Three Tales for Christmas, by Steph Bennion (40:00)

IOD-ThreeTalesChristmasToday we see that if all the characters so far have obscure names from a particular ethnic group, readers will assume the characters are members of that group.

What I gleaned about the stories: Robot wolves and holographic angels are both similar and different to their mythic counterparts, and can produce the same defining moments.

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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 onto the next one. As usual, I stop reading after the third WTF.

WTF #1: Accidental misdirection

Analysis: The first story opens with a character named Thelxiepeia entering the room. Half a beat later – without breaking my immersion – my unconscious offered up it was the name of a siren. A few paragraphs later, her sister, named Peisinoe, speaks. Again the name of a siren.

Partway down the second page I discovered they were Indian. As they are both named after obscure characters from Greek mythology, my initial image had been that they were ethnically Greek, so this bumped me out.

The conflict was made worse by Thelxiepeia being described as like a pregnant airship in the first paragraph, so I’d made the additional assumption that I already had the critical physical traits I needed to form a mental image.

After a few moments of considering how the first paragraphs might be reworked to avoid the confusion without introducing an info-dump on why they both had classical Greek names, I realised I was out of the story and moved on.

Kudo #1: Good imagery

Analysis: While Thelxiepeia’s ethnicity wasn’t flagged early enough, the comparison with a pregnant airship immediately gave me a compact yet powerful image of the character’s personality and actions. This later trend continued through the other stories, suggesting the WTF could be an isolated incident.

Kudo #2: Good use of simulated stream of consciousness

Analysis: The third story contains playbacks of a character’s past projected at him without his cooperation. As well as being marked in italics, they are written in a style that uses longer sentences with little punctuation. This gave a definite sense of a barrage of images while avoiding the mental effort of reading true stream of consciousness.

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.

Ignifer Tales, by Michael John Grist (2:16)
The Crown and the Mage, by Corinne Morier (3:34)

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.