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Score Cutoff?

saquestor

As a reader, I tend to not look at stories that have a score of less than 7-ish.

Over the 15 or so years I've been a premium member I've found that stories with scores lower than that are generally not something I enjoy spending my time reading.

Why? Various reasons, but mostly poor grammar, lots of typos and often a story structure that leaves something to be desired. And I've observed that it is a rare author that can write an interesting and compelling sex scene. So stories with 'lots of sex' are also ones I usually avoid.

That said, if a story has a good score I might invest the time to read those with 'lots of sex' but just skim over the sex scenes.

So, a couple of questions, 1) do you pay attention to the scores and 2) if you do, do you have a lower cutoff where you don't even bother?

Switch Blayde

@saquestor

So, a couple of questions, 1) do you pay attention to the scores and 2) if you do, do you have a lower cutoff where you don't even bother?


I'm going to piss people off.

My cutoff for not reading a story is quite low, like in the 4s. I do not believe SOL readers are very good at scoring (this is where I'm probably pissing people off).

The longer stories tend to have higher scores, but I've never finished a long story, even one with the score in the 9s. They simply don't keep my interest.

So it's not the score that I primarily use.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

1) Not much. When I do, it's the last thing I look at.

2) No. As SB said most readers don't score stories based on objective issues with the quality of the writing.

Longer stories tend to score better. Also, certain types of stories/content tend to score lower. If you are looking for those kinds of story or stories with those kinds of content, you can't pay that much attention to the scores.

Generally, I will look at the tags first, then the description.

LonelyDad

I normally first look at the description. If it sounds remotely interesting, I will look at the tags to see if any of my squicks are listed. If the story passes those two tests I sometimes look at the score, but usually don't. Especially if it is the early part of the story. My reasoning is that it is not fair to judge the entire story while the author is still setting the scene. Once I start reading, I have some tolerance for typos and poor grammar, but if it gets too bad I quit. What I do after that if I continue reading depends on how well the story develops and whether the plot and story line is something I am enjoying.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
REP

I look at description and story codes.

One aspect of your selection criteria that you may have overlooked is readers give high scores to stories they like. Many of SOL's readers like a lot of sex in the story, and they are willing to overlook the quality of the writing. A well written story with a good plot will often be rated low if the author doesn't give the reader enough sex to make them happy.

Ernest Bywater

@saquestor

1) do you pay attention to the scores


no, so q2 doesn't get involved at all. As a reader I look at the blurb and the first chapter, and either cut or read based on it at that point.

red61544

@saquestor

Of course I pay attention to the scores. Admittedly, there are probably some good stories with low scores, but the best writers on SOL consistently have high scores. Normally, my cutoff is 7.0; if I know and enjoy a particular writer, I'll read his story if it's below 7. I also avoid "stroke story" and "much sex" designations. Usually the descriptions are repetitive and ultimately boring.

Grant

I'll read a story with a low score if it's got a good review, and the reviewer explains why they consider it so, in spite of the stories low rating.

jr88

I won't use scores to disqualify a story, but if I'm doing a search for a new story, I'll usually use a category search sorted by score. If I find a story another way, I only look at description and tags.

moredrowsy
Updated:

Unless the premise interests me a lot, my cut off is a 7.5. I'm harsh but I do find that scores with 500+ votes are agreeable if I were to read it. I have read some that are 6-7 scores that I like but not by much.

JohnPalko

When I'm doing searches I'll set the results to be sorted by score in decending order. (I wounder why ascending order is even an option for searches. Would anyone sensible ever do it that way?)

There are religious or moral issues with certain types of content that make low scores almost a certainty, so I'll look at descriptions of returns from the highest score to those with scores below the median and check them out if the descriptions are both interesting and present reasonable accuracy of spelling and grammar.

I do have to agree with Switch that I've rarely found anything below the score of four that isn't annoying to read because of typos, word usage and bad phrasing.

My experience is that scores above eight usually are scored that well because on the long story / adventure content / sci-fi theme / politics general preferances of the mass of readers here and not story excellence.

Ernest Bywater

@JohnPalko

(I wounder why ascending order is even an option for searches. Would anyone sensible ever do it that way?)


Yes, if searching with the result displaying in name or author order and you want to start from the other end. When you design a search screen it's easier to code all options to be available for all choices and search than to have them turned on or off by other fields.

awnlee jawking

@LonelyDad

Me too.

Scores should be treated with a hefty pinch of salt because there are some strong biases present.

Reviews are also to be regarded with suspicion. Some very mediocre stories (see the Tropes thread) get straight tens.

AJ

Replies:   REP
Switch Blayde

@JohnPalko

I wounder why ascending order is even an option for searches.


