Fatal Infatuation, by Melanie Nowak (9:37)

IOD-FatalInfatuationToday we ask the question: if a prologue falls in the forest but conveys no information, was it really a prologue at all?

What I gleaned about the story: There are vampires. And they sometimes mingle with people in bars.

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Note: Sometimes, a prologue can add a dimension to the story that layers the unfolding narrative with new meaning, so I don’t hate them. But this one serves no function I can discern. About all it conveys is that there may be a vampire. And the cover has already conveyed that point, so the prologue provided no useful information at all.

WTF #1: She made her way to the bar, walking with a measured stride and an air of aloofness which told those around her, that she considered them beneath her attentions.

Analysis: Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, and even fewer expect a surprise comma. That one caught me right off guard, interrupting a thought in mid-flow. So I backed up, looking to see if I had perhaps misread something. But nope. And coming in the middle of the first page, it jacked up my already heightened radar. Such are the costs of not using an experienced editor – or else using one, and then ignoring their input.

WTF #2: Tell mode

Analysis: Almost everything I saw was in tell mode. Worse, the little bits of show that we did get were directly at odds with the tell we’d been given. The she-vamp is described as having a commanding, queenly presence, but she opens her dialog with “Hi there,” and then fails to get any more charming, alluring, or riveting with the dialogue that follows. For the most part, the speech is banal and clichéd – neither of which support the claim of queenly bearing. The disconnect caused me to roll my eyes several times, with immersion breaking on each orbit, but I only counted it as one.

WTF #3: Unwelcome images of the blood soaked ‘fun’ she might enjoy invaded his mind as he sought to give her an unconcerned smile.

Analysis: I don’t know what it is about thoughts being “invaded,” but a lot of indie writers seem to use it when describing unpleasant or troubling thoughts. With a vamp, it might work – if she was actually pushing those thoughts into his head, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here, because the context seems to suggest that they were thoughts of what he imagined she would like – not her actual likes being pushed onto him. And if she was supposed to be pushing the images, that wasn’t made clear enough in the text. But either way, my immersion broke as I tried to reconcile the evidence.

Note: There were also a number of mechanical issues. A rather brutal comma splice, incorrect punctuation, flopping verb tenses, etc. No one of them repeated frequently enough to be flagged on their own, but there were enough of them, taken together, that I thought it worth pointing them out anyway. Once again, a copy editor might have made a big difference.

The Tales of Abu Nuwas, by Marva Dasef (19:19)
The Tainted Awaken, by Jodi Herlick (8:34)

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 underqualified in just about everything. That’s why he writes.