The 4 Ps

The 4 Ps is a rating system (using four words, each beginning with ‘p’ ) I’ve devised for giving novels a score out of 20. The 4 Ps are:


Although I write occasional book reviews on this blog, I don’t review everything I read. As a little challenge to myself for 2017 I plan to rate each novel I read, even if I don’t write a review of it, with a score based on the 4 Ps. I’m only doing this for novels, because non-fiction would need to be scored in a slightly different way (that might be a project for another time). Each of the Ps mentioned above gets a score out of 5 and all the scores are added up to give a total out of 20.

Plot: This is an assessment of how interesting I find the storyline and how well I manage to follow it. Basic story ideas are often quite simple, but added complexities can transform them into intricate and intriguing novels. Getting a good score for plot requires the story to have purpose from start to finish. The ending also needs to satisfy in some way.

Pace: I think of this as a measure of how engaging a novel is. Some books are real page-turners where pace is very obvious. More slowly paced novels can, however, score just as highly if the pace suits the mood of the story. Pace is about keeping the reader’s attention. It’s wonderful to find a tale so gripping you can’t stop yourself from racing through it, but just as enjoyable in a different way to luxuriate in one that encourages slow and delicious savouring.

Poetry: This is perhaps the most subjective and complex of the 4 Ps. It concerns things that are often analysed subconsciously, such as sentence structure, language and writing style. It also takes into account the emotions and mental images conjured up by the author. This P could be said to be a way of measuring the artistic merit of the novel. It’s almost certainly a matter of personal taste, and a style that appeals to one reader may well repel another.

Pull: The score for this reflects the impression made by the characters and setting in a novel. I like it when I find myself thinking about a book between bouts of reading, and sometimes long after I’ve finished it. A high score reflects strong, convincing characters and/or settings that have come alive in my mind.

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For a list of novels reviewed using this system, click here.