Days Gone Bad, by Eric R. Asher (3:21)

IOD-DaysGoneBadToday we see that galloping I disease isn’t just about the narrator—other characters can trigger it too.

What I gleaned about the story: Damian sees dead people. Like his sister, Beth, who might be a vampire. And together they fight crime. I think.

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WTF #1: Echoing headwords

Analysis: A pair of “I”-sentences to start the second paragraph. Echoes that early in a book are quite loud, because we’ve had so little story by that point that every word is of greater significance. And in my case, when three of the first five sentences start with the same word, i take it as a loud warning. Hopefully now that I’ve flagged it, my echo-demons can rest a while.

WTF #2: Conspicuous exposition

Analysis: In paragraph three, the narrator answers the telephone. As he reaches for it, we get: My eyes passed over the outdated wood paneling on my ceiling and walls, taking in the meager light from two small lamps while I swallowed my dinner. To me, this feels forced and unnatural. When you reach for the phone, you look at the phone. Your eyes might pass over the paneling, but it’s your house. You stopped seeing the paneling consciously about two weeks after you moved in. I totally get that authors need to establish their setting, but doing so with narration that contradicts basic human psychology conflicts takes the reader into the uncanny valley. The character just feels wrong. Alien. And definitely not somebody whose world view I’d want to get cozy with.

WTF #3: Galloping “I” disease

Analysis: My radar was already pinging from the earlier sentences, and since we’re in 1st POV, there have been a ton of I-references already. But when his sister threw a long string of I-sentences into her dialogue as well, I pulled the plug. In her case it might actually be rhetorically justified, but hearing all that narrative “I”-sentences has completely drained my tolerance for it, justified or otherwise.

 

Exodus, by Andreas Christensen (3:03)
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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 uniquely unqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.