1/2986, by A. Wendeberg (3:42)

IOD-2986Today I realize that with some books, it’s hard to extract a new lesson to talk about.

What I gleaned about the story: An unnamed protagonist might be dead, or may only be thinking about suicide, but has plenty of time to reminisce.

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WTF #1: Grammar problem

Analysis: If hope wouldn’t bug me, life would be simpler. I hear this kind of construction spoken fairly often among teens, but as part of the narration in a novel, it feels wrong enough to jar me right out of the flow. And coming on the first page, it does not portend good things a’coming in the “Has this seen an editor?” department.

WTF #2: Grammar problem

Analysis: The narration continues to sound like sloppy speech, rather than professionally crafted prose.

But I’m naïve enough to hope the last day of school might magically turn my dismal grades into excellent ones, so that the city council forgets my wrong gender and wrong past, and allows me to be the new turbinehouse keeper.

Yes, it is possible that the author is going for a teen vibe in the protagonist/narrator’s voice, but nothing I’m seeing convinces me that this is an intentional stylistic device. It just feels unedited.

WTF #3: Conspicuous exposition

Analysis: We still don’t know who the narrator is or anything about what’s going on, but we keep getting backstory intrusions in pure tell-mode. But until I have some idea of who is talking, and what their situation is, it’s almost impossible for me to care about their history. It’s like the stranger on the bus who insists on telling you about his Aunt Gertrude’s painful toenail infection last summer. You have no idea who he is, or who she is, and no interest whatsoever in her pain. And when that is mixed here with the ongoing sloppy grammar, it makes for yet another quick flag, thrown in frustration.

Take the Pepsi Challenge: Want to know if my own writing measures up? Download one of these free short stories, in the format of your choice, and decide for yourself.

Collection of Fear by Brendon Meynell (3:03)
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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.