The Seal of Solomon, by Ryan Mitchell (10:00)

IOD-SealSolomonEven with good prose and decent mechanics, a sentence parade can still overturn the apple cart.

What I gleaned about the story: A young man can’t resist the ritual of street fighting for glory and it gets him into a whole heap of trouble he wasn’t expecting. Maybe.

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Note: Full left justification and paragraph breaks is not my favorite layout. I’m not sure why people use it, because it takes up more vertical space than the standard, and without the indents, it is actually harder to scan to the next paragraph head.

WTF #1: Name change

Analysis: Darren unleashed a fusillade of jabs, striking Roger’s stomach and head. Up until now, the opponent was named “Piggy.” Now, suddenly, it’s Roger. Upon looking back, I see that he was introduced as Roger “Piggy” Darson, but with all the other references since then being to “Piggy,” that Roger thing just slid into a mental gutter. So when I encountered it here, it looked as though an editor had forgotten to change the name, and I had to backtrack to figure it out. It’s fine to drop in  alternate noun phrases for variety. Instead of “Piggy,” you could call him “the dim-eyed brawler,” or even “the towering mass of rage-meat,” but if you switch up the actual name you’re using, it can easily throw readers into a spin.

WTF #2: Echoing headwords

Analysis: Three paragraphs in a row on page two begin with “Darren,” and then a bit farther down, we get some sentences echoing on “He.” And as I’ve commented on with other books, these echoes seem to be associated with a growing declarative sentence parade, and are most prominent in sections that are preoccupied with the physical movements of the characters.

WTF #3: Declarative sentences on parade

Analysis: By the third scene, I’m now firmly locked into the plodding trudge of declarative sentences. This happened. That happened. They went here. They went there. There’s just nothing to pull my attention into the story. Nothing for me to consciously evaluate or think about. Just a steady diet of procedural facts. So when the 10-minute bell rang, I had not yet been drawn into the world, and I stopped the clock.

Prospero's Half-Life, by Trevor James Zaple (3:48)
Riker, by Steve Loton (11:52)

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.