Mysterious Darkness: Short Stories, by Melvin Rivers (1:08)

IOD-MysteriousDarknessToday we see that consigning a horrific event to less than a sentence creates a sense of shallowness.

What I gleaned about the stories: Most people in collections of horror stories don’t have lives free of irritation.

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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.

Note: The opening page of the Kindle edition says ‘Printed in the United States of America’. While I didn’t score a WTF for it, my immediate thought was that the book had been automatically converted from print format without anyone checking it afterwards, which raised the further thought that the book could well be filled with formatting niggles.

WTF #1: Missing word

Analysis: Halfway through the first paragraph of the first story I hit: He stood at the revolving glass door of the bank with a bouquet of pink roses in his hands and a smile on his.

Even though the missing word is obvious enough my mind filled it in before I realised it was missing, its absence left me with a sense of discomfort. This discomfort was quickly joined by a worry that, if the first paragraph had something an editor would have caught immediately, had the book been edited before publication?

Trust that the prose would be clear and smooth lost, I moved on.

WTF #2: Bathetic description

Analysis: Each of the stories had a short teaser sentence before the first paragraph. The one for the second story was: A woman, who was almost raped, faces even more terror. Almost being raped is a terrible experience; the sort of event that would more than fill an entire short story. Having it reduced to a subsidiary clause, listed as not the worst thing that happens in the story, simultaneously filled me with a feeling that the story would be overloaded with horrific events and sucked the emotion from the horror of rape.

Whether or not the story itself is a laundry list of shallow shocks, that was the impression I had from the teaser, so I moved on.

WTF #3: More editing issues

Analysis: Story three began: Paul Griffin Stepped inside the office of the Snack and Munch… Because it followed a name, I began to parse Stepped as his surname. I immediately realised it wasn’t, but the trip both brought me to a halt and reminded me this wasn’t the first time I’d been unsure if the book had been edited.

With the image of a poorly-edited book that lacked emotional depth lurking in my mind, 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.

Damage, by Stephen Shea (40:00)
No One's Chosen, by Randall P. Fitzgerald (4:59)

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.