Cold Pulp Trio, by E.R. White, Jr. (1:02)

IOD-ColdPulpToday we see that authors lose credit faster for shaky description than they gain it for layers and nuance.

What I gleaned about the stories: Even if you wake up alone in your own bed, things are generally bad if you’re living in pulp noir.

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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: Echoing headwords

Analysis: The first four sentences of the first story begin with ‘I’, so my mind started playing “How many sentences in a row start with “I” rather than paying attention to the rest of the sentences.

With no mental image at the end of the first paragraph, I moved on.

Kudo #1: Interesting word-pictures

Analysis: The second story opens with a character being described as worsted-wool perfection. These three words immediately gave me an image of how the character was dressed, how much care he took over his appearance, and an idea of his likely approach to other matters.

WTF #2: Bathetic description

Analysis: After a few more sentences painting details, the second story continues: His eyes were his only flaw. They were not quite right. The preceding detail made me expect description that was more than reporting of facts, so the lack of any explanation for why his eyes weren’t right left me feeling cheated.

The trust in description I’d developed now deflated, I moved on.

WTF #3: Odd word choice

Analysis: The third story begins with the narrator leaping out of bed, feeling as if he is on fire. The next sentence is: The alarm had already switched back to a simple audio beep instead of telling my in-link to spam my skin nerves. While the explanation that the burning is neuro-stimulation makes sense, spam refers to unsolicited advertising messages (usually without useful content) so didn’t feel like the right word for something that – while not wanted in the moment – was both expected and useful.

Had it been a description of something commonplace to me, I might have forgiven it. However, I rely on the author to describe the parts of the world that are fantastical or future-tech clearly; so, with a niggle in the science-fiction on the first page, I pulled the plug.

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.

Awakened, by C. Steven Manley (5:45)
Groom of the Tyrannosaur Queen, by Daniel M. Bensen (16:50)

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.