This is not an exhaustive model and it will inevitably break under the weight of counter examples (which is a good thing). However, like all models it helps to conceptualize underlying ideas and so allows us to see how reality departs from the model.
The axes are:
- Reality distortion: Magic versus science. How is the fundamental reality different from the one we know about? Is it via new scientific principles (faster than light drives etc) or magic? What if it is both? (then the work is a line rather than a point!)
- Plot interaction: is this story driven by interaction with things or people? Aliens, elves all count as ‘people’! More action orientated plot events counts as ‘things’ i.e. shooting at people doesn’t count as interaction with people! What I mean by ‘people’ is interpersonal interaction, social interaction, smooching etc.
- Fictional setting: Fictional future or fictional past?
The blue rectangle projected onto axes 2 & 3 shows a space in which the story doesn’t play with magic or science. A blue dot shows a possible position for a historical romance. A book like 1984 would sit in a near future space (ignore the title date – it is set in the reader’s near future).
In the next graph I’ve shaded a rectangle projected onto the space which shows only stories set in the present. A blue blob shows a position for a paranormal romance story.