Strange Stories And Novellas, by Jillian Kulp (0:56)

IOD score cardToday we see that, while a spellchecker is no substitute for an editor, readers will be strongly concerned if a book hasn’t even been spellchecked.

What I gleaned about the stories: The combination of drunk men and half-dressed women can produce noise.

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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: Unclear clause division

Analysis: A few sentences into the first story, I encountered: In a way it is easy because most of them are drunk, loud and hooting at the dancing, scantily-clad females on stage. As hooting at the dancing is an intelligible clause, my mind parsed it as such; so I juddered slightly when I discovered dancing wasn’t the end of the clause. An instant later, I reparsed the clause as hooting at the scantily-clad females dancing on stage; but I’d already noticed that I’d tripped right at the start of the first page, which raised concerns over the fluidity of the rest of the book.

I therefore moved on.

WTF #2: Capitalisation error

Analysis: The second story opens with: The Acrobatic Vigilantes started out in a dream i had a while back. That lower case i leapt out at me: not just a grammatical error in the first line, but a grammatical error so clear that MS Word would notice. If the book contained such an obvious issue, then it seemed likely it hadn’t been edited or proofed.

Hoping that the rest of the prose would eclipse any technical niggles, I pressed on.

WTF #3: Clause overload

Analysis: The third story opened with: When these four dimensions become too concrete to my meager senses, there’s a place inside that I can go to, a place that sprouted years ago, nursed by an angel whose heart was so vivid and warm that it could only stand to burn in that other world, where the monsters are, for a short time. As each clause is separated by a comma, there’s no indication of which bits fit in which section of description. So, when I hit for a short time, I wasn’t expecting to be back with the main sentence.

A moment later, I reparsed as: When these four dimensions become too concrete to my meager senses, there’s a place inside that I can go to (a place that sprouted years ago, nursed by an angel whose heart was so vivid and warm that it could only stand to burn in that other world, where the monsters are) for a short time. Which triggered the editor part of my mind to consider why the description of the place needed to be nested within the sentence. I couldn’t immediately see any reason why splitting it into two sentences wouldn’t convey the same meaning and emotion with greater readability.

Tangled up at the start of a first page again and in editing mode, 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.

Less than Noble, by J.M. Riou (40:00)
Lonely Out in Space: A Collection of Sci-Fi and Fantasy Short Stories, by M.R. Holman (0:47)

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.