Conspiracy, by Ian Welch (6:28)

IOD-ConspiracyToday we see that readers want to find something original on the first page.

What I gleaned about the story: Craig Watson is in trouble with the missus for missing his anniversary. It seems he loves his job more than he loves her. And his boss is a real hard-ass, too. Chances are good that what follows will be more hardship for poor old Craig.

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WTF #1: Hyperbole hurricane

Analysis: Craig Watson sat on his bed, his head awash with a cacophony of swirling confused thoughts. He racked his memory to recall any relevant event from the last six months to throw some light or offer an explanation for his present predicament. A million scrambled small hints; subtle red flags bombarded his brain. It suddenly dawned on him like being hit on the head with a sledge hammer… With these opening lines, the author is trying too hard to sell Craig’s crisis, and this ends up drawing attention to the words rather than drawing me into the world. Everything is bigger than big, more important than important. It would have been much more effective to show Craig doing something that convinces me that he sees it as an crisis. As it is, it’s all just tell, and I don’t have any reason to believe what I’m being sold.

WTF #2: Clumsy exposition

Analysis: The third paragraph, presented as a remembered line of dialogue spoken by his boss earlier, is entirely unbelievable as a line of human speech. It carries way more details and justifications than his boss would have dumped in a single utterance, and is obviously intended as a lecture to the reader, bringing them up to speed on the backstory. Furthermore, this remembrance is Craig’s explanation to himself about why he missed his anniversary, and I’m not sure which is the bigger cliché: marriage trouble being triggered by a husband who forgot his anniversary, or an inattentive husband blaming his workaholism on an unreasonable supervisor. Either way, my eyes rolled hard. Immersion was definitely thrown out the window.

WTF #3: Cliché dialogue

Analysis: “You love your bloody job more than you love me.” The cliché dialogue, amplified by a number of headword echoes made it difficult for me to stay in the story. And now I’ve popped out again, all before reaching the bottom of page 2.


Cadman's Gambit, by D.P. Prior (13:59)
Darkness Creeps Forth, by Brian Greiner (4:15)

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.