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


this is going to take me a while to analyze myself…I will have to get back to you. of course, once i decide i will probably change my mind and have to come back. 🙂

David Russell Mosley

I’m simply weird. I love good fantasy, but think that most fantasy is not good. Nonsensical names really bother me. I want names rooted in a real language or created one, which is really nonetheless real. However, dry descriptions and long boring lists bother me. I like Verne, but I feel like he spends a little too much time describing and not enough time doing.Basically, I’ll read it if it is well written and the story makes sense given the world created. I loved the Breakaway, but wanted more of the world. I’ve begun to loathe Eragon, because it’s nearly nonsensical and illogical, even logic plays a large role in it.I’m an eclectic reader.

I think what I write falls in the 5-8 category depending on the book and scene. There are relationships, but I don’t write books strictly about relationships.For Book Languages, I’m a mutant cross between a Technical and a fanciful Reader. I love happy endings, but I want intelligent character and a tight plot. I don’t read much fantasy because the characters tend to wander, and I don’t like the nonsensical names either. I do love good sci-fi, but it has to be good. But, honestly, I read a little bit of everything.

Strange… I don’t feel that any of those five descriptions fits me right… I read for characters who make an impact on their world while developing into stronger people… I can’t really stand non-fiction or straight romance, I don’t like meaningless fluff and my stories don’t have to be strictly realistic, but they do have to make some rational sense. I guess I’m unclassifiable. Either that or there needs to be a sixth catagory for folks like me…

As I do with all these personality generalization things, I have a problem with the Book Languages. They seem to me to represent extremes. Does anyone really read just *one* type of literature? Speaking for myself, my literary moods are many and mercurial, and most of the languages listed could probably be applied to me at one time or another.I suppose I’m closest to a Technical Reader (I stopped reading Dragonlance because I couldn’t stand all the character discrepancies and continuity errors), but I am willing to suspend disbelief and become a Fanciful Reader if the book in question is entertaining enough. However, I can’t stand when authors try to force the happy ending down your throat. In my opinion, David Eddings ruined a couple of his series by having every single major and secondary character fall in love with and marry another major/secondary character. It felt so… Disney. Only worse. I like a little romance, but come on! I enjoy books full of symbolism and deeper meanings, but I like to intersperse them with the “light and fluffy” stuff. I’ve also been known to read dry histories and books on science. By choice. In my leisure time. I’m weird, I know.This post has gotten much longer than I intended, but I must go on a little longer and praise the esteemed Mr. Mosley for his astute appraisal of Eragon. I fell for the hype and bought the book, and decided the most remarkable thing about it was the age of the author. It’s quite a feat to be published so young. Otherwise, I thought the book was yet another badly written Tolkein rip-off, and had much the same feel as the short stories I wrote in high school. So why wasn’t my substandard nonsensical crap published, too? *pouts*

Glass Dragon- Because your parents don’t own a publishing company. Most people won’t fit just one literary type. Some do though. But I think most well-read people are a cross between multiple genres.

Solvang Sherrie

I’m definitely a Fanciful Reader, but I prefer a good ending to a happy ending. Like I HATE the Disney version of the Little Mermaid. The true ending was so much more beautiful. I love old fairy tales because they didn’t always have happy endings and they were often quite violent. But I also love historical fiction and a lot of nonfiction books. About the only thing I don’t read are romance novels. So predictable. I’m not sure where that puts me on the other languages.I love the fiction scale!

I don’t know, Annette, you sound like me… And I classify myself as Symbolist with a dash of Technical, even though I write and read genre fic. After all, CS Lewis and JRRT are listed as symbolists ;)On the scale, I’ll read anything up to a 7. Writing-wise, I’m probably a 3-6.:)

Either a Fanciful reader or a Symbolist! Will come back and tell what Idyllically Human is on the fiction scale.

4-6 for Idyllically Human.

I think I’d be a symbolist-romantic hybrid… does that make me a symantic?

These proposed book languages aren’t quite so pat as Chapman’s love languages, but they are fascinating nonetheless. I can only describe myself as a Technical Fantasist. Or, more precisely, I should characterize myself as a Yin-Yang amalgam of the Technical and Fanciful Reader with a dot of the Incurable Romantic in each side. (And while I’m making allusions to things Chinese I suppose I am obligated to state that the character shown is romanized in the Pinyin fashion as “qi” and pronounced “chee”. It is the name of a tree.)I am perfectly willing to suspend disbelief as long as the author’s construct is absolutely self-consistent and not ludicrous.

Shelly and Bobby

okay Michelle, you got me and your mother thinking. I have always considered myself a Romantic, but after reading your descriptions, I believe I fit better into the Symbolist category. I should note that I write nearly every day on my job strictly in technical terms – boring, but necessary. Your mother said she doesn’t like to analyze, she just likes to read!

