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Writing Stories for Talking Technology

Voice technology helps computers understand what we say and talk back to us. Most of us have already interacted with some flavor of talking software, like Siri, Amazon Alexa, or Google Assistant. As voice technology matures and becomes more common, we’ll see an increasing number and variety of talking devices, software, and even robots.

In the Wall Street Journal, for example, there was a recent article about the socially assistive robot Moxie from Embodied. Moxie is an ambitious example of a device that includes the ability to understand and speak.

The Advent of Storytelling AI

I’ve been imagining the possibilities of talking devices like Moxie, and virtual caregivers like the one from Addison Care, for over a decade. Since the introduction of Amazon’s Alexa line of smart speakers in 2015, we’re starting to see more of these speech-enabled products.

At Chatables our mission is to help authors create stories that can be told by talking devices. Our general term for this new technology is Storytelling AI(™). We believe “conversational stories” are the key to great Storytelling AI(™).

Tips for Writing Conversational Stories

How do you craft a story for a talking virtual character to tell? The process is different from writing a story that someone will read.

  1. Start by envisioning a single character who will tell the story in her or his voice. (Note that the voice will be synthetically generated using Text-to-Speech technology).

  2. Imagine that character as someone sitting across from you in a cafe, or picture the place the character will be as he or she is telling the story.

  3. Try to think of a story this character could tell you over multiple visits to the cafe; a story so engaging that you can’t wait to go back to the cafe to hear more. (It might be a story about something currently going on in the character’s life, or a series of events they experienced in the past).

  4. Find places within the story--generally one per every couple of minutes of storytelling time--where the storyteller can stop to ask you, the listener, a meaningful question.

The final point about adding conversational elements (points in the story where the storyteller engages you in a brief dialogue) is crucial to great conversational storytelling. We’ll discuss the types of questions in a future post. To hear an even deeper dive into the art of Storytelling AI(™), we invite you to our presentations at the upcoming Virtual Chanticleer Authors Conference. There’s still time to register!

Our Writing Guide

We put together a concise overview of our take on writing “conversational stories” in our free writing guide. You can request a copy by filling out the form on the For Authors page of our website.

Our Upcoming Alexa Voice App Experience

The Chatables team is putting the finishing touches on a new storytelling experience. The stories should soon be available on the Amazon Alexa platform, and they'll showcase our Storytelling AI(™) and Talk to the Storyteller(™) approach. We’ve been working with several talented authors and we’re excited for you to hear their stories. You can find out more about the authors here.

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