Bodies Everywhere, by Barbara A Martin (1:49)

IOD-BodiesEverywhereToday we see that if a phrase is open to interpretation, prior paragraphs influence which way it will be read.

What I gleaned about the stories: Even in the middle of a heist, some people can’t resist gossiping.

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 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: Wonky formatting

Analysis: The copyright notice displayed as (¶ added by reviewer to indicate hard line breaks):

All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced,¶

scanned, sold or distributed in any printed or electronic form¶

without written permission.

However, when I paged on to the introduction, the left margin shifted in by several em’s, which raised my concerns about formatting again.

Now half-expecting the text to be filled with distracting line-breaks and such, I scored a WTF. However, in the interests of giving the prose a fair shot, I decided to count it as occurring before the text started.

WTF #2: Context-enhanced punctuation issue

Analysis: The introduction thanks the Christian God, before moving onto the specifics of writing the collection. Part way through the second paragraph, I encountered You’re a saint Bill. As the sentiment is directed to Bill, there should be a comma before his name. While a missing comma might not push me out if it happens after several pages of immersive prose, here it came straight after a reference to divinity; thus, I half-parsed saint Bill as a name.

I untangled myself immediately, but anything that tangles me on the first page damages my trust enough to score it and move on.

WTF #3: Deflated tension

Analysis: The first story opens with the protagonist talking about how they shouldn’t be breaking in somewhere while in the course of actually breaking in, which immediately started the tension building. I wondered why breaking in was important enough to overcome their scruples, and whether their nerves would lead to them failing.

Then, at the bottom of the first page, the protagonist narrates: By the way…, and then goes into a several paragraph description of their name, personality and, appearance, followed by that of their companion.

All the tension drained away, so 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.

The Vampire of Northanger, by Bryce Anderson (40:00)
Strategy of Numbers, by Clint Irwin (6:04)

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.