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Talo Segura

Story genre?

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So I read a new story introduction which went like this: 

It is 1690 and the world is at war: the Great Turkish War rumbles on and the Empire has armies in the field in Hungary and in Lombardy ... And unknown to him greater conflicts by far are beginning in the World Beyond for an elf appears on the streets of Strelsau to seek the help of the ragged children of the Conduit.

I thought to myself, this sounds like a great historical novel, until you mentioned the elf at the end and it turned into a fantasy story. I'm sure it's another great story to read, it's only that you can never be sure what type of story is being posted. I wondered if you had ever thought of categorising new stories? Obviously not going through the whole library on here (unless you got the time) but for new stories. Because like in any library, the books ought to get filed by sections, and that helps you find the stories you're looking for, the type of stories that grab you! You have got a large collection and I don't think the story lists do this justice. Besides, apart from Dude's Choice from the Past, there is no way to browse the whole library except clicking authors names.

If you were to categorise every book you need only to make section lists under genre headings on a new page and copy the story links there. You make the genre list, with a section Uncategorised, and ask readers to suggest appropriate categories for those stories they read which have no label. So you get help in setting it up, slowly over time. Presuming you get new authors coming and new books all the time, this library can only get bigger and bigger, so if you don't organise it, books will collect dust on the shelves like relics in a museum, hidden away in corners where nobody ventures.

 

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Talo, if you haven't read any of Michael Arram's 'Peacher' series (and it sounds like you haven't), then you're seriously missing out. They're fantastic, and become fantastical, too. The characters intertwine from book to book and grow on you until you can't put them away.

The idea of a catalogue is excellent. Liase with Mike and do it!

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I'm happy to offer genres for stories I read, but there needs to be a process to suggest the genre. First though we need a list. I suggest:

Realistic Drama : fictional stories that could happen in real life.
Science Fiction : stories based in the future, including space stories and alternate worlds.
Fantasy : fiction that creates an imaginary often magical or supernatural world.
Historical : stories that are fictional but based on historical events.
Horror : vampires, ghosts, and the supernatural, designed to scare the reader.
Crime and Mystery : the story involves a secret or crime that needs to be solved, usually by the end off the story.
Mythology : fictional stories based on mythological events and or characters.
Fictionalised Biography : stories about the real life of a person based on real events but with some imagined scenes.
Short Story : stories under 6000 words ( 30 minutes to read ).
 
You will notice this list does not include Romance, which is because I view all the stories falling within the romance genre just as they fall within the LGBT genre. The idea is to keep the list simple and avoid overlapping. I would think all members are capable of helping out and categorising the stories they have read (old stories) all new stories get read before being posted (I presume) so can be categorised before posting.
 
 

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As a reader, when I find a story I like, I look for my next story in two ways. Either seek further stories by the same author or stories of a similar nature. So I think Talo’s suggestion of some sort of classification by genre is a good one. Better still is that he has backed up his initial suggestion by working up a list of possible classifications. 

However ( there is always a however), I feel some overlap between classifications is going to be inevitable. Unwittingly, Talo has even hinted at this by including ‘supernatural’ in both ‘Fantasy’ and ‘Horror’. He has also suggested ‘short stories’ as a genre, but this represents an additional level of classification based on length of story, as ‘shorts’ will also fall into a subject genre. 

Of more immediate consideration is the effect of introducing any additional level of classification on the organisation of the site. As I understand it, at the moment the hierarchy is ‘main page>author page>story page>story’, or some simple variant, and the file structure reflects this. When Mike has a new story to post he adds it to the ‘new story’ sections of the main page and to the author’s page. With the added complication of genre classification, my feeling is that Mike will have will either have to maintain additional pages for each classification, something I suspect Mike will be loth to take on,  or the stories have to be entered in some kind of database that allows interrogation by a reader. The latter would make it relatively simple to add additional levels of classification, eg length, collections (halloween, valentines, boys-on-trains) etc, but considerable effort would be required to design the database and identify and enter all the data for the stories. Most important of all it requires access to the necessary coding skills for incorporating the database into the website, which I suspect we don’t have.

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That sounds a bit over complicated, Pedro.  The classification tag could simply be added to the story notification as it's listed as a serial story or a short story.  The problem then, of course, is that the story would have to be read by whoever is doing the classifications before it goes up, and that would slow down posting.  Unless we could convince the authors to take on that responsibility.

