I was thinking about the BGL09 Procedural Story session, and an interesting idea came to me in the shower, as such ideas are wont to do. Could we perhaps use crowdsourcing to research the problem? What I’m thinking is a web game, something along the lines of Kingdom of Loathing, where each narrative is generated automagically, responding on the fly to the player’s choices (using such verbs as the game provides), and the player can rate each beat as “canny” or “uncanny”.
That may be getting ahead of the problem, though, as it’s still difficult just to generate believable and interesting prose to describe a beat. That could be a first step, then, using a similar approach. Maybe just a random story generator, without any game-like element, and the player reader has a similar canny/uncanny rating system.
That’s not very interesting for the reader, though. How about generating beat skeletons (e.g. W does X to Y with Z) and having the player/reader/writer write the prose? Then how do we make sure the prose actually matches the skeleton? Yet another ranking system? And what’s the incentive for people to participate? (Well, it would be easier than reading a book given the average attention span…)