Facets of Fantasy, by Arthur Hall (2:52)

IOD-FacetsFantasyToday we see that robots make ghastly layout artists.

What I gleaned about the stories: Unlikely things happened to people who lacked witnesses to support their story.

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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.

WTF #1: Inaccessible formatting

Analysis: The text is set ragged right with a very wide margin on the right, and neither first-line indents nor blank lines to mark paragraphs. The margins resulted in a slight interruption at the end of most lines as I automatically tracked the width of the page, then discovered I’d overshot.

The lack of consistent line width combined with neither standard method of marking paragraphs forced me to focus on how short each line was in an attempt to determine lines which were shorter than usual by enough to be a paragraph break.

With my natural eye-tracking scrambled, I moved on.

WTF #2: Page numbers in text

Analysis: A little way into the second story, I encountered a number broken out by a clear line on each side. I immediately thought it must be a page number (a supposition that I confirmed by scrolling through later), which broke what immersion I had.

Realising the layout issues were due to an unedited print-to-ebook conversion, I moved on.

WTF #3: Declarative parade

Analysis: Having already scored two WTF’s for flaws in the conversion, I resolved to press on past them in the third story. And, to begin with, I found the story engaging.

Unfortunately, several pages in I hit a string of declarative sentences. Had I not already been frustrated by the formatting, I might have carried through. However, already crawling along rather than reading at my usual racing, I stalled out.

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 Viper and the Urchin, by Celine Jeanjean (3:35)
The Natural Order, by R.J. Vickers (13:20)

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.