Tresspassers, by Todd and Tim Wynn (10:00)

IOD-TrespassersIf none of your characters feel anything about the events unfolding around them, neither will your readers.

What I gleaned about the story: A routine alien abduction goes dreadfully awry for the aliens when the humans catch wise and plant an agent as bait.

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WTF #1: Echoing headwords in the first paragraph

Analysis: Two sentences in a row echo on “He” in the very first paragraph. And even though it sounds like a trivial thing to flag, I remain convinced that the opening paragraph should be flawless. At that point in the journey, the author is very much on trial and any mistakes that might catch a reader’s eye at the beginning are scored fifty times more grievously than if they occur in Chapter 7.

WTF #2: POV violation

Analysis: As the ship moved closer to Stewart and Mindy, the land on the other side of the ridge came into view. It was a park, crowded with people. Up until that passage, we had been firmly in the POV of the guy piloting the alien ship that is about to abduct Stewart and Mindy. This is in fact the first mention of the two humans as anything other than “two humans.” So now I’m wondering how the alien pilot POV knows their names. Have I suddenly jumped into the victim’s POV? But there was no scene break, so I can only conclude that the narrator has changed from the intimate mode to the omniscient mode without signalling it. And the confusion over who was now telling the story threw me out.

Note: Half a page later the POV seemed to waffle back to the alien and then back again to victims. Authors take note: there are no firm rules about fiction writing, but one of the pretty widely accepted standards is that if you want to change POVs, you need to introduce a scene break.

WTF #3: 10 minute buzzer

Analysis: I’m not sure which issue held me at a greater distance. Stewart is abducted right before Mindy’s eyes, but she gives no emotional reaction and Stewart shows no signs of emotional response either. It’s becoming clear that he was placed there as bait for the abductors, but even so, aliens have just snatched him. Either he should be pleased that the plan is proceeding on pace, or he should be nervous about what comes next. But by giving me absolutely no emotional reactions of any kind, there’s nothing to pique my interest. I had one or two nice flashes of interest in the alien pilot, and a glimpse of what might be a good story shaping up, but without those human responses for me to empathize with, I’m just not feeling it. And if I haven’t been sucked in by the 10-minute point, the clock stops.

The Body Electric, by Beth Revis (18:54)
Prospero's Half-Life, by Trevor James Zaple (3:48)

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.