C

 

 

 

 

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54 minutes ago, Cole Parker said:

 The classification tag could simply be added to the story notification as it's listed as a serial story or a short story.  The problem then, of course, is that the story would have to be read by whoever is doing the classifications before it goes up, and that would slow down posting.  Unless we could convince the authors to take on that responsibility.

C

 

 

 

 

Except I understood the problem to be how to find stories by genre after they have fallen off the new story lists. 

I would have thought authors could be responsible for classifying their own stories at least until they are proved wrong by reader feedback! 

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Cole and Pedro, you both make good points.  My thoughts tend to just adding a simple label which Cole picked up on, so that when you see a new story, and later on, if possible, with the help of authors and readers classifying old stories, each has a genre label. Being able to search by genre would be fantastic, but as pointed out, a lot of work to set up. What could also be easily accomplished would be a story summary on the story page. 

To keep the work minimal, a genre label for new stories, maybe a summary on the story page. To take it further, a way to suggest/add the genre to old stories, and a summary for old stories.

This doesn't help in the searching by genre that Pedro would like, but would at least let you know what you are reading before you pick up the book. 

As concerns liaising with Mike - the awesome dude himself - this is the forum thread for that and seems to me it's only active and interested (I nearly left a typo in there saying: only active and interesting... lol) members taking part.

 

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Talo, I love the fact you're suggesting this in the forum, that you're attempting to get more readers involved in participating here.  Years ago there was much more participation here by many more ne'er-do-wells than we have now, and that always makes me sad.  This used to be a much more rollicking place.

I only suggested you communicate with Mike as he's the final arbiter in all things Awesome, and while a number of us here might agree this is a great idea and come up with all sorts of combinations of changes, he'd be the one having to actually administer and, probably do the work of making it work.  So, before we get too far into this, it simply makes sense and is a respectful thing to do to go to the top and see if there's any interest there in following through with this.

C

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For what it's worth, I started reading each story by every author here, from the back end of the alphabet. It's an amazing journey, and you really have no idea what you are getting until you are into it.

 I would love to see genres posted, and I'm wondering if it couldn't be as simple as an alphabetical letter immediately before each title. "A-Street Urchins of Chicago" might be horror, "B-Street Urchins of Milwaukee" a fantasy, etc. Any overlapping genres might incorporate two or three letters. 

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As you suggested Cole, I emailed the Dude, aka Mike, and introduced myself, asked him what he thought about the idea. As Trab suggests it can be, should try to be, a very simple label, and next to the title seems like it might be appropriate. My own preference is to use the genre name, because then a reader doesn't read to decode a list.

It could look like: Baxter by Colin Kelly (Genre) Chapter One 

The list of genres I put up was only a starting point and is up for discussion if this were to go ahead. Trab's idea of two or more genres seems like it would introduce a second, even third tier of labelling. I would as a preference prefer to keep it simple. It's intended just to let the reader know the type of story they will be reading. 

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I thought about a label for many of my stories, and I think they'd fall into several genres.  But I don't see where that would be a problem.  Just a decision-making conundrum.

C

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On November 4, 2019 at 11:03 PM, Talo Segura said:

As you suggested Cole, I emailed the Dude, aka Mike, and introduced myself, asked him what he thought about the idea.

You didn't mention any response from Mike. 

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OK, here is your response, Talo.

What you suggest makes sense.  Nifty Archives has such a system, but the author needs to submit it into a category in advance.  Then their huge site is divided into sub parts which is fine for those who have limited interests...

AwesomeDude, however, has always been - if you like - a boutique site where the quality of a story is the important thing.  It is not organized as a department store where various and sundry items are sold according to a wide range of categories.  We are primarily a gay fiction site but many of our authors also post stories on non-gay related subjects.

I've received a lot of correspondence from readers who come to AD because they are likely to find well-written stories by their favorite authors about almost anything.  That's what they expect. 

I've recently added the Coming Attractions Forum so that authors - should they wish - may give an idea of what to expect in a new story.  It is not compulsory, nor should it be.

And some authors think that putting their stories into boxes limits them.  And if one thinks that Michael Arram - a published professor of Medieval History at a renowned British university writes 'fantasy' because an 'elf' appears in his current story introduction, then one probably lacks the  imagination to really appreciate good fiction in the first place.

We are a free site - maintained by donations.  We don't have the resources to develop and maintain a data base system to categorize stories or implement such across the thousands of stories already on our site.  We are basically a minimally managed site with volunteer labor.  Our authors arrange for the editing of their stories.  We pay attention to the quality of the stories we post and their visual presentation, something most other sites ignore. 

