Supernatural Fairytales by Dorlana Vann (2:57)

IOD-SupernaturalFairytalesToday we see that even inarticulate exhalations of emotion have rules of spelling.

What I gleaned about the stories: Urban legends are usually false – unless you are a character in a story.

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

WTF #1: Punctured tension

Analysis: The first story begins with:

Since Jackson couldn’t channel his frustration onto the blank page, he used his fist to pound it into the desk. “Ahhh” he cried, swooshing his fountain pen and several loose pieces of writing-paper to the floor.

The soft language of the second sentence clashed with the strong image of anger in the opening line. While wordless expressions don’t have a definitive spelling, they do have patterns: breath uses breathy phonemes, and so forth. The pattern for anger is plosives and gutterals (**ck, G*d, &c.). Without any roughness, “Ahhh” felt out of place – too soft. I might have carried on, but “swooshed” is also a very soft-feeling action; an angry man might push or shove or hurl, but swooshing didn’t quite ring right.

The two together deflated the tension of the opening enough that I moved on.

WTF #2: Confusing time and location

Analysis: The second story opens with Paris, TX 1873. In more than one country, postal addresses include an alphanumeric code, so my immediate parsing was the story began in the TX 1873 subdivision of Paris. But that didn’t feel right; I wondered if US codes were alphanumeric, and if they were, whether they were in that format.

I decided it was supposed to be Paris, Texas during 1873, but by then I had moved into editing mode so was wondering whether it merely needed another comma or something stronger.

Having stumbled on the first line, I moved on.

WTF #3: Font error

Analysis: Some way into the third story, I encountered: “They took your father. Shameful, cannibalistic creatures, behaving like animals in that dirty ocean….”

The non-italic S in the middle of the dialogue hooked my eye in passing. And having noticed it, I immediately started to wonder how it might have happened.

Realising I had spent long enough considering typography to lose the tension of the story, I pulled the plug.

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.

Dark Matter, by Brett Adams (40:00)
Why Grandma Bought That Car by Anne R. Allen (8:32)

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.