Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Storytelling

Francis Ferraro, Ting-Hao ‘Kenneth’ Huang, Stephanie M. Lukin, Margaret Mitchell (Editors)

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Florence, Italy
ACL | Story-NLP | WS
Association for Computational Linguistics
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Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Storytelling
Francis Ferraro | Ting-Hao ‘Kenneth’ Huang | Stephanie M. Lukin | Margaret Mitchell

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Composing a Picture Book by Automatic Story Understanding and Visualization
Xiaoyu Qi | Ruihua Song | Chunting Wang | Jin Zhou | Tetsuya Sakai

Pictures can enrich storytelling experiences. We propose a framework that can automatically compose a picture book by understanding story text and visualizing it with painting elements, i.e., characters and backgrounds. For story understanding, we extract key information from a story on both sentence level and paragraph level, including characters, scenes and actions. These concepts are organized and visualized in a way that depicts the development of a story. We collect a set of Chinese stories for children and apply our approach to compose pictures for stories. Extensive experiments are conducted towards story event extraction for visualization to demonstrate the effectiveness of our method.

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“My Way of Telling a Story”: Persona based Grounded Story Generation
Khyathi Chandu | Shrimai Prabhumoye | Ruslan Salakhutdinov | Alan W Black

Visual storytelling is the task of generating stories based on a sequence of images. Inspired by the recent works in neural generation focusing on controlling the form of text, this paper explores the idea of generating these stories in different personas. However, one of the main challenges of performing this task is the lack of a dataset of visual stories in different personas. Having said that, there are independent datasets for both visual storytelling and annotated sentences for various persona. In this paper we describe an approach to overcome this by getting labelled persona data from a different task and leveraging those annotations to perform persona based story generation. We inspect various ways of incorporating personality in both the encoder and the decoder representations to steer the generation in the target direction. To this end, we propose five models which are incremental extensions to the baseline model to perform the task at hand. In our experiments we use five different personas to guide the generation process. We find that the models based on our hypotheses perform better at capturing words while generating stories in the target persona.

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Using Functional Schemas to Understand Social Media Narratives
Xinru Yan | Aakanksha Naik | Yohan Jo | Carolyn Rose

We propose a novel take on understanding narratives in social media, focusing on learning ”functional story schemas”, which consist of sets of stereotypical functional structures. We develop an unsupervised pipeline to extract schemas and apply our method to Reddit posts to detect schematic structures that are characteristic of different subreddits. We validate our schemas through human interpretation and evaluate their utility via a text classification task. Our experiments show that extracted schemas capture distinctive structural patterns in different subreddits, improving classification performance of several models by 2.4% on average. We also observe that these schemas serve as lenses that reveal community norms.

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A Hybrid Model for Globally Coherent Story Generation
Fangzhou Zhai | Vera Demberg | Pavel Shkadzko | Wei Shi | Asad Sayeed

Automatically generating globally coherent stories is a challenging problem. Neural text generation models have been shown to perform well at generating fluent sentences from data, but they usually fail to keep track of the overall coherence of the story after a couple of sentences. Existing work that incorporates a text planning module succeeded in generating recipes and dialogues, but appears quite data-demanding. We propose a novel story generation approach that generates globally coherent stories from a fairly small corpus. The model exploits a symbolic text planning module to produce text plans, thus reducing the demand of data; a neural surface realization module then generates fluent text conditioned on the text plan. Human evaluation showed that our model outperforms various baselines by a wide margin and generates stories which are fluent as well as globally coherent.

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Guided Neural Language Generation for Automated Storytelling
Prithviraj Ammanabrolu | Ethan Tien | Wesley Cheung | Zhaochen Luo | William Ma | Lara Martin | Mark Riedl

Neural network based approaches to automated story plot generation attempt to learn how to generate novel plots from a corpus of natural language plot summaries. Prior work has shown that a semantic abstraction of sentences called events improves neural plot generation and and allows one to decompose the problem into: (1) the generation of a sequence of events (event-to-event) and (2) the transformation of these events into natural language sentences (event-to-sentence). However, typical neural language generation approaches to event-to-sentence can ignore the event details and produce grammatically-correct but semantically-unrelated sentences. We present an ensemble-based model that generates natural language guided by events. Our method outperforms the baseline sequence-to-sequence model. Additionally, we provide results for a full end-to-end automated story generation system, demonstrating how our model works with existing systems designed for the event-to-event problem.

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An Analysis of Emotion Communication Channels in Fan-Fiction: Towards Emotional Storytelling
Evgeny Kim | Roman Klinger

Centrality of emotion for the stories told by humans is underpinned by numerous studies in literature and psychology. The research in automatic storytelling has recently turned towards emotional storytelling, in which characters’ emotions play an important role in the plot development (Theune et al., 2004; y Perez, 2007; Mendez et al., 2016). However, these studies mainly use emotion to generate propositional statements in the form “A feels affection towards B” or “A confronts B”. At the same time, emotional behavior does not boil down to such propositional descriptions, as humans display complex and highly variable patterns in communicating their emotions, both verbally and non-verbally. In this paper, we analyze how emotions are expressed non-verbally in a corpus of fan fiction short stories. Our analysis shows that stories written by humans convey character emotions along various non-verbal channels. We find that some non-verbal channels, such as facial expressions and voice characteristics of the characters, are more strongly associated with joy, while gestures and body postures are more likely to occur with trust. Based on our analysis, we argue that automatic storytelling systems should take variability of emotion into account when generating descriptions of characters’ emotions.

