Welcome back, today we’re going to talk about why rule based story generation sucks and I’ll also present some code that you can use to create your very own rule based story generator!

But before we get started I’d like to draw your attention to the title header image I used in my last article Rule Based Story Generation which you should also read because it helps add context to this article… anyway, back to the image. It presents a set of scrabble blocks that spell out:


I added over the image my usual title text in Pacifico font and placed it as though to subtly imply it too might simply be a randomly selected block of text just slotted in wherever it would fit.

Combined the new “title rule” it reads:

“LETS GO ON ‘Rule Based Story Generation’ ADVENTURES”.

Perhaps it may be too subtle, I know! 😛

In any case, I like how the scrabble tiles capitalization is broken with the script.

It almost illustrates the sort of mishmash process we’re using to build sentences that are sometimes almost elegant though much of the time, ridged and repetitive.

It’s important to understand that developing an artificial intelligence that can write as well as a human is still an open (unsolved) area of research, which makes it a wonderfully exciting challenge for us to work on and we’re really only just getting started! 😉

Of course this isn’t as far as we can go (see Rule Based Story GenerationA Halloween Tale) and I am currently working on how we go even farther than I already have… but we’ll get there.


A Flawed Stepping Stone

Rule based story generation is an important, yet flawed, stepping stone in helping us understand the problem of building a writer bot that will write best sellers!

Despite the flaws with using rules to create stories, we may in the future partially rely on “bot written” rules in a layered generative system so none of this is necessarily wrong, just woefully incomplete, especially by my standards as I like to publish fully functioning prototypes… more or less. 😉

Before I present the code however let’s briefly look at why rules suck!


Reasons Rule Based Generation Sucks

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of reasons why rule based story generation sucks:

  • Some rules create Ambiguity.
  • Lack of correlation between Independent Clauses.
  • Complete lack of Dependent Clauses that will need to correlate with their associated independent clauses.
  • Run-On Sentences are WAY easy to generate!
  • Random, or hard coded Verb Tense & Aspect is used.
  • Forced, improper or unusual grammar.
  • Random events, and no cohesive growth of ideas over time (lack of Narrative).
  • No Emergence means that all meaningful possibilities are input by a person… manually! 😦
  • Placeholder for anything that I may have forgot to include here.

If we intend to build the “writer bot” AI described in Bot Generated Stories & Bot Generated Stories II we will have to find ways of mitigating or eliminating the issues in this list!

We could be proactive at trying to resolve some of these issues with the rule based system but most of our efforts will boil down to writing additional rules (if this, then that) preconditions and really… nobody has time for that!

Besides, if a person is writing the rules… even if the specific details selected for a sentence are random or possibly even stochastic (random but based on probability), wouldn’t you still say that the person who wrote the rules, kinda sorta wrote the text too?

I mean, even if there’s an asterisk next to the writers name and in itty-bitty tiny text somewhere it says (*written with the aid of a bot) or vice versa, it’s still hard to say that whoever wrote the rules and made the lists didn’t write the resulting text… to some extent, right?

If you agree… disagree? Feel free to present your argument in the comments!

Ultimately for the reasons listed above (and a fair amount of testing) I am confident that hand written rule based story generation is not the way to go!


New Rules

In addition to a new rule (name action.) I am including a little something special in the code below.

I call them Rule 8 & Rule 9 because they were written in that order but what makes then unique from rules (1 – 7 which I wrote) is that they were effectively written by a bot.

What I mean when I say the bot “wrote the rule” is that the pattern used in the rules was extracted by a learning bot (pattern matching algorithm/process).

Here are examples of the new rules:

Rule 7

Axton went fishing.
Briana mopped the floor.
Kenny felt pride.
Ryann played sports.
Chaim felt content.
Alaina road a horse.
Elian setup a tent.
Brian had fun.
Meadow heard a noise.
Jewel learned a new skill.


Rule 8 – Bot Generated Rule

Freya handled Along the ship!
Bethany dipped Inside the dollar!
Kyla appointed Regarding the scenery!
Aryanna filed yieldingly the honoree.
Madeline demanded of the pannier!
Kailey repaid there the courage.
Finley came With the button.
Sawyer criticised owing to majestically icicle!
Armani included again down canopy!
Genevieve snapped Behind the computer!