Our best resource is the corps of authors who meet here and discuss what's good for the site and what's "doable."   I am  always willing to discuss ideas here to improve our service to both authors and readers.

Mike

 

 

 

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Mike, thanks for your response. It's great that you are happy to discuss ideas. I, in turn, am replying to each point you make, simply to clarify the original suggestion. 

The author needs to submit a category/genre - I was thinking that when you receive a new story and read it, you label it. The author can suggest if they wish to, and readers could suggest genres for existing stories, if that is possible.

Not organised as a department store - I would substitute library for department store, seems a better analogy for a story site?

Primarily gay, but with non-gay stories - that doesn't really have a bearing on adding a story genre, unless you want to identify the two categories.

The Coming Attractions Forum - excellent addition.

Putting stories into boxes limits authors - no it doesn't, it helps readers know if they are reading modern drama, historical drama, or Sci-fi, etc.

If one thinks that Michael Arram - a published professor of Medieval History at a renowned British university writes 'fantasy' because an 'elf' appears in his current story introduction, then one probably lacks the imagination to really appreciate good fiction in the first place. - Well okay, there you are having a little dig at me. But wasn't JR Tolkein a professor of English at a renowned British university? And  he wrote about hobbits and elves and that was fantasy.

Develop and maintain a database to categorise stories - that was mentioned in the thread, but not by me. My suggestion was to add the genre to the story title (Another Quality Story by Another Author [Sci-fi]. So no data base, no spend.

We pay attention to quality and visual presentation - that's great and very much appreciated.

In summary, it is very simple to add the genre to all new stories, once you have a list to choose from. If detracts nothing, costs nothing, and only adds a reader guidance. For you to decide, as is plain to see, I believe a large collection of (thousands of) stories should be categorised, like books on library shelves. One heads for the history section or modern literature or whatever is of interest, few people wander aimlessly through the library picking up and putting books down at random. Still, as I said, for you to decide. 

Thank you for a great site ☺

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I do have another take of this.  I like writing stories of all sorts that encompass many different things.  I think it generally would be difficult for me to assign a label to them; most would require several labels.

I have a constant problem with Colin.  He insists—insists, I tell you—that I include a blurb with every story of mine he posts.  These are always difficult for me to write because I hate giving away anything that's in my stories too early.  I want the readers to come to whatever is in them in the order in which the story is constructed, and I don't want them to know anything until it's revealed in that order.   But I do it.  I do write the blurbs.  You have no idea what a nag Colin can be.

Labeling my stories would sort of fall into that category.  I know, I know, I can hear the objections now.  How would labeling a story Sci-Fi or mid-20th C Romance give too much away?  

Well, let's look at one of my stories and see what it would take.  Let's choose a short one: Courage.  And this is just off the top of my head; I haven't even thought about labeling it.  Trust me on that.

Courage is about a boy in a wheelchair.  The reader does find out about that fairly soon after beginning the story, but I'd rather the reader not know that till he's read about it int he way I choose to present it.  So labeling the story in advance Character is Physically Challenged is not something I'd want to do.  I know some people would not start reading a story about such a character for any number of reasons.  But I think once they started this story, unaware of who the protagonist is, they'll keep reading.

Another feature of the story is that the protagonist is gay.  Labeling the story as such would seem redundant to me as all my stories feature gay characters.

The protagonist gets a crush on a boy he witnesses jogging past his window every day.  Then it's arranged that the two boys meet.  So now we can label the story A Gay Romance.  Or Boy Meets Boy.  Or, as the second boy has his own physical challenges, A Story of Two Physically Challenged Finding Love.  But none of those labels really says much at all.  The first one is, as I say, almost redundant.  The rest also have their own problems.

As I already spoke of not wanting to give things away early, you can see how much I'd hate using any of these labels.

So what label should I use for this story?  Romance?  I think probably 95% of my stories have a romantic element to them.  So saying that really isn't saying much at all.  Read Cole Parker, you're reading a romance where the characters have problems, there are conflicts to resolve, and there's a happy ending.  It's the conflicts that make my stories different.  And I don't want to spell out what the conflicts are before I'm ready for the readers to know about them.

You can see that I'd have a problem with a labeling system.  I do like the idea, but don't really think it's for me.  It would be almost as bad as the confounded blurbs I have to write.

 

C

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On 11/3/2019 at 9:03 AM, Talo Segura said:

Realistic Drama : fictional stories that could happen in real life.