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Narrative Generation in the Wild: Methods from NaNoGenMo
Judith van Stegeren | Mariët Theune

In text generation, generating long stories is still a challenge. Coherence tends to decrease rapidly as the output length increases. Especially for generated stories, coherence of the narrative is an important quality aspect of the output text. In this paper we examine how narrative coherence is attained in the submissions of NaNoGenMo 2018, an online text generation event where participants are challenged to generate a 50,000 word novel. We list the main approaches that were used to generate coherent narratives and link them to scientific literature. Finally, we give recommendations on when to use which approach.

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Lexical concreteness in narrative
Michael Flor | Swapna Somasundaran

This study explores the relation between lexical concreteness and narrative text quality. We present a methodology to quantitatively measure lexical concreteness of a text. We apply it to a corpus of student stories, scored according to writing evaluation rubrics. Lexical concreteness is weakly-to-moderately related to story quality, depending on story-type. The relation is mostly borne by adjectives and nouns, but also found for adverbs and verbs.

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A Simple Approach to Classify Fictional and Non-Fictional Genres
Mohammed Rameez Qureshi | Sidharth Ranjan | Rajakrishnan Rajkumar | Kushal Shah

In this work, we deploy a logistic regression classifier to ascertain whether a given document belongs to the fiction or non-fiction genre. For genre identification, previous work had proposed three classes of features, viz., low-level (character-level and token counts), high-level (lexical and syntactic information) and derived features (type-token ratio, average word length or average sentence length). Using the Recursive feature elimination with cross-validation (RFECV) algorithm, we perform feature selection experiments on an exhaustive set of nineteen features (belonging to all the classes mentioned above) extracted from Brown corpus text. As a result, two simple features viz., the ratio of the number of adverbs to adjectives and the number of adjectives to pronouns turn out to be the most significant. Subsequently, our classification experiments aimed towards genre identification of documents from the Brown and Baby BNC corpora demonstrate that the performance of a classifier containing just the two aforementioned features is at par with that of a classifier containing the exhaustive feature set.

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Detecting Everyday Scenarios in Narrative Texts
Lilian Diana Awuor Wanzare | Michael Roth | Manfred Pinkal

Script knowledge consists of detailed information on everyday activities. Such information is often taken for granted in text and needs to be inferred by readers. Therefore, script knowledge is a central component to language comprehension. Previous work on representing scripts is mostly based on extensive manual work or limited to scenarios that can be found with sufficient redundancy in large corpora. We introduce the task of scenario detection, in which we identify references to scripts. In this task, we address a wide range of different scripts (200 scenarios) and we attempt to identify all references to them in a collection of narrative texts. We present a first benchmark data set and a baseline model that tackles scenario detection using techniques from topic segmentation and text classification.

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Personality Traits Recognition in Literary Texts
Daniele Pizzolli | Carlo Strapparava

Interesting stories often are built around interesting characters. Finding and detailing what makes an interesting character is a real challenge, but certainly a significant cue is the character personality traits. Our exploratory work tests the adaptability of the current personality traits theories to literal characters, focusing on the analysis of utterances in theatre scripts. And, at the opposite, we try to find significant traits for interesting characters. The preliminary results demonstrate that our approach is reasonable. Using machine learning for gaining insight into the personality traits of fictional characters can make sense.

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Winter is here: Summarizing Twitter Streams related to Pre-Scheduled Events
Anietie Andy | Derry Tanti Wijaya | Chris Callison-Burch

Pre-scheduled events, such as TV shows and sports games, usually garner considerable attention from the public. Twitter captures large volumes of discussions and messages related to these events, in real-time. Twitter streams related to pre-scheduled events are characterized by the following: (1) spikes in the volume of published tweets reflect the highlights of the event and (2) some of the published tweets make reference to the characters involved in the event, in the context in which they are currently portrayed in a subevent. In this paper, we take advantage of these characteristics to identify the highlights of pre-scheduled events from tweet streams and we demonstrate a method to summarize these highlights. We evaluate our algorithm on tweets collected around 2 episodes of a popular TV show, Game of Thrones, Season 7.

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WriterForcing: Generating more interesting story endings
Prakhar Gupta | Vinayshekhar Bannihatti Kumar | Mukul Bhutani | Alan W Black

We study the problem of generating interesting endings for stories. Neural generative models have shown promising results for various text generation problems. Sequence to Sequence (Seq2Seq) models are typically trained to generate a single output sequence for a given input sequence. However, in the context of a story, multiple endings are possible. Seq2Seq models tend to ignore the context and generate generic and dull responses. Very few works have studied generating diverse and interesting story endings for the same story context. In this paper, we propose models which generate more diverse and interesting outputs by 1) training models to focus attention on important keyphrases of the story, and 2) promoting generating nongeneric words. We show that the combination of the two leads to more interesting endings.

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Prediction of a Movie’s Success From Plot Summaries Using Deep Learning Models
You Jin Kim | Yun Gyung Cheong | Jung Hoon Lee

As the size of investment for movie production grows bigger, the need for predicting a movie’s success in early stages has increased. To address this need, various approaches have been proposed, mostly relying on movie reviews, trailer movie clips, and SNS postings. However, all of these are available only after a movie is produced and released. To enable a more earlier prediction of a movie’s performance, we propose a deep-learning based approach to predict the success of a movie using only its plot summary text. This paper reports the results evaluating the efficacy of the proposed method and concludes with discussions and future work.