Thursday, March 29, 2012

Should Novels be Rated like Movies?

A question popped into my mind while reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Should novels be rated like movies are? Mind you, I kept reading and didn't pursue the issue. Recently, a fellow author posed the same question on Facebook. My antennas shot up and the analytical side of my brain researched the issue while the creative side continued writing. I was surprised to find Wall Street Journal articles, author blogs, and publishers not only discussing this issue, but acting on it.

AKW Books, an eBook publisher, has adopted the industry standard for movies as their standard for the novels they release. Check out their guidelines at: PanHistoria, an outlet for role-play authors has done the same thing. Visit In both cases, they rate the type of novel or play following industry standards.

This raises the question for us as authors. Should we consider voluntarily rating our novels based on their content? I had a discussion about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo with some friends who either read the book, saw the movie, or both. The consensus was that the book was as graphic as the movie. One lady said, "I had to skip about ten pages. I couldn't bear to read the rape scenes."

I thought about Room 1515. If I applied the rating standard guidelines for movies, my novel is PG-13. I have another novel coming out later this year that I would give an R rating. I'm actually thinking about rating that novel R voluntarily. Should these types of ratings be imposed upon us? Should we rate ourselves? Is either of these choices a form of censorship? Weigh in on this subject.

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1 comment:

John Biggs said...

Other than for the erotic extremes, I don't find the movie rating system to be at all useful. I might feel differently if I were picking viewing material--or reading material--for a child. As for THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, I read the first deadly boring 20% and stopped so I can't comment on the rape scene.