Blood Moon 2, by Cody Toye (2:01)

IOD-BloodMoon2Today we see that with adjectives, more is not merrier.

What I gleaned about the stories: Rock concerts are loud. Autumn nights are cold. And freezing near to death isn’t a joyous rest.

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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: Dissonant description

Analysis: A few paragraphs into the first story I encountered: Devon felt his lip start to bleed. Nasty grooves formed where his teeth used to be. My immediate image of where his teeth used to be was of him having missing teeth. Almost immediately, I re-parsed it as him having bitten his lip, but by then other niggles had arisen.

All the times I’ve bitten my lip, I’ve felt a tingle/stab in my lip, and then – if I’ve bitten hard – tasted blood. As mouths are wet, I’m not certain I noticed the trickle of blood at all. So Devon’s first sensation being the feeling of blood flowing threw me.

Also, grooves – even nasty ones – didn’t seem to convey the puncture of teeth having broken the skin.

Conscious that building the correct mental image had taken work, I moved on.

WTF #2: Adjectivitis

Analysis: The opening paragraph of the second story was:

On a cold night under the soft glow of an ominous October moon, a bloodstained tent lay abandoned. The crackling of the dying fire the only sound in the cold night air. Not even the insects in the vicinity dared make a sound as the wind blew pieces of the shredded tent around its mangled frame.

Although I immediately had a factual map of the scene and a strong sense something unpleasant or unusual had happened, all those adjectives told me how to feel; which short-circuited the formation of an actual emotional reaction.

Trust in the author’s ability to evoke the resonance that horror requires damaged, I moved on.

WTF #3: Bathetic modifier

Analysis: The third story opens in winter, which the narrator describes as very brutal. Brutal is already extreme, so the modifier threw me. My mind skewed sideways into the consideration of whether one could have meaningful degrees of brutality; clearly some things could cause more damage than others, but calling something brutal was already enough to evoke more than dislike. “Very brutal” felt strained; reaching for a greater sense of harm without providing greater evidence.

Realising the author had buried a potentially powerful image under an adjective again, 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.

The Galapagos Incident, by Felix R. Savage (28:50)
My Tomorrow Your Yesterday, by Jason Ayres (10:35)

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.