Eye of the Moonrat, by Trevor H. Cooley (8:31)

IOD-EyeMoonratIt’s not enough that characters react believably to events in the story. They must also react in a timely manner.

What I gleaned about the story: Ewzad Vriil is an ambitious wizard on a quest for power, but he does not realize that the power is on a quest for him.

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WTF #1: Structural echo

Analysis: First we have: Ewzad put on a grin as his friend came into view. And this is followed two paragraphs later with: The large man entered the chamber with a smile that faded as Ewzad came into view. There seems to be no rhythmic device at play, just a repetition of a sentence construction that felt awkward to me the first time around. So the second time, it rang out clear and I had to stop to examine the text for signs of intent that I might have missed. But I see none, so I’m raising the flag.

WTF #2: Unrealistic reaction

Analysis: Having greeted his friend, Ewzad then tricks him into leaning over the sacrificial altar, while he himself holds the ceremonial dagger. Then the expected happens, and Ewzad drives the blade into his friend’s back, to which the friend reacts with: “What?” A rivulet of blood ran down the captain’s chin. He stared at Ewzad, with shock-filled eyes. “Why? Why did you do that?” It isn’t until two paragraphs later, after the talking is over that the friend begins to shriek in pain. The story explains this by imbuing the dagger with a pulse of energy just before the shrieking begins, but it still felt like a gross under-reaction at first, followed by too much delay. And even if we ignore the delay, having a knife driven so deeply into your back that blood spews from you mouth and down your chin is surely a violent and painful enough incident that you will cry out, maybe even scream, isn’t it? Doesn’t carrying on a conversation instead completely undermine the severity of the attack? It does to me.

WTF #3: Echoing headwords

Analysis: The second scene seems dense with “He”-headed sentences, including a stretch of three or four in succession. Given that I had already skipped one or two echoes earlier, this one was enough to trigger a full break.

The Last Great Hero, by Scott J Robinson (9:24)
The Emperor's Daughter, by Richard Flunker (3:02)

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.