Call Me Yesterday, by Tim Beresford (3:40)

IOD-CallMyYesterdayToday we see that seven of nine can either be sexy or frustrating, depending on context.

What I gleaned about the story: Mark Wright works on the trading floor for BankAfrica. Meanwhile, someone has invented a way to send messages back from the future. I suspect we’re about to witness a new kind of financial crime. I didn’t get far enough to see what terminology the author uses, but if I ever write about it, I’m totally calling it “pretime trading.”

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WTF #1: Redundant redundancies

Analysis: The story opens with the description of two scientist-types in the midst of some technological experiment. The second paragraph of scene description gives me this final sentence about a small aperture in the lab wall.:

All she could see through it at that moment was a dim, dark shadow, hidden in the grey gloom beyond. 

By my count there are fully five words in that sentence that are all trying to say the same thing: dim, dark, shadow, grey, and gloom. One could further argue that “All she could see” and “hidden” are also somewhat redundant with each other, but that’s more of a quibble than substantive. I only point it out because, ordinarily I wouldn’t even have noticed that, much less commented on it. It was only after I’d stopped to examine the 5-play that I really noticed that minor secondary problem.

WTF #2: Echoing headwords

Analysis: The very first three sentences all begin with “The,” but I didn’t pull the plug at that point. Those were followed by two “In”-headed sentences, and then another “The,” but I still did not pull it. By the end of the third paragraph, even with two more “The” echoes, I gamefully tried to hang on. But two paragraphs further down, when three of its five sentences proved themselves to be “The”-headed as well, I finally caved to the mounting pressure.

It seems that both the author and any editor who might have looked at it are both unaware of the echoing problem. But maybe this was just a bad patch.

WTF #3: Echoing headwords

Analysis: Sigh. Once I’ve charged an echoing headword violation, two things happen. 1) I try to let the little ones slide for a while, since I’ve already charged for the damage, but 2) I get increasingly sensitized to them. In this case, I finished the first scene and moved on to the next, which began with a nice bit of description about the frenzy on a trading floor. But just as I was beginning to slip into the world, I ran into an echo-wall. First a pair of “The”-headed sentences reared up to jangle all my previously sensitized nerves, and then seven of the next nine sentences all began with “He.”  In Star Trek circles, that designation may be sexy, but this is not that Seven of Nine.

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.

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About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is uniquely unqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.