Siege of Praetar, by David Kristoph (21:02)

IOD-SiegePraetarToday we see that some stories may be stronger than their editorial execution.

What I gleaned about the story: As the Empire proceeds with their plans to abandon a dying star system, two blockade-ship crewmen sit their lonely vigil, shooting down the refugees who are trying to tag along with them. But I have the feeling one of these guys is not what he appears to be.

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Note: I’ve seen a steady trickle of minor editing glitches. A missing comma here, an extra space there. Nothing to trip me up or create confusion. I note them just as details of the scenery passing by. But they have a similar effect to when you visit somebody’s house and the dishes are standing unwashed in the sink. It doesn’t change your enjoyment of the evening’s company and conversation, but in the back of your mind, you keep thinking: Ick. He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t do the dishes.

Note: Buttons, buttons, button. A button clicked. He clicked a button. He swiped at the panel and poked a few buttons. This may all be true, but the description carries no truth. The last time I turned on my phone, I did not “click a button.” I “turned on my phone.” The POV is fairly intimate, since we’re privy to his thoughts, but too many of the physical details are being presented in dry, mechanical terms, shorn of any meaning or symbolic meaning to the POV character. Again, I haven’t tripped over it, but I’ve been noticing a slight staleness to the experience so far, and I think this is a big part of it.

WTF #1: Echoing headwords

Analysis: I got through most of Chapter 1 without any consistent reverberations, but now in Chapter 2 I’ve run through a quick flurry of 3 consecutive “The”-headed paragraphs. And then three consecutive “He-“headed sentences. And then quite a mess of “He-“headed paragraphs. It is quite common for the first chapter of an indie novel to have received far more editorial scrutiny than the later chapters. I don’t know if that’s the case here, but for whatever reason, the echoes are comparatively thick in Chapter 2.

Note: A bit later on, I found a pair of “It-“headed sentences. It’s the last sentence in one paragraph echoing with the first sentence of the next, which is a bit trickier for an author to spot, but to a reader, they come one after the other, just like sequential sentences in the middle of a single paragraph, and so when they echo, they do so just as stridently. Especially if the reader has recently survived a storm of echoes.

WTF #2: The minor grammar issues mount up

Analysis: A who instead of a whom. A steady trickle of not-quite consistent past perfects. Misplaced commas and spaces. Etc. I’ve been letting them slide to this point, but there are enough of them that the memory of the last one is still fresh when I reach the next. As a result, the irritation factor continues to rise, incrementally, until now I’ve become so sensitized to them, it’s time to throw a flag.

WTF #3: Echoes again.

Analysis: Another page with three consecutive “He-“sentences and a pair of paragraphs that echo at the head as well. Once again we see that when a reader rubs against the same kind of issue over and over, the similarity calls attention to them and lowers his tolerance until, Bam! You pick up your 3rd WTF.

Kudos #1: Fairly strong story-telling

Details: Despite my grumbles about the editing, the story being told seems strong. There’s lots of apparent back-story, but it’s being introduced at a leisurely pace, and there are some good character dynamics playing out between the two crewmen of the blockade ship. The scene is being allowed to develop at its own pace, without trying to rush to the action. So this seems like one to consider, if you have a longer fuse than I do for the echoing.

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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.