Bionic Punchline, by Damon L Wakes (12:04)

IOD-BionicPunchlineToday we see that an error at the end of a section stands out just as much as one at the start.

What I gleaned about the stories: Whether facing zombies, supervillains or Mongol warlords, some people can’t help laughing.

Find this book on Amazon. [The ebook doesn’t seem to be there any more, so we’ve linked to the paperback. -Jeff]

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 lose immersion, I stop reading that story and move on to the next one. As usual, I stop reading after the third WTF.

Kudo #1: Encouraging opening

Analysis: The introduction to the collection is written in the format of an old-school text-based adventure game, which immediately gave me the impression the collection was going to be slightly playful but reverent.

The pastiche was also mostly focused on the collection and less than two pages, which suggested the author would put the needs of the story before the desire to display his own cleverness.

WTF #1: Clunky description

Analysis: A few sentences into the first story, I hit:

Bruce jumped in surprise, accidentally pulling the trigger, but only after he had also made an ungainly flailing motion with the shotgun. The result was that he not only missed the zombie, but the recoil caught him completely by surprise, prompting further flailing.’

The order of time is reversed in the first sentence, which forced me to re-evaluate events. On it’s own this wouldn’t have been very problematic; however, it did move me towards analysis rather than experience, which made the issue with the second sentence more severe.

While the second sentence isn’t incorrect, it is wordy. And, because prose does conventionally flow from cause to effect, the opening phrase (“The result was that…”) doesn’t add any information. So, it slowed down the fight unnecessarily.

Having noticed two niggles in the first paragraph, I moved on.

WTF #2: Jokes falling flat

Analysis: A comic superhero yarn opened with some set up of the characters, including a reference to Tautology Boy. This raised the image of a character spinning puns or satirical observations. However, Tautology Boy’s first line was::

‘“No,” admitted Tautology Boy. “Your identity is disguised due to your disguise.”’

While it is a tautology, it only repeats the same word so, lacking a comparison, it is neither funny nor cunning. And, as anyone who has tried comedy or music can attest, one stumble can silence a room.

The building humour having fizzled, I moved on.

WTF #3: Punctuation errors at the end of a section

Analysis: While overall the collection seemed well proofed, I was leaving a story and tripped over:

‘“I think…he completes me. Oh, but I never got his number!” and she ran out the door.’

She isn’t saying anything, so the action should be a separate sentence. Continuing into subsequent paragraphs while my mind caught up with the error might have kept me immersed enough to continue, but hitting a break straight after meant the error took my full attention.

So, I pulled the plug.

Kudo #2: Engaging range of ideas and voices.

Analysis: The collection comprises over thirty flash fictions, most of which didn’t feel at all stereotypical, and none of which felt shallow.

I will therefore definitely be going back to this to read more casually.

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.

Feyland: The Dark Realm, by Anthea Sharp (8:38)
Opal Eggs of Fire, by James Calderwood (4:38)

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.