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Thread: Enhancing Our Grading System

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    :?: Enhancing Our Grading System

    This thread is where we discuss the possible enhancement of our grading system. Sorry for possible inconsistencies - posts have been copied here from Round 2 threads. I tried to add clarifications, but may have missed something.

    Re: 'Salem's Lot grading in Round 2

    Quote Originally Posted by mcdonaldj View Post
    Surprised to see ratings so low - one of the best behind IT and Gunslinger in my opinion.
    yes. It is because the system needs perfectioning. I will have to give It, my favorite King book ever (as it is yours) a B on "strength of plot", and I have already given same to The Stand. I really really do not think we love King for his plots (mainly nonexistent) or endings (often hated by most)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jean View Post
    yes. It is because the system needs perfectioning.
    Jean, if you have anything in mind, I'd love to discuss it with you.

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    Blah - as much as I loved the series, this one almost killed me from ever reading it.
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    Just substitute 'Strength of Plot' with 'Strength of Story'.

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    yes

    King has wonderful stories, but they are not always fitted into good plots. The question now is, whether or not it is important, and to what extent, to the quality of a novel.

    pablo: I think this version of grading, the one we've always had, is superb, generalily speaking, but maybe now that we've collected some statistics of voting over the years we can begin thinking of reajusting it specially for King. Maybe we should dedicate the next year to discussing the possible readjustments, site-wide. What biomieg said sounds very good to me, and maybe working all together we might have other great ideas as well

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    the same happened to me. The novel just wasn't enjoyable. All the same, the plot - the main idea, the travel, the meetings, the flashback, the events - is superb, the main character classic (the others not bad, either), and the ending unforgettable. All the three As, however, do not make up for the stilty writing, trite philosophy and overall puerility of the novel.

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    Also not sure that what King does is Character Development. He's very good at Characterization -- he creates and presents characters who are believable and affecting... but only sometimes do the events they experience actually change them in meaningful ways.

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    I just thought about it when I tried to grade Pet Sematary. There is no character development, or no characters to speak of - but it's the analysis of what is happening inside father's soul, all the evolutions of his grief and obsession what makes the book, so it sure has something to do with the second question of the poll. Maybe it's just "psychology" rather than "development"; I personally would much rather speak of soul, but I realize that it is not a widely accepted term.

    There are some developing characters, of course - Harold and Larry, with their opposite vectors, come to mind immediately - but I agree it is not very often.

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    Re: The Gunslinger grading in Round 2 (replying to Jean's grading it as AAA)

    Hmmm, but if you didn't like it...

    I think we need a better grading system. I can't give a book I didn't like an A so I've just been voting based on my overall feelings of the book.
    Only the gentle are ever really strong.

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    It's funny how these votes pan out for me. I gave Pet Semetary A A A, but there are plenty of these Round 2 books I like better (or think are better books) but by these categories I had to rate lower.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that this 3-category grading system does not reflect how I really would rank these books as far as my overall assessment of enjoyment or entertainment value is concerned.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heather19 View Post
    Hmmm, but if you didn't like it...

    I think we need a better grading system. I can't give a book I didn't like an A so I've just been voting based on my overall feelings of the book.
    that's how I voted the two previous times, but now I feel it is not the right thing to do. The plot and the rest of the current grading criteria may be awesome, and still one may not like the book, being dissatisfied, for example, with the writing. I think, for example, that Wizard and Glass has the best plot imaginable, and one of the best King has ever created - and still I am very unhappy with the book. And vice versa: my favorite writer, Dickens, has only created absurd, sloppy plots, at the same time convoluted and inconsistent - and I love every word he wrote, and there's nothing better for me than his novels, pathetic as they are, plot-wise.

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    So it's agreed we're sticking to this system this year. Yes? So, I think it might help if pablo detailed his own votes and reasoning for numerous examples in this round, just to better illustrate the intention of the existing standards.
    Anyhow, I'm sure we're all grateful to him for designing them. I know that I am certainly quite impressed by his work in most respects on this forum, for one person at least.

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    Well, first, thanks for the gratitude, but I wasn't the one who designed the polls, actually. It was Aaron, and I believe it's a fair and balanced system, touching upon all the main parts of a novel or collection. I think it was and is a very good system to gauge popular opinion based on a three-tiered system. That said, I think a reworking of the system is certainly something to look at, I think there is always room for improvement. Once this contest is done, we'll start a new thread for suggestions and opinions on how to evolve the CRAs going forward.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jean View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by divemaster View Post
    It's funny how these votes pan out for me. I gave Pet Semetary A A A, but there are plenty of these Round 2 books I like better (or think are better books) but by these categories I had to rate lower.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that this 3-category grading system does not reflect how I really would rank these books as far as my overall assessment of enjoyment or entertainment value is concerned.
    Absolutely. I have been saying the same since the start of this round; maybe our voting experience has accumulated in years, and now it's time for some changes. I will collect all observations to the same effect, and then we'll have a duscussion of how we'd rather grade the books.
    That's where I've been voting based on how much I enjoyed the book overall. I guess I'm taking the questions in a much broader term than you guys. I just can't give an A to a book I don't like (unless it has a redeeming feature in one of the categories). And vise versa, if I loved it, I'm pretty unlikely to give it a C in a category. My criteria is one - how much I enjoyed the overall plot or storyline to the book, two - how much I enjoyed the characters (not necessarily their development, but whether or not I thought they were strong or entertaining), and three - what I thought about the ending. Sorry if this discussion should go elsewhere.


