Love Without Gun Control, by M Christian (10:51)

IOD-LoveGunControlToday we discover that less accessible prose makes readers less forgiving.

What I gleaned about the stories: The world is a grimy place but some of the grime is really groovy if you look at it just right.

Find this book on Amazon.

Note: While there was a contents page none of the entries were hyperlinks, and the NCX table only contained ‘beginning’ and ‘end’. I considered scoring this lack of any way of navigating the book a WTF but decided to give the benefit of the doubt.

WTF #1: Too many made-up words in a short period

Analysis: The introduction is written in the style of an instruction manual for a pulp sci-fi device mingled with the crude humour of a nineteen-fifties, bar-room comedian. I began to surface during the paragraph on using my genitals to open the casing, but pressed on.

A few paragraphs later, every third word became a made-up word. This trend continued, intermixed with phrases whose acronyms were (barely) humorous.

To begin with the parody was quite amusing, but the relentless density of puns and pseudo-jargon was too high. I was going back to reread almost every sentence and didn’t feel like laughing when I did, so I decided to move on.

WTF #2: Punctuation errors

Analysis: I noticed several subordinate clauses apparently opening with say a dash or a comma and closing with a different mark, but was still just about in the story. I finally admitted to not being immersed when I noticed a clause after a colon starting with a capital letter.

I know from beta-reading other people’s work that I can miss typos if a story grips me, so noticing the punctuation for several pages is a good sign the story isn’t drawing me in.

WTF #3: Inconsistent dialect

Analysis: The first page contains the line “Want a drink?” So I stumbled slightly when, a few pages later, a character says “Wanna hit?” Both are attempts to render “Do you want…?” in natural speech; however, they are neither the same nor very different, so my mind unconsciously pinged without consciously knowing why, causing me to start analysing text rather than flowing with the story.

Once I started going back to check text on previous pages, I knew I had surfaced.

In actual dialogue people might have subtle differences of pronunciation, but fiction dialogue is condensed so needs occasional clear dialects not frequent subtle differences. The issue here was exacerbated because the prose had begun to grab me enough to slide over the little things.


Salvation, by Lizzie Ashworth (7:31)
The Last Great Hero, by Scott J Robinson (9:24)

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.