Collection of Fear by Brendon Meynell (3:03)

IOD-CollectionOfFearToday we see that if the text isn’t free of errors, readers will assume odd word choices and structures are errors too.

What I gleaned about the stories: Darkness lurks, waiting to pounce on the unwary.

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Note: This is a short story collection, so the rules are slightly different from standard Immerse or Die: instead of reading on every time I loose immersion, I stop reading that story and move on to the next one. As usual, I stop reading after the third WTF.

WTF #1: Inaccessible style

Analysis: The first paragraph of the first story felt verbose, but as mimicking a more old-fashioned style is common in ghost stories I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, the second paragraph was less accessible:

However this picturesque mental health facility that was on the border of Lake Alice itself had a dark and sinister secret, one that would not only force the closure of the facility in October 1999, but would force an apology from the New Zealand Government and compensation payouts to a number of former patients that had once filled the villas in a desperate bid for assistance to rid themselves of the various mental illnesses they once, and some still do, suffer from.

Both the extensive amount of story thrust upon me and that story being delivered in a single long sentence left me feeling somewhat breathless. Potentially, had it been split into several sentences it might have fallen within the bounds of a ghost-story style, but as it was I moved on.

WTF #2: Spelling glitches

Analysis: Encountering three misspelt words in the first two paragraphs of the second story, I lost my faith that the odd constructions and verbosity were a deliberate choice. This shifted the text from something to be experienced to something to be proofed for potential issues, so I moved on.

WTF #3: Spelling error causing actual confusion

Analysis: Towards the bottom of the first page of the third story I encountered: ‘“Scotch on the rocks,” he ordered from the young brunette who stood behind the bar as he walked in at took his position on the stool.’ When I hit ‘at’ I expected a statement of time (as he walked in at noon) or something else that fitted (as he walked in at a fast pace); so when I found myself in another clause altogether the sentence fell apart. Re-reading, I realised the ‘at’ should have been an ‘and’, but I had already stalled out.

As the frequent extremely long, complex sentences prevented the writing from being invisible when they were free of errors, I felt the prose would drown the ideas so pulled the plug.

Kudo #1: Interesting hints of story

Analysis: The opening paragraphs of the first two stories engaged me enough that I pushed through the first few paragraphs of the third story to find more rather than bouncing out at the first convoluted sentence.

So, I might try one of these stories again without the rules making me move on, to see if the concepts deliver.

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.

Law of the Wolf, by S. A. Hunt (5:46)
1/2986, by A. Wendeberg (3:42)

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.