Month: December 2008

The Fiction Scale and Book Languages

I’d like to post the Book Languages, as deciphered by a good friend of mine, Liana. She’s a genius. Just as there are many different languages that people speak, there are different book languages, too. Which one do you speak, I’m wondering? Or are you a mix?

Book Languages

The Literalist- A literalist is someone who can’t appreciate fiction. Fantasy writing irks them because they want something grounded and factual. Magic is something they neither support nor understand. Their libraries are filled with biographies, text books, and treatises on economics and political structure. When a Literalist writes they speak in facts and figures. Everything they say has been thought out and fully researched.

The Technical Reader- A TR is someone who enjoys fiction, but only if the logic makes sense. They are irked by historical anachronisms, impossible fighting moves, unexplained science, and illogical characters. They prefer hard core sci-fi with slow travel and visual time delays (speed of light you know), well-researched historical fiction, and realistic thrillers. When they write it’s usually done slowly and carefully, research is done, technical terms used, and if the character’s act like idiots you know the TR Author has either gone senile or is up to no good.

The Fanciful Reader- A FR is almost the exact opposite of a Technical Reader or Literalist. They are irked by technical details and dry recitation of facts. They want magic, romantic characters, epic sagas, and undying love. When an FR writes they will pen their greatest fantasies. Characters will be beautiful, thoughtful, and intelligent, the land will be one of milk and honey, and everything will end Happily Ever After. Expect to see fairy tales on their shelf, or a copy of Twilight.

The Romantic- Like the Fanciful Reader the Romantic isn’t interested in technical details.W hat they want is searing passion and good descriptive passages. These are the people who read Romeo and Juliet and watch the Titanic and cry every time. They won’t accept dumbed-down characters, and aren’t interested in epic battles or sagas. When a Romantic writes they focus on dialogue and interpersonal relationships. They want to speak to the soul and senses. And they have no problem with ending the book tragically.

The Symbolist- Closely related to the Fanciful Reader and the Romantic the Symbolist is searching for deeper meaning in their books. They are irked by irrelevant facts and books that are “light and fluffy.” A Symbolist wants to walk away from a book and feel like they’ve been edified. Their library shelves are filled with classical works and possiblly a diploma in Liberal Arts. They want to reread a book and find new meaning. When a symbolist writes they add layers of clues, Bonus Rounds, and meaning. Most of their work will be set in the Real World. Very rarely a Symbolist will break out into Genre Fiction and try something like fantasy or sci-fi (think CS Lewis or JRR Tolkein).

The Wildcard – The wild card is a mood reader. They have an eclectic selection of books in their library and can be fickle fans. A book they are passionate about this week they may be ambivalent about next week. As authors Wildcards tend to favor short stories and poetry. Longer novels are sometimes difficult for them to finish because they have to be in the right mood to write.

On another note, I’d like to introduce The Fiction Scale, as created by my father-in-law. He’s a genius, too. He and Liana need to talk. He describes The Fiction Scale as:

For my own convenience, I rate fiction on a scale that refers to the balance of characterization and plot. When I say “world events” I do not mean “our world events” but “book world events.”

I categorize the books I read on a decimal scale. For example, I would rate the Harry Potter books at about a 5.8. Pride and Prejudice is a solid 1. My own life is a 2.6, so I mostly enjoy reading books in the 5 to 7 range

The Fiction Scale

1. The characters have relationships with each other.

2. The characters have relationships with each other while world events happen vaguely in the background.

3. The characters have relationships with each other while doing things in the background.

4. The characters have relationships with each other while doing interesting things.

5. The characters have relationships with each other AND do interesting things related to world events.

6. The characters do interesting things that shape world events and have relationships with each other in the background.

7. World events compel characters to do exciting things. Relationships are a luxury.

8. World events ARE the real characters. People are just props in the background. Relationships are accidental.

The Breakaway rates as a 4.0

Monarch rates as a 5.0

I like 1 – 5.5 type literature

I’m a Symbolist Reader with a touch of Romantic

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Writing Process, 26 comments