Farsprocket, by Dustin McGee (10:00)

IOD-FarsprocketToday we see that small problems can become big problems when they happen in clusters.

What I gleaned about the story: A young boy with a knack for gadget-building in the age of steam, saves his world by building gadgets. With steam. (This is wild conjecture, because I really didn’t get very far into it.)

Find this book on Amazon.

Note 1: The cover is a cute idea, but it’s 100% unreadable, even at high resolution. This has nothing to do with the quality of the writing, of course, but it does tend to put me on guard before I’ve even turned to the first page.

robots-4f8e15c30e60c (1)And as a suggestion, the title graphic for Robots might be a good reference for how to integrate gear work into a title while still being legible.

WTF #1: His brown hair was scraggly and covered in a thin layer of dust. His clothing, though covered with holes of many shapes…

Analysis: “Echo words” are words that, while not at all out of the ordinary, still sound a bit odd when repeated in the space of just a few sentences. Take the example quoted here. Not only does the word “covered” appear twice, but the first occurrence uses a literal sense of the word, as in, “topped by a layer of.” So when I got to the second occurrence, in the next sentence, I tripped over it a little more than I might have, because pants cannot be “topped by a layer of holes.”

Granted, this single example is trivial, and normally, I wouldn’t have even mentioned it. But I didn’t charge the WTF when I read those lines. I grimaced a bit, and then moved on. It wasn’t until I’d encountered a number of other echoing words that I finally made a note of them. And this is perhaps an important point for authors to be aware of. Subtle quirks in the prose are like mosquitoes. On their own, they can be ignored, but if they show up too often, they call attention to themselves as a group, and trigger the observer’s “do something about it” response. With flying insects, the observer goes indoors, or hauls out a can of Raid. But with editorial bugs, the reader simply puts the book down and walks away.

WTF #2: “The Maiden’s Glory!” he thought. “I’ve heard of that airship before! It’s the one that helped end the battle at Steamfort! I knew I had heard of her before! Legend says she was the greatest Captain to ever pilot an airship!”

Analysis: That last line is conspicuous exposition. It does not feel realistic at all to me that somebody would think those words explicitly in their ongoing internal monologue. But the author wanted us to know of the great Captain’s reputation, so the line was added. And when the author’s needs are allowed to trump the realism of the situation, we can sense the author’s manipulation happening, and it breaks immersion.

WTF #3: Invoking the 10-minute rule 

Analysis: Everything I saw was in tell mode, which I find difficult to immerse into, so I had not yet slipped into this world properly when the 10-min timer sounded.

Senlin Ascends, by Josiah Bancroft (10:00)
In Siege of Daylight, by Gregory S. Close (20:33)

About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is uniquely unqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.