Snapdragon: And Six More Stories with Bite by Jack Kardiac (4:21)

IOD-SnapdragonToday we see that the best formatting is the kind the reader doesn’t notice.

What I gleaned about the stories: If you have never failed, you will as soon as you boast about never having failed.

Find this book on Amazon.

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

WTF #1: Intrusive formatting

Analysis: The book opens with a page of acknowledgements. The first of which is to ‘my wife Kim.’ While I habitually read acknowledgements, I don’t have a strong investment in them, so I found the use of bold for Kim’s name distracting.

Initially, it stood out enough to break the flow of my eyes across the page. Once I had actively noticed the use of bold text, I started to wonder why it was in bold. quick glance down the page revealed other acknowledgees weren’t emboldened, so it wasn’t for the convenience of those named being quickly able to find their names.

Realising I was analysing the text rather than reading, I moved on.

WTF #2: Unclear commentary

Analysis: Having passed the first story without issue, I turned the page to discover a section called ‘Author’s Note’. As it was on a new page rather than appended to a story, my first thought was that the ebook had an ordering issue. The lack of reference to the previous story in the initial paragraphs and the generality of the comments supported this inference that it was a note about the collection.

Discovering several paragraphs in that the note was indeed about the preceding story caused a brutal enough mental reframe that I shifted back into a formatting mindset.

WTF #3: Lack of explanation

Analysis: Just over a page into a story I encountered the line ‘“Your cat’s initials are M.F.?”’ While it might be a phrase in the author’s region common enough to need no explanation, I had no such instinctive association. Therefore, the speaker raising it as if it were a notable fact knocked me out of the flow.

After a moment’s pondering, I had a few possible meanings; but they had radically different tones, so I still didn’t know which was the intended one (or even if I had missed the author’s intent).

My unconscious sense of character disrupted, I pulled the plug.

Kudo #1: Good twists

Analysis: The stories I did complete ended with reveals that were neither telegraphed nor unsupported, making the endings seem plausible yet still a surprise. The endings were similarly satisfying on a more emotional level.

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.

Born to Magic, by David Wind (5:25)
Division: A Collection of Science Fiction Fairytales by Lee S Haw (9:13)

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.