Below are a few of the rating scales I will be using for some of my reviews. I will be using the queer stories rating scale for the majority of queer literature I read because there are so many similar themes between these stories. I will also use the gender and race rating scales for most of the reviews as well. I tend to analyze every book I read through these lenses and I will especially be doing these types of rating scales if I think a book did a really bad or good job at dealing with race or gender.
Queer Stories Rating Scale:
Angst: I will be using this to rate how much angst about characters’ queer identities there is in the book/story. I personally can only read so many super angsty coming out stories before it becomes bad for my mental health. I’m not saying all of my queer stories have to take place in some utopia where no one has any problem with their identity and the character is never bothered with feelings of guilt or shame, I just think it’s good to have a balance in our queer stories. And I know that sometimes I like to have a warning if a particular story is filled with angst so I can plan on reading it in sections or between other silly books. I will be using a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being not very much angst relating to their queer identity and 5 being the character is dealing with a lot of negative feelings and reactions and you may want to be careful when reading it (if that is something that bothers you).
Coming Out: I will be using this category to rate how believable and positive/negative the characters’ coming out experiences are. Obviously, this may not apply in some instances since not all queer books are about coming out (Thank God!) but for most of these stories, there will be some facet of coming out. This can be related to the character’s experience in coming out, how other friends/family members/co-workers react to the coming out and how their queer identity/coming out is treated by society. Again, this is rated on a 5 point scale, with 1 being a fairly chill and conflict-free coming out experience and 5 being a coming out experience that is a big, negative ordeal and negatively impacts the character in many different ways.
Believability: This category is for the times when you read a story/book with a queer character and you’re just kinda like . Sometimes this is because it is written by someone who isn’t queer or sometimes it is because the author relies solely on crazy stereotypes about queer folks without actually knowing any queer folks. So this is loosely based on how the queer character(s) is/are written, how their attractions to others and relationships are portrayed and how their queer identity is treated by others. Again, one a 5 point scale with 5 representing the most believable and 1 representing the stories.
Gender Rating Scales:
Characterization: This category is where I rate how well the female characters are written and how believable they are – are they complex? Do they have real flaws? Do they have agency? Are they portrayed only in relation to men? Is their characterization realistic? How do they interact with other women? With men? Does this female character feel like someone I could know in real life? I remember I was once reading a book written by a man that had a female character talking about how quickly and easily she forgave her brother, as all women so easily forgive men. I remember laughing out loud at the absurdity of this statement. I enjoyed that book but I could definitely tell that it was written by a man. This is a scale from 1 to 5 with 1 being a manic pixie dream girl (i.e. some contrived male fantasy) and 5 representing real, complex women who aren’t there solely for men.
Gender Analysis: How well does the author and/or characters analyze gender differences? This does not have to be super academic or analytical, but does look at the way women in the stories deal with sexism that is present in everyday life. This one will vary significantly, but as a feminist I cannot help but look at the way characters in books deal with gender (yes even fiction books!). This is on a scale from 1 to 5 – one represents a story in which gender or sexism isn’t addressed at all even when it should have been and five represents a story where the female characters are allowed to notice sexism or gender differences and think about it/discuss it in some way OR the author skillfully addresses misogyny in their writing or the overall story.
Race Rating Scales:
Characterization: This category is where I look at how well the characters of color are written and how believable they are – are they complex? Do they have real flaws? Do they have agency? Are they simply offensive stereotypes? Or are they minor characters who only exist to serve white characters or some storyline? Does this character feel like someone I could know in real life? This scale will be similar to those above – 1 for the really offensive portrayal of characters of color and 5 for real and complex characters of color.
Race Analysis: How well does the author and/or characters analyze racial differences? This does not have to be super academic or analytical, but does look at the way characters in the stories deal with racism that is present in everyday life. This one will vary significantly, but as a Native feminist I cannot help but look at the way characters in books deal with race (yes even fiction books!). This is on a scale from 1 to 5 – one represents a story in which race or racism isn’t addressed at all even when it should have been and five represents a story where the characters are allowed to notice racism and acknowledge differences and think about it/discuss it in some way OR the author skillfully addresses racism in their writing or the overall story.