Ever Shade, by Alexia Purdy (6:35)

IOD-EverShadeToday we learn that making readers hate your protagonist is a non-optimal way to start the story.

What I gleaned about the story: A faery girl raised in a modern human household has trouble fitting in and may even get expelled from school on account of her fiery temper.

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WTF #1: Character confusion

Analysis: One long pause and the man pondered the choice he had just made. The faery exile, Verenis, watched the woman and her new husband as they laughed and chatted away inside their house. So who is “the man?” Is it the husband? Or is it Verenis? The term “man” is usually reserved for humans, as in “not faery.” On the other hand, we’re given access to “the man’s” mental space, so maybe it is Verenis. Either way, I should not be having to decode the nouns and pronouns like this in the very first sentence.

Note: The entire prologue—half a page—is in tell mode and there is absolutely nothing in it that reader’s needed to witness for themselves. The entire thing could have been conveyed with a single sentence of exposition, but in this case, I think it was a mistake to include it at all. The beginning of the actual story would have been much more interesting if we did not yet know why the strange girl was strange.

WTF #2: First page typo

Analysis: I only stated that she was a ‘dumb as a wall… First of all, what teenage girl actually talks like that? She sounds more like a lawyer than a schoolgirl. But the WTF was earned for the typo. Since the prologue was only half a page, the first half page of Chapter 1 is also still on the first “page” of the book, and all editorial gaffes count full measure on the first page.

WTF #3: Echoing headwords

Analysis: The first scene of Chapter 1 has a number of echoes. A couple of character name echoes and a whole bunch of “She” sentences. But this was made more evident by the tell mode. Obviously, some interesting conflict had gone down just before the scene opened, because it’s all the girls talk about. But listening to two teenage girls snipe about the girl who just dumped juice on them would have been much more compelling if we had actually witnessed the attack. As it happens, after having to listen to these two snipe about the mean girl in their bitchy high school tones, I now hate them. And that’s a bad thing, because I think they’re supposed to be the protagonist and her sidekick. If the author had instead opened with the actual juice attack, I would instead have sympathized with the victims and might have been more willing to let them vent about it.

Lodestone, by Wendy Scott (11:20)
Phrases of Light, by Richard J. Kendrick (10:23)

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.