Cats and Other Tales, by Julia Underwood (5:26)

IOD-CatsTalesToday we see that, if the narrator and characters don’t show emotion, readers won’t feel any either.

What I gleaned about the stories: Sometimes we don’t realise something is part of us until it’s too late.

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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.

Kudo #1: Enjoyable turns of language

Analysis: Toward the bottom of the first page, I encountered: my daughter cultivated a delicate display of hysteria. This immediately gave me an image of someone losing control because the “rules” said they had to.

Similar evocative word choices and phrasing dotted the remainder of the stories I read.

WTF #1: Narration rather than action

Analysis: The first story deals with the arrival of a stray cat. While the opening section listed events rather than immersing me in them, the description was engaging enough. So, anticipating that the emotion would increase after the set up, I continued. However, both the cat’s sudden disappearance and its subsequent return were presented with the same objectivity.

Having not been given a reason to sympathise with either the cat or the narrator, I had no interest in what happened after the cat returned. I therefore moved on.

WTF #2: Inconsistent dialect

Analysis: A few paragraphs into the third story, the protagonist’s supervisor says“Ain’t you shifted dat bin yet? There’s a corpse to take to the morgue.” The replacement of th with d in dat combined with Ain’t gave me a strong image of the speaker, so the sudden return of th in the next sentence sounded wrong in my head.

After a moment of considering reasons why an author wouldn’t use Dere’s, I moved on.

WTF #3: Confusing sentence structure

Analysis: A little way into the fourth story, I met: There are two reasons I suppose. One: I’m too lazy and will avoid rows at all costs and two: I could see it gave a lot of people much innocent amusement. As there was no colon after suppose, my instinctive parsing was a list comprised of several separate sentences. The colon after One also supported this assumption. Making the transition into point two without any punctuation, followed immediately by a colon, a surprise.

After a moment in which I automatically parsed the first reason as I’m too lazy and will avoid rows at all costs and two, I untangled the sentence. However, by then I’d already noticed the punctuation, 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.

Groom of the Tyrannosaur Queen, by Daniel M. Bensen (16:50)
Saving Hitler, by Ian James (2:06)

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.