Becky:Okay, you’ve had a few days to think about it. Made a decision yet? :)Even one you might change? You sound like a Wildcard.David:My hubby was quite impressed with your answer. He agreed on almost every point you made! Thanks for sharing!Lei:Yep, you’re right on the border of what I like to read in the 5-8 category!Anette:So does the sixth category fit you? Curious . . .Becca:Yup, you’re a Wildcard, methinks.I really need to read the Eragon series to see what you’re talking about.Sherrie:Gotta agree on the Disney endings. Yikes! How did they manage to get it all so wrong?*grumbles*Guess they’re for kids. . .Inky:Interesting how you vary with reading and writing. :)Marie:Yup! I’ll like your new book, for sure. Right in my range. And you’re a Symbolist, too. Yes, we are twins. *hugs twin*Meghan:LOL!!! Well, if you mean semantic, that’s an interesting twist and meaning on the word!Steve:I knew you would have some Romantic in you. 🙂 Dad:Yup, Symbolist. Just like me. Big surprise there! 🙂

None of these really fit me. 😛 I can like variables of each–I like everything from really cheesy fluff to deeper fiction (even if I don’t “get” it that often), technical SF (though it’s not my favorite, I will read it) and outrageous fantasy and horror and yes, some mainstream… anything that can hold my fancy and attention. 😉 I like satisfactory endings, happy or not (and yes, I do like Twilight Zone endings as well %-) if they’re done well).I can ignore logic flaws if I’m enjoying the story; made up names with no reason are fine. I actually like some level of technical detail so I can understand better (just not at the cost of interesting story and characters). I especially like technical ‘magic’ explanations, whether plausible or not–I like to see the rules.Symbolism is great, just don’t expect me to get it half the time or notice it when it’s there. ;)On the Fiction Scale (which is pretty cool!) I think I’m usually somewhere between 2.5 and 6. I’m not usually interested in much higher as I find it more fun to poke characters than epic world events. 😉 Anyway, I’ve rambled long enough… great post, Glam!~Merc

Looks like I’m a Fanciful reader, with a touch of Romantic and Symbolist for flavoring. I like the ideal and fantastic, especially when it is shown through characters learning through exploration and relationship interactions. It is doubly meaningful if the symbolism can have parallels to apply to my own life.

I’m definitely a Symbolist with a touch of the Romantic, and on the scale a 1-6.

:)I’m a symbolist and wildcard person. I like to find the deeper message in books. But I also like books that are logically brilliant (if that makes any sense). I read books that fit my mood. On my shelf I have mystery, suspense, fantasy, romance, horror, classics, and fairy-tale type stories.

While I am definitely an eclectic reader, I am not a wildcard reader. I am certainly a wildcard writer, however.

So, I’ve thought about it and I have a nice mix of Literalist-Technical Reader-Symbolist with a hint of the Romantic.

Merc:Great comment, Merc! I like your ramblings. :)Alicia:I knew you had Fanciful in you!Steve:Why does this not surprise me? *chuckling*Emily:Interesting mix there! Makes me feel like I understand you better now… 🙂

Amber Lynn Argyle

I’d have to say I’m a mix. I like all kinds of fiction. I have the same irks as a TR, but I love magical systems that are well rounded. But I certainly don’t write slow. I also share characteristics with the romantic and FR. My favorites being historical and fantasy, but not much nonfiction. On the fiction scale, I write a 6.5.

Judging by the types of books I call my favorites, I would have to say I’m somewhere between Fanciful and Romantic- although my dad and brothers taught me to appreciate epic battles and sagas… The practical side of me prefers Technical (I just can’t bring myself to get rid of my textbooks), but I have to be reading an engaging fiction at the same time to keep me satisfied. Oh dear, guess I’m a wildcard?Here’s a question for you, Michelle (and Dad, too, if you see this): based on my somewhat abstract analysis, are there books or series you would recommend to me? I have a few long weeks ahead!Thanks for the fun post- made me think!

Amber:A 6.5 on the fiction scale. That’s interesting! Most of my readers here have rated themselves in a different range. Cool!Katy:Yes, you’re a wildcard, I think. :)Um… books to read. You can always help me edit Monarch. *puppy dog eyes*

It's the character for the number 7, FWIW. 😉

Reading scale, probably a 1 to 5, maybe some 6. Writing scale, probably 3-4.5 . . . if half-points are allowed. :)And for the other styles… none of the above. I read and write in order to experience or allow others to experience a Karl Barth-like encounter.In the end, the walk-away for me is, "Woah, I really felt something there and… hmmm, now I think I understand something or am thinking about something, but I don't remember having an intellectual experience."Or something like that.Very neo-orthodox, existential mumbo jumbo.

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