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Codes and Descriptions

June 18, 2014
Posted at 5:09 pm

Since my biting wit and sense of the whimsical doesn't come across in this blog, I'll try to control myself. Many people thought I was angry or "on the edge of exploding" when I wrote the previous entry about whether or not there was sex in LNDtH. I was not upset or angry, and in fact, had a very nice conversation with the reader who asked the question. I just thought it was an interesting topic for discussion and many of you, indeed, discussed it with me--most agreeing that the story was progressing at the right pace. Thank you.

But it also got me thinking about the way stories are coded and the descriptions we authors write. Sadly, I lost a reader this week because I hadn't coded the story Interracial. I'm not sad that I lost the reader because he never would have started the story in the first place if it had been coded that way, but I am sad that he invested time and energy into reading a story that he wasn't going to enjoy.

Should I code the story "Interracial?" I really don't think so, even though there are both black kids and white kids in the dating group. As I look at it, it's just a bunch of kids and race is something else they'll have to deal with sometime. But the story isn't about an interracial relationship. That's not even a major factor. I look at other things that I could have coded. Maybe I should have coded the story violent since in the first Part, Brian was shoved off his bicycle and robbed, saved a girl from rape by spraying ammonia in the eyes of her attackers, had the shit beat out of him by a gang which he then brought down in the school parking lot. It is possible that if Brian goes through much more of this treatment, I'll put the "violent" tag on it. In fact, I can almost guarantee that in Part IV there will be an episode that will merit that tag. But it hasn't been a major theme of the story.

Sometimes I read descriptions in which it seems like the author has used every tag in the list because there is an episode within the context of the story that contains that little element. When I read the tags, I expect that that is what the story will be about. I've recently added the tags, Masturbation, Petting, and Bi-sexual to the story. In Part II there will be a lot of the first two and I hesitantly add the last tag simply because some of the characters have scenes in which girls like each other as much as they like the boys. Since Brian is the narrator, though, those episodes aren't mentioned unless he's present. With that tag will people think he is bi-sexual. Certainly not my intent.

So I'm interested in knowing how you read the tags in a story. Should every element that the story contains be tagged or just major themes? And then as the story matures, how will people feel about seeing the tag "First" and then having to wait 70 chapters for it? And how good will the "Teenagers" tag be when the kids are out of school and getting jobs? This story will span 15 years and as a result, the ages of the characters, their interests, and their relationships will change. How do you tag for that?

Your input would help on this!