March 27th, 2010

inverarity

Inverarity's School of Literary Analysis (plus a tiny, petty rant)

First, the tiny, petty rant:

For some reason, Yahoo!Mail is not playing nicely with Firefox. I can log in, but it takes forever to actually get to my inbox and be able to read messages. I suspect it's because Yahoo! has done something that Noscript and/or Adblock Plus doesn't like. Is anyone else having similar issues? MSIE logs in and retrieves mail just fine. But when I log into Yahoo!Mail with IE, and then click review links to MNFF, I am reminded just how much the Internet sucks without Firefox + NoScript + Adblocker. Everything is all annoying, flashing banners!

(Yes, the obvious solution is to not use Yahoo!Mail. I actually don't for any of my "real" email, but my Y! address is where all my fanfic-related stuff goes.)

Inverarity's School of Literary Analysis



Traditionally, fiction is said to be composed of five elements: Characters, Setting, Plot, Theme, and Style. There are other interpretations; "Style," for example, is sometimes referred to as Point-of-View, but that ignores everything about the writing style except the choice of first-vs-second-vs-third person limited-vs-omniscient, etc. Some lists include Conflict as a separate element, but I regard that as part of the Plot. And you can find other lists that break it down into slightly different ways, but I'm going to stick with these five.

So, I was wondering why some people hate certain authors that others love, and why you can look on Amazon or GoodReads and find two people who are both seemingly intelligent, thoughtful, critical reviewers with similar tastes, and one will give a book one star and another will give the same book five stars. Obviously, sometimes it's just going to be quirks of the individual and/or the book: I really hated a certain plot twist that someone else likes, or a character that I love totally gets on another reader's nerves. Predicting tastes and value judgments is a tricky business (and one that has big money behind it: Netflix is still only mediocre at predicting how I'll rate a given movie, and I find that Amazon's recommendations are usually at least in the ballpark of what I like to read, but their algorithm can also produce wildly inappropriate suggestions.)

Anyway, I propose the following theory: there are three kinds of readers.

Like any theory that attempts to sort everyone in the world into one of three categories, this is not to be taken too seriously, but humor me. I'm actually working on this as a paradigm for future book reviews, so feel free to give your input. (Also, I apply the same judgments to fan fiction.)

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Read the stuff inside the cut for an explanation; yes, you must choose one. Pretend I'm holding a gun to your head. :P

Poll #1543927 What type of reader are you?

Which of these three is MOST important to you in a story?

Story
10(58.8%)
Characters
7(41.2%)
Style
0(0.0%)

Which of these three is LEAST important to you in a story?

Story
2(11.8%)
Characters
1(5.9%)
Style
14(82.4%)