No Way Out and other scary stories, by MJA Ware (2:47)

IOD score cardToday we see that an incomplete or inconsistent ebook feature may be worse than not offering it at all.

What I gleaned about the stories: Children are both more prone to evil than adults and more vulnerable to it.

Find this book on Amazon.

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: Doubly mangled contents page

Analysis: The first half of the entries on the contents page were formatted in blue and underlined, whereas the second half were formatted as normal text. While this could be simple laxity by whoever formatted the book, missing links in a table of contents is one of the most common bugs from automated conversion. Therefore this immediately raised a concern that the rest of the book would also have uncorrected issues from the conversion.

Braced for oddities, I decided to move on. As I was only a page into the first story when I hit the next WTF, I went back to the contents page and clicked the next story; whereupon I discovered that the names were formatted in the traditional manner of a hyperlink but in fact were merely text.

WTF #2: Unfortunate capitalisation

Analysis: At the top of the second page of the opening story, I encountered: The whole side of the house was covered thick with Ivy. Due to the capital, my mind parsed Ivy as a person. Thus, while I corrected from context an instant later, I had this momentary image of Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy painted large across the side of the building.

Another piece of evidence that the book had not been proofed after conversion added to the list, I moved on.

WTF #3: Distracting dashes

Analysis: A few sentences into the second story I encountered a hyphen used in place of an em-dash. This wouldn’t usually cause more than a trivial blip, but the dash was formatted without spaces. [Which is the British style. -JAS] While I prefer the text—text approximation of hair-spaces over the text — text version, when done with a hyphen it looks like a compound noun. Therefore my mind attempted to parse the clause transition as a single word rather than a division.

This wasn’t enough to push me out completely, but did undermine much of the immersion I had. The same sensation of rising almost to the surface and sinking again occurred for the next couple of instances. Then I hit a dash that was formatted with a space before and none after. Barely immersed by this point, this breach of both forms of formatting was sufficient to destroy my remaining faith in an immersive read.

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.

Defragmenting Daniel, by Jason Werbeloff (21:13)
Girl Fights Back, by Jacques Antoine (6:25)

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.