all still a bit clunky, and you end up having to go through tons of garbage text, which is tiresome and it’s time better spent writing. But it’s interesting, and I’ll let you know if it works out.