Song of the Summer King, by Jess E. Owen (6:35)

IOD-SummerKingToday we see that if you’re going to write about intelligent animals, you need to gather your own intelligence first.

What I gleaned about the story: A young gryphon flies around enjoying the morning, trying to ignore the impending big hunt.

Find this book on Amazon.

Note: A beautiful cover that definitely seems to convey what’s in the tin.

WTF #1: Questionable details

Analysis: There were two passages in the first couple of pages that brought me up short. First: His wings drew in and flapped out sluggishly. I’m not an ornithologist, nor a bio-dynamicist, but I’m pretty sure flying is not a process of pulling wings in and then flapping them out. It’s a complex motion, but essentially, they go up and down, not in and out. (Here’s a better description of it.)

The second line was: Shard shrieked into the morning to warn gulls from his path. But this is a gryphon we’re talking about. Essentially a flying lion eagle. And they’re in the habit of warning prey away? Given their size and all that flapping business, I’d expect them to be constantly ravenous, diving through flocks of gulls with their beaks opened wide, grazing on whatever easy breakfast they can snatch on the way by.

So to my mind, these are examples of story building logic that doesn’t ring true. And when I get stuck thinking about world logic, I’m no longer immersed.

WTF #2: Declarative sentence parade

Analysis: There are a few variant sentence structures to break it up, but it still plods with: He went here. He went there. He did this. He did that. The effect is one of trudging across the tundra, even though the scene is about a powerful creature of myth, swooping and diving through the sky.

I think the opening scene would benefit from having a single, focused mood. As it is, Shard is simply flying for fun, but instead of reveling in that, he’s also worrying, and struggling, and then some more reveling. With the mood of the scene wandering so haphazardly, they all seem fickle and unimportant.

WTF #3: “Shard!” It was his name.

Analysis: Repetitive writing. A number of things are said over and over again. Often something is said and then said again later. I’m told the same thing in different ways multiple times. Points are belabored through reiteration and restatement.

For example, the quoted excerpt appears on page 3, after 7 previous mentions of Shard, by name. He’s the POV character. We’ve already established who he is. Saying this now implies that I haven’t figured it out for myself.

And this was not the only case. There were several other facts repeated and restated, as well. As though the author does not trust her writing, or else does not trust the reader to have picked up the details along the way.

And every time I read something stated a second time, I wonder if I missed some subtle nuance, so I jump back to see if I can figure out why it’s being said again. But nope. Just saying it again.

Flower's Fang, by Madison Keller (4:17)
Queen and Other Stories, by Lincoln Crisler

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.