I've used it when searching by date.

REP

@awnlee jawking

get straight tens.


Agreed. Many readers like Trope-based stories.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@REP

Agreed. Many readers like Trope-based stories.


Given that at a sufficient level of generalization, every possible story has been written a thousand times before, I would suggest that it is impossible to write a trope free story that is worth reading.

Replies:   REP  richardshagrin
Crumbly Writer

I'll admit, I tend to focus on 7+ stories, but that's mainly when everything else is equal (i.e. when deciding between other issues). Primarily, I look for a dynamic and intriguing story description, though often, if overwhelmed with new additions, I'll simply scan for those with higher scores so I won't have to read all the tripe. Thus scores are merely a short-hand way or cutting through the clutter, rather than a hard-and-fast rule of which stories are worth reading and which aren't.

Also, I've found that a stories initial chapters tend to cement the scores, thus giving an unfair weight to the initial impressions, rather than the overall weight of the complete story. Also, I tend to favor favorite genres, rather than higher rated stories, thus I may pick a lower rated incest story over a higher-rated romance.

REP

@Dominions Son

impossible to write a trope free story that is worth reading.


Sounds logical to me. Of course the younger generations who haven't been exposed to numerous Trope Stories will think its something new and interesting.

Jay Cantrell
Updated:

I appear to be in the minority but I think readers generally get the scoring correct.

Sure, there are some intrinsic biases toward certain writers and certain situations but the readership of SOL is not comprised of trained literary critics.

They enjoy what they enjoy ... and they vote accordingly. They appreciate a well-told story even if it has a few typos (or even a great many typos).

As I've noted before, this is an amateur site (for me, at least) and the readers are typical people with likes and dislikes that show up in the scoring.

So, yes, I tend to be a "score snob" when I'm looking for something new. I'll take a chance on something with a 8.3 score far quicker than I will on something with a 7.3 -- simply because a group of readers that I trust and respect have given it a proverbial "seal of approval."

*Edit for typo*
Probably the only time you'll see that from me!

Replies:   REP  Crumbly Writer
richardshagrin

Depends on your blood type. It might be type O.

Bondi Beach

@saquestor

Over the 15 or so years I've been a premium member I've found that stories with scores lower than that are generally not something I enjoy spending my time reading.


I use scores as a gross measure, unless I know the author or the theme interests me. There are too many stories not to screen somehow.

bb

Bondi Beach
Updated:

@saquestor


That said, if a story has a good score I might invest the time to read those with 'lots of sex' but just skim over the sex scenes.


I've never understood the whole "skim over the sex scenes" thing, honestly. That is, until it started happening to me. I just finished *re-reading* an excellent story, where the sex scenes as I remember them from the first time were competently done, but this time not nearly as interesting as the plot.

Also honestly, aside from the stories on certain themes---sci fi, alternate worlds, military, etc., etc.---SOL stories without sex or with little sex are too frequently not strong enough to carry the plot. Yes, question of personal opinion.

Which also means that the author probably would have trouble writing a compelling sex scene.

I'm repeating myself, but if you haven't read it, get Diana Gabaldon's sex scene writing advice. Short version here, or spring for USD 2.99 and download her longer piece, I Give You My Body. Best sex writing advice I've ever seen.

bb

Replies:   awnlee_jawking  graybyrd
REP

@Jay Cantrell

*Edit for typo*

Probably the only time you'll see that from me!


I generally don't bother correction of a typo, unless it changes the meaning of the post. I'll note significant changes.

awnlee_jawking

@Bondi Beach

Best sex writing advice I've ever seen.


Erm, but where's the sex? In general I prefer female authors because I like more subtlety than 'insert tab A into slot B, rinse and repeat', but such egregious use of metaphor reads like a Golden Raspberry entry.

I think I'll take sex scene advice from other sources, thank you, although others are welcome to disagree.

AJ

Replies:   Bondi Beach
graybyrd

@Bondi Beach

I've never understood the whole "skim over the sex scenes" thing, honestly. That is, until it started happening to me


I find myself clicking through page after page of redundant, plot-bogging, story-stalling sex scenes, most of which seem mindlessly dumped in like a cup of salt into the stew in the hope it will compensate for rotten meat. At some point, it's obvious the story isn't 'there' anywhere. It's bad stew.

Scoring: yes, I'm a score snob. Anything less than 7 is generally not worth the effort. Anything down in the low 6's or [shudder] 5 range indicates the sludge of a warped adolescent stroke fantasy.

But, to be fair, a quick read of the blurb, and maybe two or three paragraphs of the first page, is a better indicator. Also, if the first page contains two or more instances of "very" ... it's dead meat.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
red61544

One of our newer writers on SOL posted this to her blog today:

"I dipped into a story whose reader score was over 9.

