Last Flight for Craggy, by Gary Weston (3:11)

IOD-LastFlightCraggyToday I notice that a preoccupation with describing the physics of a scene can rob a story—even a science fiction story—of its heart.

What I gleaned about the story: Fawn Dillow is making her first run to Mars as a pilot but she’s cold as ice, even as the narrator gets lost in the math of what’s going on.

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Note: The entire book is set in Courier font, which makes it feel entirely unfinished to me. More like a manuscript than a published book.

WTF #1: Echoing headword party

Analysis: The first pair of sentences begin with “The.” And then on the heels of that, the first three paragraphs echo on that word as well. Coming at the very start, these are dubious signs.

WTF #2: Repetitive exposition

Analysis: [He] deliberately angled the ship at forty degrees so that it was plunging belly first,… This is followed two sentences later with, The forty degree angle, blunt end entry produced a shock-wave…

Restating details like this (the forty-degree angle) creates an instant echo, which is distracting enough on its own. But it also makes me wonder if the author thought that maybe I hadn’t noticed it the first time. In addtion to being smooth, good writing should also be economical. Tell the reader what they need to know, but do it efficiently, and only repeat yourself when doing so is important. Otherwise, the reader might get the impression that you don’t have confidence in your craft.

WTF #3: Declarative sentence parade

Analysis: I’m only at the bottom of the first page, and the tromping boots of the declarative sentences are already ringing loudly. He did that. This went there. She was such and such. The prose exhibits a complete preoccupation with physical details, including an almost pedantic focus on the minutia of physical measurements. It actually felt a bit like a first-year exam question in orbital mechanics, rather than a story about humans experiencing something awesome.

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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.