Honest Fibs, by Nicholas C. Rossis (40:00)

IOD-HonestFibsToday we see that every time a reader needs to unravel the formatting, immersion falters.

What I gleaned about the stories: The tall tales people tell each other can be more believable than reality.

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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 2: The stories in the collection are set within a framing story. To avoid potentially becoming confused if later sections relied on earlier ones, and thus losing immersion unfairly, I only read the first segment.

WTF #1: Body text in italics

Analysis:The framing story begins set in italics, which I parsed as internal dialogue. However, after several paragraphs, I encountered text set in Roman, which conflicted with my parsing of the typefaces. Needing evidence, I automatically began skimming paragraphs to confirm whether it was internal dialogue or not.

Half a page later, I concluded that the entire story was set with typefaces reversed; however, by then I’d lost my focus on the story so moved on.

Kudo #1: Interesting twists on tropes

Analysis: While not all the stories contain a twist ending, the ones that do are references to classic tropes of their genre without being either stale or obtuse.

WTF #2: Odd Punctuation

Analysis: A short way through a story, I encountered: “Please contact the impound authorities at the Alpheratz station as soon as your”—he chuckled—“technical problems are solved. They’ve been notified of your arrival and will be awaiting you.”

While em-dashes are a correct way of indicating an interruption, they are inserted at the point of interruption instead of other closing punctuation. As these bracket the stage business rather than sitting within the dialogue, my mind therefore treated them as being one of the other uses of em-dashes and tried to untangle the intended meaning.

A moment later, I realised they were marking the interruption, but by then had already moved into analysing rather than reading mode.

Kudo #2: Varied voice

Analysis: While there is a common style, each story has a distinct narrative voice which fits its characters, from highly-trained Jewish time traveller to a post-apocalyptic junk trader.

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.

On Lucky Shores, by Kerry J. Donovan (25:47)
Anonymous, by Christine Benedict (1:54)

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.