Shooting Arrows by Beverly Ann Flynn (10:31)

IOD-ShootingArrowsToday we discover that the smoothness with which you transition from one character voice to another is as important as how unusual that voice is.

What I gleaned about the stories: People with quite unusual perspectives on life have to clean the house and buy groceries too.

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WTF #1: Lumpy character voice

Analysis: In the middle of a casual description of shopping I encountered a character with a ‘putrid fragrance field’. Still staggering from the change in voice part way through a sentence, I turned the page and tripped over ‘one could deduce without much extrapolation’, and fell out of the story.

Neither of these phrases would have necessarily damaged immersion if spoken by an affected character, but coming in quick succession after the author had established the narrator’s voice as casual modern American was a touch too jarring.

WTF #2:Unexpected transition from narrating to immediate action

Analysis: The narrator is left-handed, and the author has done a good job of making this a characterful inconvenience. Such a good job that I sailed through the transition from immediate events into a basic overview of neurological and psychological differences based on handedness. Only to hit the line: “Just then I witnessed a remarkable confluence of events.”

This had the effect of moving me from treating the story as narrated after the event, to narrated in real time. So I unconsciously started thinking the narrator had been thinking about all the research and was distracted by sudden events. I made it a few more words before my unconscious became loud enough to distract me from the story.

WTF #3: Unexpected punctuation “Waldorf=Astoria”

Analysis: The first time I encountered this I vaguely noted a typo as I read on. However, the second time it happened, it caught my eye. This set off two separate ponderings: it would be a coincidence for two consecutive ‘equals sign’ for ‘hyphen’ typos to both be in the same phrase, so had I missed other instances? Wasn’t Waldorf Astoria unhyphenated?

Either would have been distracting, but combined they pushed me from the story and, once I had flicked back to confirm it hadn’t happened with other hyphens, set me considering reasons why someone would deliberately add an equals sign to the middle of Waldorf Astoria.

Unraveling Time, by Kurt R.A. Giambastiani (2:43)
Copper Knights and Granite Men, by DiBaggio and DiBaggio (11:06)

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.