Lady Catherine’s Diary, by Terry Greer (3:02)

IOD-JangadaToday we see that trivial proofreading problems can derail an otherwise promising story.

What I gleaned about the story: A guy named Oran woke up and looked at his lady-friend. And that’s about as far as I got.

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WTF #1: Layout glitch

Analysis: Halfway through the first paragraph, there is a carriage return that seems to signify a new paragraph, but it would be an odd place to break the action, and there is no subsequent blank line or indentation, which all the other paragraphs have. So I’m left confused about the layout and what it was intended to be, and completely torn out of the story.

WTF #2: Missing comma on page 1.

Analysis: Oran slid from the bed, and turned to face her briefly comparing his body with hers. So did he face her briefly and make a comparison, or did he face her and make a brief comparison? As it happens in this case, the difference is quite minor, but I didn’t know that until after tripping over the line and parsing it both ways. And since it’s on the first page, it carries full weight.

Note: The very next sentence began a triple echo—three sentences in a row beginning with “He.” But since immersion had not yet resumed after the comma issue, I’m just making a note and moving on, even though we are still on the first page.

Kudos #1: An old cliché neatly subverted.

Details: After the protagonist notices the extra girth around his middle, we get: Old warriors don’t die, he thought, they simply expand until no one would ever consider them a threat. I went into that line expecting an eye-roll from the cliché, but then it went a different way and I ended up smiling at the nice little turn.

WTF #3: Typo.

Analysis: Dammit. I get the sense that this was going to be a decent story, but I was still on the first page when I hit: her body was still lithe and beautiful ,denying her true age. It might be a little thing, but that transposed space and comma grabbed my attention and brought me back to the words, rather than the story. So, since it’s first page, the flag goes up, and being the third flag, this time the clock stops.

Wanderer's Escape, by Simon Goodson (14:18)
Aristeia, by Wayne Basta (21:07)

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.