How to Avoid a Poor Score

(Forget English Class! Live group author chat on December 8th, 2011! On the panel will be Lauren McLaughlin herself, Scott Westerfeld, Robin Wasserman, and David Levithan.)

Recently, I had the opportunity to see the ever-clever Lauren McLaughlin speak at Books of Wonder‘s Fantastic Fiction for Teens event. Lauren was joined on stage with the legendary Tamora Pierce (Mastiff), newcomer Rae Carson (The Girl of Fire and Thorns), and four other authors, but Lauren definitely stood out from the panel when it was her turn to speak. Lauren didn’t read an excerpt of her novel theatrically like Darker Still author Leanna Renee Hiber—who was awesome, by the way—or recount funny stories of fan emails the way John Connolly (The Infernals) did. But Lauren did speak passionately about the terrifying society she has envisioned in Scored and about how uncomfortable she is with the idea of the dystopian world she’s built: one where cameras watch your every move, where you’re scored on everything you do (from the television shows you watch to the crowd you sit with at lunch), and where your score determines your entire future.

But don’t worry, Figs, we’ve got you covered. We’ve got the Scored scoring rubric DOWN. You’re graded on five traits: Congruity, Impulse Control, Rapport, Peer Group, and Diligence. If you decide to launch a rebellion because you don’t like the way things are being run, you’ll demolish your Congruity grade—so let’s leave the world-saving thing to someone whose grade isn’t remarkable and who can risk ruining his life! Hanging out with someone who has a lower score than you do means that you could hurt your own score in both Rapport and Peer Group, so be extra wary of score-damaging losers. And we know the hottie down the hall has caught your eye, but jumping into romance with someone unsuitable won’t be too good for your Impulse Control score, so be strong and steer clear. And finally, keep your head and grades up high to prove you deserve a stellar Diligence score.

To help you avoid a bad score that will sentence you to a life in a dead-end job, as your friends go off cruising on their yachts, we’ve put together some DON’TS for you.

Who NOT to socialize with at lunch: Okay, so you see an unfairly gorgeous crowd of five teens (three dudes, two chicks) waltz into the cafeteria and sit at the cool table by the window. It’s quite obvious that one guy is single while the others are paired up (you can tell from the way they’re swooning all over one another with their golden eyes), but this isn’t an invitation to bat your eyes at the bachelor—even if he does have really great hair and a respectable wardrobe. Don’t give in to peer pressure! Hanging with this antisocial peer group is a score destroyer—and it’s also how THIS happens.

Who NOT to build rapport with: Oh boy. Where do I start? By launching into the infinite problems I have with these no-talent yahoos, I’m afraid I’ll find myself unable to stop, and then I’ll spend my week depressed by how much time I devoted to writing about Jersey Shore. Instead of tanning yourself two shades brighter than orange soda, how about you chat it up with the scholarly-looking reader at a local bookstore signing? That’s the kind of rapport that will up your score. You’re going for red wine, relaxed company, and good discussion—step away from the hard liquor, blinding club lights, and Hulk-smash attitudes.

What NOT to watch: The Real Housewives of ANYWHERE. It doesn’t matter if it’s Jersey, New York, Atlanta, or Middle Earth. Watching these shows is the equivalent of swimming in an ocean of alcohol and eating a steady diet of Twinkies and Cheetos—it’s bad for your brain and really unbecoming. Learn some impulse control when it comes to your remote control!

What NOT to read: US Weekly. Why read tabloids when you could spend that time bettering yourself with A Brave New World1984, or even just your town’s daily newspaper? At the end of the day, you know it’s far more important to know what your president is up to than who Brangelina adopted this week. We all need to take a break every now and again, but don’t make a habit out of it. Be diligent. Study now and rock out later.

Thankfully, you Figs are bright and know the basics: look both ways before crossing the street, don’t take candy from strangers, don’t dine with vampires, and turn off the TV if the only thing on is a Jersey Shore marathon. Your life kinda depends on it. No big deal. (For more on Lauren McLaughlin and Scored, check out her Q&A here on Figment.)

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