Short Stories Part 1., by L.L. Caulton (1:16)

IOD score cardToday we see that issues common to one point-of-view are equally distracting when they occur in others.

What I gleaned about the stories: Postmen, alarm clocks, and other normal trappings of morning can be the harbingers of horror.

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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: Comma splicing

Analysis: The first sentence of the opening story is: The kids were upstairs getting ready for school when Kathleen saw the postman, she opened the front door to Charlie who was whistling a summer tune as he wandered up the driveway.

The comma after postman suggested that there was going to be an aside or other subclause about the postman, so a new action by Kathleen tripped me. As my eyes fill my buffer faster than I parse, I was then hit by the second comma splice of Kathleen’s dialogue.

Utterly into editing mode, I noted in passing that the closing quotation mark was mis-formated, then moved on.

WTF #2: Pronoun echo

Analysis: The second story had the same comma splicing issue; however, I decided to give the benefit of the doubt and not score another WTF for it. The story’s protagonist was a woman who didn’t fit in – I knew this because the first sentence told me that she’d always felt she was the odd one out. Unfortunately, this pattern of stating past events or her feelings about things in the form of She verbed… continued through the first paragraph. By the middle of the first page (and still in the opening paragraph), the pattern was noticeable enough that my mind had started to guess whether the next sentence would have the same structure.

Pronouns echoing like a knell, I moved on.

WTF #3: Paragraph divorce

Analysis: The third story opened with a woman getting ready for work. The shorter opening paragraph was free of comma splices and ended before any echoes built. However, it was followed by what I estimate as four lines of white space. This turned my saccade into a search pattern, breaking the flow of text.

On its own, this might well have been enough to score a WTF; but combined with the mis-formatted dialogue earlier, it raised strong concerns that the text had been automatically converted then uploaded without proofreading.

Dreading that the text might be filled with flow breakers, 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.

A Conspiracy of Shadows, by Randy Nargi (2:35)
Angels in the Moonlight, by Caimh McDonnell (40:00)

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.