I kept an open mind going into Chapter One. Then I forced myself to realize - - shit this guy is good! Way gooder than I am.

Well, guess what? Right hand over left boob, I shall try harder."

If everyone who bitches about scores had that same attitude, the overall quality of stories would improve.

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach
Updated:

@awnlee_jawking


but such egregious use of metaphor reads like a Golden Raspberry entry.


I'm all in favor of raspberries, literal and smashed over part of her body where you can lick them off, or metaphorical. Gabaldon is certainly in favor of metaphor, she makes a point of that, but she also likes pretty straightforward sex.

(I'd lend you my wife's dog-eared copies of her Outlander books, but she'd never let them out of her sight. Let me put it this way: they practically fall open to critical passages.)

This isn't metaphor, although the first one has similes (all quotes from her short piece cited earler):


The road was narrow, and they jostled against one another now and then, blinded between the dark wood and the brilliance of the rising moon. He could hear Jamie's breath, or thought he could—it seemed part of the soft wind that touched his face. He could smell Jamie, smell the musk of his body, the dried sweat and dust in his clothes, and felt suddenly wolf-like and feral, longing changed to outright hunger.


Also this, which many others have noted:


Where most beginning writers screw up (you should pardon the expression) is in thinking that sex scenes are about sex. A good sex scene is about the exchange of emotions, not bodily fluids. That being so, it can encompass any emotion whatever, from rage or desolation to exultation, tenderness, or surprise.

Lust is not an emotion; it's a one-dimensional hormonal response. Ergo, while you can mention lust in a sex-scene, describing it at any great length is like going on about the pattern of the wall-paper in the bedroom. Worth a quick glance, maybe, but essentially boring.

So how do you show the exchange of emotions? Dialogue, expression, or action—that's about the limit of your choices, and of those, dialogue is by far the most flexible and powerful tool a writer has. What people say reveals the essence of their character.


I agree, each to his own.

bb

Bondi Beach
Updated:

@red61544


One of our newer writers on SOL posted this to her blog today:

"I dipped into a story whose reader score was over 9.


Worth noting this quote is from an author whose own story is scoring 8.00. (And deserves it, in my view.)

bb

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Bondi Beach

Where most beginning writers screw up (you should pardon the expression) is in thinking that sex scenes are about sex. A good sex scene is about the exchange of emotions, not bodily fluids.


If the participants don't exchange bodily fluids, at least it's safe sex :)

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Bondi Beach

Worth noting this quote is from an author whose own story is scoring 8.00. (And deserves it, in my view.)


Making educated guesses, I'd say the newer writer has more engaging characterisation.

AJ

Bondi Beach

@awnlee jawking

True, although I think she forgot to put "only" in front of "bodily." Or perhaps "alone" after "fluids." Worth a separate thread, maybe?

Her actual scenes, as opposed to the examples---which are not bad themselves---are pretty hot.

bb

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Crumbly Writer

@Jay Cantrell

Sure, there are some intrinsic biases toward certain writers and certain situations but the readership of SOL is not comprised of trained literary critics.

They enjoy what they enjoy ... and they vote accordingly. They appreciate a well-told story even if it has a few typos (or even a great many typos).

I agree. The story is king. A well-told, captivating story will get by with a slew of errors, while a poorly told, relatively boring story will get roasted for only a few.

Readers make allowances, though some are more bothered by typos than others. Then there are those (like I used to do) who'll copy each chapter into a running file so they can correct mistakes as they read a story. That way, the next time they reread it, it'll be mostly correct.

Crumbly Writer

@graybyrd

I find myself clicking through page after page of redundant, plot-bogging, story-stalling sex scenes, most of which seem mindlessly dumped in like a cup of salt into the stew in the hope it will compensate for rotten meat. At some point, it's obvious the story isn't 'there' anywhere. It's bad stew.

I understand that, since for many (most?) SOL authors, it's necessary to bypass most of the sex scenes as they're highly repetitive and not terribly original. However, I've been badgered by so many readers who decided they weren't interested in the sex scenes, and then bitch that "your story doesn't make any sense", that I've mostly quit writing them!

Unlike others, but use sex scenes as filler, I use them to advance the plot, using them as trust exercises between characters allowing them (the characters) to admit thing they won't even tell me (the author). I find it produces much richer characters, and more intriguing stories. But, if readers don't know enough to go back and reread the sections they blithely skipped to discover what they missed, I'd rather not be bothered wasting my time. "Grrr!"

And it's a shame, really, since my sex scenes are easily my most popular chapters of any given story. The fact that a few idiots ruin the story for everyone by giving me grief is truly unfortunate.

