An Archdale score of 15/15 is rare, and yet, a full score does not mean a perfect story. In fact, most online stories could be revised multiple times and further polished, even if they happened to receive a 15/15 from Archdale. So, what does a ‘perfect’ 15/15 story mean then?
You can read about each our of our five scoring factors in more detail here, but to summarize, Archdale is looking for thoughtful and thorough execution of plot, character, world, and style. It does not have to be wholly original with new ideas and unique structures. In reality, everything has already been done in one form or another, with every story a different rehashing of the same old.
Rather, Archdale looks for original interpretation and employment of common themes, tropes, and structures. ‘Cliches’ are okay as long as they are presented in an apt and engaging manner. Additionally, we do not judge on how interesting or captivating the story was according to preferences but objectively on whether the story’s execution was successful.
If a story relayed its main and side points in a clear manner and pacing with all loose ends tied up by the end of the story or in a timely manner, depending on if it is a standalone book or series, and portrayed its characters in a distinctive, compelling, and believable manner inside an easily visualized and understood world with appropriate tone and mood, then that story is a 15/15.
Where stories can stumble is by taking on too much, or being too stylistic in their rendition. Story points, plot events, and character development can drag out, become stagnant, or be dropped entirely. A simpler story, like a classic modern romance, while maybe not perceived as very “original” or “fresh,” may have an easier time in execution. More complex stories, like a fantasy or crime/mystery, may deal with many revolving parts and diverse details that ultimately make them harder to manage and execute. These stories and their writers may struggle, knowingly or unknowingly, to portray their imagination and visualized developments to the readers in a clear and compelling manner.
Writing is merely a medium to one’s ideas and inner world of storytelling. What may be obvious to the writer is not always obvious or conveyed to the reader. It can also be easy to insert details that are not necessary to the story nor the reader, but it is necessary for the writer in order to deliver all that they desire and envision in their creative outlets. These details can be hard to distinguish without outside perspective and insight on reader experiences.
That is not to say that if multiple people say something is wrong with a particular character or plot event, then something is most certainly wrong. But it might be pointing to a difference in how the writer is imagining it versus how the reader is interpreting or understanding it. That is where the revision process comes in, to better clarify and tighten up the story to be focused on what is most important and necessary and to strike a balance between reader experience and writer satisfaction.
Lastly, web serials are popular and common in online writing and digital publishing. These web serial formats make receiving a 15/15 harder due to the length and thus, mass of information and details covered in the drawn-out or ongoing story. Smaller machinations may be covered for the enjoyment of the readers rather than for any additional, meaningful developments or revelations about the characters or plot. This can happen even with standalone stories that are not web serials. They may not exactly be ‘filler,’ but if taken out, they would still not affect the direction or understanding of the plot and what is already known about the characters.
In this situation, what is occurring is repetition of known information about the world and characters. This is different from consistency, such as of a character’s personality or behavior, which reinforces established information to keep the reader grounded and convinced, a proper “suspense of disbelief” to keep the reader immersed.
To recapitulate, every detail included in a story should add to what is known or not known, either by expanding or bringing something new to the table. That is successful execution––a tight, focused plot with developed characters and settings. Writing style directly contributes to or hinders the successful conveyance of ideas and overall story execution.
Writing is a craft and an art. In art, there is no true, final ceiling for ‘perfection.’ With the assessment system that Archdale has undertaken, we aim to evaluate the successful execution of the current ceiling imposed by the story’s endeavored scope.
So, not all same-scored stories are always on the same caliber. A lower-scored story may actually be more enjoyable to the masses or on a personal level than a higher-scored story depending on how much and how deep the two stories tackled their genres, themes, and tropes as well as their market popularities.
Thus, the correct way to use an Archdale Virtual Bookshelf (AVB) score is to first consider how interesting the story synopsis is to you, and then use the individual five factors (Plot, Character, World, Grammar, Style) to roughly gauge the success of the story’s execution for each area.
Happy browsing and reading!