Strawman Made Steel, by Brett Adams (15:57)

IOD-StrawmanSteelToday we see that drama and a strong character can overshadow a recurring problem, but not forever.

What I gleaned about the story: I crash to the floor of the bathroom as the hole in the mirror I came in through heals itself. Fifth floor, Lennox County Hospital. It’s March 18th, 2013 and I’ve got 8 minutes to live. Let’s do this.

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WTF #1: Echoing headwords

Analysis: Three of the first four sentence are “I” sentences. This very quickly establishes the first-person POV, but since the “I”-repetitions do not convey any rhythm or cadence, they end up making the intro feel a bit clumsy, despite the evocative first line.

WTF #2: Galloping “I” disease

Analysis: The pattern of “I” sentences noticed at the start continues, and if anything, gathers mass. I love the premise that is rapidly unfolding here, of a guy who has teleported into a hospital bathroom in order to get himself to medical treatment before he succumbs to his wounds. This kind of “in media res” opening is a delicious way to create mystery and urgency, while at the same time generating empathy for the protagonist, given that he may be about to die. But the “I did this, I did that” cadence is extremely distracting.

Note: Once again I see that the galloping herd of “I”s come in the company of a narrator fixated on his own physical movements. The few places where it lets up seem to be the same places where he talk more about the bigger picture, rather than the myopia of his immediate geography.

Kudos #1: Tough-guy humor

Details: I love the tone of the inner dialogue. He’s exactly the kind of self-aware but slightly caustic protagonist that first-person POV works best with. But I don’t want to quote the humor here and rob anyone of the fun if they choose to check it out.

WTF #3: Galloping “I” disease

Analysis: It abated there for a while, perhaps overshadowed by the drama of his impending death, but after that was resolved and we moved into Chapter 2, the “I”s were back. And they’d brought friends.

Final Note: I’m definitely going to give this more time later. If I can train myself to ignore the galloping “I”s I suspect it will be a blast. So if you’re not particularly sensitive to them, I suggest you give it a try.


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About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is underqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.