Rule 9 – Bot Generated Rule

Ulises besides Maxim approved the scraper Near.
Nova that is Louisa ringed the scraper Down.
Alec besides Killian eased the cope Outside.
Sylas consequently Zain beat safely exit Above.
Conrad yet Alfredo owed the definition Within.
Danica that is Jackson paid the sweater fully.
Hugh and Kori substituted the pitching heavily.
Julissa but Colton separated the lie Down.
Liberty but Barbara reformed the lamp kissingly.
Zion yet Rosemary ascertained true fat under.
Neither Desiree nor Nadia filed the protocol Ahead of.
Neither Rudy nor Rowan aided the weedkiller commonly.
Grace indeed Jad caused the beast best.
Jaelynn besides Maddux cheered the panda Against.
Ari yet Ayla elected the seaside without.
Blakely moreover Karsyn stimulated jealousy shadow owlishly.
Prince further Lennon exhibited the worm Except.
Clay thus Rohan embraced the tsunami each.
Sabrina but Avery stressed far paste Excluding.
Gregory so Dallas engaged new egghead clearly.
Neither Lydia nor Walter escaped naturally margin previously.
Dylan namely Elaina kept suspiciously shed oddly.
Neither Jedidiah nor Karsyn devised the bathhouse kookily.
Kareem so River pointed wetly yoga Ahead of.
Ansley accordingly Alessandro laughed the brood By.
Omar otherwise Sofia obtained the clipper Per.
Walker so August summoned the tile yeah.
Remy moreover Cody raised the handball loyally.
Aadhya so Adelynn allocated the fear Amidst.
Mohamed likewise Hudson inspected the hyphenation Like.

While that does make generating rules easier and it also can aid in resolving some of the issues with generating stories using rules, it really only amounts to an interesting “babble” generator at best, though perhaps it could be coupled with several other systems in layers to create something closer to a story?

Maybe through the use of “rewrite rules” that could fix the verb tenses and pronouns perhaps?

Here are the results of 15 randomly selected rules:

Leanna Odom is a woman but to the south of a
sports stadium, a bird built a nest for in the
zoo, a guy road a bike nor next to a city jail, a
car got a flat tire for Ricky Solis is very garish
and outside a farm , robots attacked yet Armani
Lowery is very attentive but Jeffrey and Zaniyah
permitted the extent Excluding. nor Azariah seemed
fatally the route! but Maddux proved hopefully
monthly wasp! nor Blaine wrote a poem. and inside
an abandoned ghost town, a book was written and
Neither Seth nor Callan behaved the steeple In
addition to. but Lucille ate a nice meal. and
Lorelei meditated.


Below is the code for Generate.php and it’s the main program file. It uses Functions.php as well as some text files and you can find all the files you need for this project over on my GitHub for free: RuleBasedStoryGeneration on Github

// include all the functions
// set up the parts of speech array
// functions will globally point to this variable
$pos = LoadPartsOfSpeech();
$number_of_sentences = 30; // how many sentences/rules are generated/used
$story = ''; // the string we concatenate rules on to
// for whatever number you set $number_of_sentences to...
foreach(range(1, $number_of_sentences, 1) as $number){
    $rule_subject = random_int(1, 3);
    // randomly determine the type of rule to use,
    // randomly select the rule, compute its result and concatenate with 
    // the existing $story
    if($rule_subject == 1){ // action or event
        $rule_subject = random_int(1, 4);
        if($rule_subject <= 3){
             $story .= Rule(1); // event
        elseif($rule_subject == 4){
             $story .= Rule(7); // action
    elseif($rule_subject == 2){ // people related
        $rule_subject = random_int(1, 6);
        if($rule_subject == 1){
             $story .= Rule(2);
        elseif($rule_subject == 2){
             $story .= Rule(3);
        elseif($rule_subject == 3){
             $story .= Rule(4);
        elseif($rule_subject == 4){
             $story .= Rule(5);
        elseif($rule_subject == 5){
             $story .= Rule(6);
        elseif($rule_subject == 6){
             $story .= Rule(7);
    elseif($rule_subject == 3){ // bot generated
        $rule_subject = random_int(1, 2);
        if($rule_subject == 1){
             $story .= Rule(8);
        elseif($rule_subject == 2){
             $story .= Rule(9);
    // if this is not the last sentence/rule concatenate a conjunction
    if($number <= ($number_of_sentences - 1)){
        $story .= $pos['space'] . Get($pos['conjunctions']['pure']) . $pos['space'];
// after the loop wrap the text at 50 chars and output the story
echo wordwrap($story, 50, PHP_EOL);
 * Example Output
Jayleen ended By the lip! so Jada called a family
member. nor Aidan Lester is gifted and Emma Walton
is very clumsy and Grey proceeded widely literally
runner. or Santana Norman is a man yet Nico
Bartlett is very pitiful yet Aliana Browning is
rich and Rowan introduced Past the colloquia. but
Holly built a robot. so Morgan Dorsey is a person
for London fooled Against the cappelletti. but
Neither Emory nor Angel angered the order angrily.
or Hezekiah Beasley is very panicky and Leighton
did almost vivaciously author. so Foster Justice
is a man but Rory Parker is a beautiful person so
Reagan Rivera is a person but Kai Zamora is clever
nor beyond a newspaper company, dinosaur bones
were uncovered yet beyond a houseboat, a bird
built a nest so Kyle Goff is a man or on the
mountains, a new species of insect was identified
nor Galilea Mckinney is very worried or Gunner Orr
is very guilty but Otto Gaines is a small man nor
Gia Hendrix is powerful and Robert Mcdaniel is a
beautiful man so to the south of a newspaper
company, science breakthroughs were made so
Carmelo Rodgers is very witty


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