I think your story falls into Realistic Drama. At the start of the thread I gave a list of story genres. It could be examined and is not definitive, but I did say: 

On 11/3/2019 at 9:03 AM, Talo Segura said:

You will notice this list does not include Romance, which is because I view all the stories falling within the romance genre

I listed only nine genres, because I thought the classification should be simple. There is absolutely no need to make things complicated, it is a general story genre, not a one word description.

Writing a story synopsis is a different question. Mike has started the Coming Attractions Forum and is summarising new stories. It's not easy, almost an art in itself, but he's doing it really well. His synopsis of Michael Arram's latest story is perfectly done. So I think you can leave that job up to Mike?

If you wanted to write a synopsis of Courage it doesn't need to give away the crucial surprises you want your readers to discover. For example: The story is about a special boy - no need to say in a wheelchair, handicapped, or gay. His surprise encounter with a new friend is destined to change his life - no need to say boy meets boy, falls in love despite being wheelchair bound. 

Keep it simple, not requiring too much work, free to implement, and for synopsis, think outside the box and use your imagination. ☺

 

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I tend to follow authors, not genre.  Most writers I like work from a pretty broad palette.
 

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8 hours ago, Merkin said:

I tend to follow authors, not genre.  Most writers I like work from a pretty broad palette.
 

Ditto.

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15 hours ago, Merkin said:

I tend to follow authors, not genre

That means you read your favourite authors, but will look for something new when you run out of stories to read. Adding a story genre helps readers choose a story they might like to read. I'm not at all sure what you're comments are saying? You don't like the idea of a genre label, or you personally would pay it no attention so don't see the point?

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Sorry for the confusion, Talo.  I simply meant that I will read any new story written by writers I have developed confidence in, based on past reading experience.  That usually keeps me busy, but if I'm at loose ends and looking for a new author, I tend to go by context; i.e., I browse the sites I trust.  I'm not shy about starting a story and quitting it if I find it isn't to my taste.  But I don't read for genre.  Instead I read for  a writer's style, insight, respect for his characters.

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46 minutes ago, Merkin said:

I don't read for genre.  Instead I read for  a writer's style, insight, respect for his characters.

That's very interesting. We're getting a bit off topic, but have probably flogged genre labels to death, unless it's going to be implemented, then it can be revisited to define a list.

I'm like you, in part at least, I pick up new stories and read if I like what I'm reading. If the writer's style is good I will definitely keep reading and the type or genre of story is less important than how it's written. Often though, stories are not terribly well written, but I still read them if the subject is interesting, the plot, or characters. I pay particular attention to reading new authors.

Otherwise, I read by recommendation. I'm reading The Heart of Oskar Prinz because I was told I should by you guys, well by Camy. I like recommendations just as I like Mike's summary in the coming attractions for new stories. I love reading book reviews, but they are much less common. And, of course, I like discussing books.

There are a lot of different dynamics going on right now in the online world of gay fiction. The movement of authors to publish and sell their books (good luck with that) is one trend. There is, not exactly a division, but break with older authors and younger ones, a move towards writing using the present tense. Something boosted perhaps by modern living, online gaming and fantasy worlds, best selling series like The Hunger Games. For many readers in their twenties, present tense is the norm.

There is a whole fascinating history to online stories and online gay fiction. I guess it all started with porn when loading images took ages, but words were much quicker to display. Even in the nineties the internet was accessed using dial up, reminiscent of watching paint dry. I digress, but it's your comments that keep things moving on.

 

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6 hours ago, Talo Segura said:

...I read by recommendation. I'm reading The Heart of Oskar Prinz because I was told I should by you guys, well by Camy.

Umm, no. I didn't suggest that. What I said was:

Quote

Hiya, Talo.

I'm in the middle of NaNoWriMo at the moment, but here's the reading order for the first few books

Henry in the Outfield
Henry in High Politics
Henry in Finkle Road

Henry is the main protagonist around which a lot of the other novels are spun. The characters in The Heart of Oscar Prince are important, and the series becomes very supernatural.

Also - if you like historical fiction, the three Crown of Tassilo novels are good. They are set in the 19th century.

Outside of AD I primarily read fantasy. Authors such as Joe Abercrombie, Robin Hobb, Stephen King, Michael J Sullivan, etc. With fantasy, books covers are generally a good guide: if it has a burly bloke with a sword (and mist) you're probably on the right track. 😉

 

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