Replies:   graybyrd
Crumbly Writer

@Bondi Beach

From the attached blog post:

Where most beginning writers screw up (you should pardon the expression) is in thinking that sex scenes are about sex. A good sex scene is about the exchange of emotions, not bodily fluids. That being so, it can encompass any emotion whatever, from rage or desolation to exultation, tenderness, or surprise.

I agree. Like any part of a story, if the sex scenes don't advance the plot, or add content to the story (like character development, or a sense of the people and locations), then there's no sense including them.

Too often, sex scenes simply stop the action dead, the author throws in several straight forward "Uh, uh, uh ... Oh God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" lines and that's the entire scene. It's no wonder people routinely skip over them entirely.

It's like the only way the plot of a stroke story advances is by tossing fresh meat on the pile with cookie-cutter copies of buxom young women willing to do anything the protagonist wants without motivation, emotion, empathy or much of anything to say.

* * * * End of Rant * * * *

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

If the participants don't exchange bodily fluids, at least it's safe sex :)

Some of the best sex scenes I've ever read never advance beyond simple petting. Again, there's more to sex (and sex scenes) than reaching the magical happy ending.

graybyrd

@Crumbly Writer

Unlike others, but use sex scenes as filler, I use them to advance the plot, using them as trust exercises between characters


"Pillow Talk" between characters can be an excellent dialogue technique; humorous, serious, tender, brutally honest, or simply playful.

My objection is with the mindless humping, the unlikely orgasmsic screams, the fourteen-year-old with the fourteen-inch schlong (six inches diameter!) and the two-hour wall-banging sessions (in the classroom closet!)

Fortunately, such stories usually score in the low sixes or fives. Thus, scoring is our friend.

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach
Updated:

@graybyrd


and the two-hour wall-banging sessions (in the classroom closet!)


This never used to happen in the old days, of course, because classes lasted one period only. With the commonly used block schedule now, there are lots of two-hour closet opportunities.

What fourteen-year-old would pass up that opportunity?

bb

richardshagrin

@Dominions Son

every possible story has been written a thousand times before

I haven't read any stories that compare and contrast androids and hemorrhoids. Considering the difference between sphere and hemisphere, a hemi-droid might be half an android. Are these the droids you are looking for?

awnlee jawking

@Bondi Beach

Yet it's not what most readers want to read, hence the mummy porn revolution and the move towards more explicitness.

AJ

Replies:   Bondi Beach
saquestor

Regarding sex scenes.

I'd posit that most written sex scenes we see here on SOL are fashioned after the visuals of main stream commercial porn. You know the kind... A zero personality Donkey Dick and an inflated plastic chested bimbo insert tab A into any or all of the available slots.

It should be easy to separate the physical act of sex from the mental act of making love. But sadly, it seems to me that many authors cannot make that distinction.

Comments...

Thanks one and all for your insightful comments. Appreciate your taking the time to reply.

EzzyB

@saquestor

After a while you figure a few things out.

Absolutely the longer the story the higher the score. Longer stories that are not particularly well written will have a higher score.

Sci-fi stories also tend to score higher, anywhere from a half to a full point.

SOL readers are decidedly hetero. While they don't particularly mind FF, including MM content will almost always drop the score significantly. There are a few, but very few, notable exceptions.

Pedo will also drop a story's score, but it's not so much of a big deal now that the content is barred.

The same for other things that can be considered "squicks" to some. WS, Scat, Snuff, etc stories could win a Pulitzer and still score in the sixes.

In the end, voters tend to vote as much for the content of the story as the quality of the story. So if it has the codes you want, and a reasonably decent score, you should be set.

Bondi Beach

@awnlee jawking

Yet it's not what most readers want to read, hence the mummy porn revolution and the move towards more explicitness.


Harlequin's got you covered with their "Spice" series and other lines, where cocks are cocks rather than "male members."

bb

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Bondi Beach

Harlequin's got you covered with their "Spice" series and other lines, where cocks are cocks rather than "male members."

If cocks were like the "male members" of Congress, nothing would ever get accomplished, and 'benefits' would never arise. 'D

BlinkReader

Scores are only one criterion to look at.

Regarding score 7.0 - this is now very old topic here on SOL, and as some kind of rule it could apply - but not as sole rule to choose stories.

Beware - you can have story with score 9.x with very little votes (like 20 or so), and story with score 6.x with same number of votes - in both cases scores are irrelevant.

I'm also looking is this story from known author, and are there codes I'm interesting in.

I'm reading about various authors favorites (my gratitudes to all authors who have taken their time to post their favorites on their pages), story reviews, and this forum too - while trying to find authors and/or stories for me.

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