By Sword Stave or Stylus – Andrew Knighton (40:00)

IOD-SwordStaveToday we see that even a single mistake can push a reader out.

What I gleaned about the stories: The struggles of life are either glorious and strangely beautiful or hollow and unpleasant, depending on whether or not you are the one being brutally overwhelmed.

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Note: This is a short story collection, so the rules are slightly different from standard Immerse or Die: instead of reading on every time I lose immersion, I stop reading that story and move on to the next one. As usual, I stop reading after the third WTF.

Kudo #1: Good mix of setting and action in the first lines

Analysis: The first story opens in the middle of a fight, but the second sentence reveals it is in an arena. So, rather than not being invested in characters I haven’t met, I am already wondering what sort of gladiatorial event it is, what society spawned it, and other questions more interesting than who will hit who and how.

Each of the stories displays the same opening of immediate action mixed with wider setting, so from the first paragraph I both had a feeling this moment was significant to a character and reasons to read on.

Kudo #2: Engaging Structure

Analysis: Each story contrasts scenes of different pace and tone, providing more depth than a chronological recording. I especially enjoyed the way Knighton did this in the Sir Richard stories, where each section of the narrative starts with an extract from a formal history and then describes the actual events that inspired it.

WTF #1: Spelling error

Analysis: Some way into the book, I encountered ‘metaphores’. The plural should be metaphors, so this stood out; however, because the book had been flowing so smoothly, I doubted my own recollection enough that I stopped dead to think about whether metaphores might be an alternate spelling.

Had I been reading for fun, I would have either gone to check a dictionary or wondered for a bit, and then re-immersed myself; but I had lost immersion, so I moved on.

Take the Pepsi Challenge: Want to know if my own writing measures up? Download one of these free short stories, in the format of your choice, and decide for yourself.

The Starfall Knight, by Ken Lim (8:10)
Cold Run, by Rachel A. Brune (3:54)

About the author

Dave Higgins has worked in law and IT for both public and private sector organisations. When not pursuing these hobbies, he writes poetry and speculative fiction.

He was born in Wiltshire, England. Raised by a librarian, he started reading shortly after birth and has not stopped since. He currently lives in Bristol with his wife, Nicola, his cats, Jasper and Una, and many shelves of books.