The Meat Market, by James Chalk (8:47)

IOD-MeatMarketA cool vibe trying to shine out from under the scar tissue of weak editing.

What I gleaned about the story: A tough guy trapped by bureaucracy on an unpleasant planet, is going to find out just how unpleasant a place it can really be.

Find the book on Amazon.

WTF #1: It was the biggest damn knife I’d ever seen… Sanctity is a pretty strange place… So there I was stuck for two more months… There is plenty of nudity and sex… 

Analysis: The verb tense keeps flopping back and forth between past and present, right from the very start. For example, the quoted fragments above all happened within the first 200 words. A single errant verb I can slide past, but repeated alternation like this makes for a very bumpy reading experience, and when I start paying attention to the bumps, immersion has broken.

WTF #2: (The big guy has just slashed at him with the knife.) In an instant, my mind tumbled back through the years and I was in the training hall with Uncle Thomas. 

Analysis: In the time it took for the protagonist to think that thought, the big guy would have slashed four more times and spilled protag’s stomach cavity out onto the floor. When you are attacked, you do not suddenly harken back to memories of your training hall experiences. Muscle memory kicks in and you drop the guy with five combination moves that you don’t even remember practising. Either that, or you’re dead. Have your man drop some serious whack-bam-socky on the bad guy and save the reminiscing about Uncle Thomas for after the fight.

WTF #3: A mélange of editing glitches

Analysis: Over the next page or so, I found a case where past perfect was needed but missing, tripped over a compound adjective that wasn’t hyphenated, and stumbled through some oddly spelled patois dialogue, and a jarring exclamation mark used in narration. No one of these was enough to trip me up by itself, but taken together they had me cringing a little, wondering whether it would continue or whether it was just a rough patch. But either way, cringing and thinking about rough patches is a sign of not being immersed.

Note: The frustrating thing is, I got a sense that there was a cool story brewing here. The little bit of the world I saw seemed to have some clever thought behind it, and the protag’s situation seemed intriguing enough to keep reading. A solid copy edit from an experienced editor might have made a world of difference with this one.

The Sorcerous Crimes Division: Devilbone, by Scott Warren (4:25)
Mad Tinker's Daughter, by J.S. Morin (40:00)

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 underqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.