What are the criteria for "evaluating fiction" ?

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My favorite method is quite simple.  I like to forget about literary terms and look at a bigger picture: How does the work of fiction connect?

1a.  How does this fiction of fiction connect to its reader (in general)?  Who is its audience?  Is the audience real or imaginary, alive or dead?  Male or female?  Young or old?

1b.  How does the work of fiction connect to you (specifically)?  Emotionally, ethically, stylistically, thematically, how do you respond to this work?  Do you agree with its thesis or premise?

2.  How does the work of fiction connect to other works of fiction?  By genre, theme, tone, character, setting, organization, does it match up with other books?

3.  How does the work of fiction connect to the world?  What makes it relevant now?  What current issues, lifestyles, controversies, problems does it reflect in our culture today?

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I typically recommend evaluating fiction based on the following criteria:

1.  literary (rhetorical) techniques: How well does the author employ the use of characterization, symbolism, theme(s), point-of view, figures of speech, allusion, irony, imagery, etc.?

2.  application/relevance to real life: How realistically does the story portray the lives of its characters for the time and place in which it is set?  And, what point is the author trying to make in the book that can be applicable to today?

3.  enjoyment: Did you like the story?  Why or why not?

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