    Back on topic with this thread I rated this book AAA. This one holds a special place in my heart. I loved it.
    Only the gentle are ever really strong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jean View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by divemaster View Post
    It's funny how these votes pan out for me. I gave Pet Semetary A A A, but there are plenty of these Round 2 books I like better (or think are better books) but by these categories I had to rate lower.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that this 3-category grading system does not reflect how I really would rank these books as far as my overall assessment of enjoyment or entertainment value is concerned.
    Absolutely. I have been saying the same since the start of this round; maybe our voting experience has accumulated in years, and now it's time for some changes. I will collect all observations to the same effect, and then we'll have a duscussion of how we'd rather grade the books.
    I think for the novels you could list the main characters and we can rate them on a likable scale (1-5 or 10). Also, rate the plot and ending (from good to bad). For the collections, list all the stories to rate separately. The problem now is we have to lump all the stories together as a group to rate them.

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    Nah: we have an appended categories sideshow tourney for that kind of thing. Rating whole collections (of stories and of characters) is fine, IMO, for the main "best book" contest, as long as it stays apples to apples. Yes, there may be room for improvement in this, but I'm happy doing best short and most likable protagonists plus most unlikable antagonists in that other area.

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    Re: Pet Sematary grading in Round 2

    I still haven't voted.

    I can't make myself give a B for characters in a novel where no character development is needed.

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    So give it an A if you like the characters or C if you disliked? I don't think a book has to have character development to have strong characters.
    Only the gentle are ever really strong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jean View Post
    I still haven't voted.

    I can't make myself give a B for characters in a novel where no character development is needed.
    Jean, by this and other posts of yours I think you might have a unique position on what "character development" is. I don't believe one should be looking at it from a standpoint of "how does this character change or evolve over the course of the story." Some well-written and interesting characters may not undergo any sort of "development" in that sense.

    To me (and I suspect most others), character development refers to how well the author has created an interesting, complex character. For example, Stu Redman in The Stand. You may not think he "develops" over the course of the novel--that indeed he's the same ole' Stu throughout. But that's ok! The question you should be asking is "how well did the author develop this character that he presents to us?"

    Some authors use characters to merely move the plot along. Agatha Christie, for example. No one could accuse any of her characters from being very developed, but they serve the purpose of the mystery. Koontz is hit or miss. But I think for the most part King gives us complex, well-developed characters. To me, if I've finished a novel and feel like I know that person, what makes him tick; that I'm able to tap into his mind and emotions--that is a well-developed character regardless of whether he changes over the course of the story.

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    That's reasonable, divemaster, but I don't think it's true that Jean has a "unique" position on the term or that "most" others define it as you do; that is, based on my own (partially completed) studies as an English Literature/Theatre double major. I wrote a couple of plays and analyzed MANY as an actor and director for the stage... I mean, I studied prose as well, of several kinds, but my own understanding of "Character Development" will probably always bear the imprint of the Stanislavski position. I would call what you're talking about "Characterization" or "Character Background." Of course, SK is a particular type of writer, and he says himself in the Full Dark, No Stars afterward that he's less interested in "extraordinary people in ordinary situations" than in "ordinary people in extraordinary situations" which is fine and good, we all like his style, I guess, or we wouldn't be members here... but some of us do still have interest in styles of the former kind, sometimes, too. If we SHOULD be concentrating on "how well did the author develop this character that he presents to us?" for the purposes of these awards, then maybe it should be relabeled to simply "Characters."

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    I measure character development as a correlation of how well I feel like I know the character by the end. How they feel? How they think? What motivates them. Can I hear their voice in my head when I am reading their dialogue. For that, I think that character development less in this novel than in other King novels. Thus, I gave a B. However, I agree with Jean, in that character development is not necessary in this story.

    BTW, maybe it was because we know a little backstory about him, but I though Judd was the most clearly developed character and he was an extra.
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    divemaster - being a foreigner, I wasn't sure in which sense the word "development" was used in the definition of the category.

    Personally, I never judged the strength of a character in a book by their changing or not changing. I don't think I ever said I did, either.

    Quote Originally Posted by pathoftheturtle View Post
    If we SHOULD be concentrating on "how well did the author develop this character that he presents to us?" for the purposes of these awards, then maybe it should be relabeled to simply "Characters."
    Maybe, yes. Tonight I will make a special thread for our ideas on improving the grading, and move all the relevant posts there; then we'll see where we are.

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    Re: TWL grading in Round 2

    I liked the cliffhanger ending. But you're right, if it were a single book, that would be a crappy place to end it. But wouldn't all the DT books' endings suck if we were just looking at them individually? Book One: Walking walking walking, no tower. Book Two: Walking walking walking, no tower. Etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shannon View Post
    I liked the cliffhanger ending. But you're right, if it were a single book, that would be a crappy place to end it. But wouldn't all the DT books' endings suck if we were just looking at them individually? Book One: Walking walking walking, no tower. Book Two: Walking walking walking, no tower. Etc.
    That's why I want next time to try excluding the DT books from CRA, and maybe have a DT CRA separately. I'll start a thread tomorrow where we will discuss all possible variations and ways to enhance this event; I'll copy the relevant posts there.

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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jean View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Shannon View Post
    I liked the cliffhanger ending. But you're right, if it were a single book, that would be a crappy place to end it. But wouldn't all the DT books' endings suck if we were just looking at them individually? Book One: Walking walking walking, no tower. Book Two: Walking walking walking, no tower. Etc.
    That's why I want next time to try excluding the DT books from CRA, and maybe have a DT CRA separately. I'll start a thread tomorrow where we will discuss all possible variations and ways to enhance this event; I'll copy the relevant posts there.
    I'd actually be all for that. I know I've said it before, but I think the DT votes kinda skew things. We're on a DT site, giving those books an unfair advantage. Also it's hard to judge them on their own knowing the overall story. Personally I'd love to see a ranking without them.
    Only the gentle are ever really strong.

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