Flower’s Fang, by Madison Keller (4:17)

IOD-FlowersFangToday we see that, with enough echoes piled together, even the walls of Jericho can be brought down.

What I gleaned about the story: A furry forest creature of some kind has the power of telepathy, but fears being discovered by the Prince.

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Note: The artwork on the cover is very good. It conveys a specific mood and genre, and reminds me of fantasy covers from the 80s and 90s.

Note: The story opens with Arara the forest creature mentally reviewing her fears. This is not quite the “reviewing how I got here” cliché, but it’s close. Fortunately, it’s also brief, so I didn’t charge it a WTF. But as a general rule, I think it’s problematic to start inside the protagonist’s head, subjecting us to the protagonist’s inner thoughts before we even know them. Moreover, inner dialogue is almost always written in tell mode, which is a very non-immersive way to spend those precious first few minutes of a reader’s time.

WTF #1: Echoing paragraph heads

Analysis: Usually when I talk about echoing headwords, I’m talking about sequential sentences that begin with the same word. But echoes don’t just form at the sentence level. They can form at the paragraph, scene, or even chapter level as well. In this case three of the first four paragraphs begin with the protagonist’s name: Arara. The repetition got rather distracting, and coming on the first page, that’s a bad sign.

WTF #2: Declarative sentences on parade

Analysis: The noun verbed. The other noun verbed. Those nouns all verbed together. There were a few non-conformant sentences, but several places seemed to bog down with a heavy trudge of declarations. The solution is not necessarily to insert a bunch of questions, or imperative demands – it’s about rhythm and variety. Authors need to be sensitive to the length, complexity, and structural shape of their prose.

WTF #3: Echoing sentence heads.

Analysis: I was able to skip past a few cases where the same headword was used twice in a row, but when I reached a five-sentence paragraph that was headed with “The,” “She,” “She,” “The,” and “The,” I could no longer ignore the echo chamber effect.

A Summoner's Confession, by Khana Santamaria (10:27)
Song of the Summer King, by Jess E. Owen (6:35)

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.