Owned, by Jess C Scott (3:41)

IOD score cardToday we see that you can deviate from any rule of usage if you give the reader a reason to trust your change of course.

What I gleaned about the stories: Even lawyers can feel a visceral sense of satisfaction at the worst of criminals being murdered.

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: Apparent lack of proof reading

Analysis: The book has a brief Hemingway quotation as an epigraph. Unfortunately, there is a space in the middle of one of the words. These issues niggle at me under the best of circumstances, but on a page that contained only three lines it leapt out so clearly I couldn’t conceive of anyone missing it on even a casual glance. Thus, my faith that the book had been proof read was shattered.

Hoping it was an aberration, I moved on.

WTF #2: Duplicated description

Analysis: A couple of sentences into the first story, the protagonist attempts to come up with: workable plans we could execute. Workable means practical or feasible, i.e. one that can be executed with the people and resources available. So, when I hit the qualifier that it had to be one that they could execute, my unconscious yanked me sideways into a consideration of what a plan that was practical with what the protagonist had available but still couldn’t be done would look like.

At which point, I realised the qualifier might actually be broader than its subject. For example, when I practised archery frequently, I could place an arrow into the centre of a target at ten yards with reasonable likelihood, so could execute a plan that involved me hitting a series of small areas with arrows; however, I wouldn’t have said it was practical to base a plan on me being able to hit six in a row.

Realising I was well into philosophy rather than the protagonist’s story, I moved on.

Kudo #1: Non-standard usage flagged

Analysis: The second story plays out in a series of emails. The second correspondent’s emails feature obvious errors of spelling, punctuation, and so forth, which I noticed immediately. However, because the story opened with an email-style header and the non-standard usage was consistent with itself, I parsed it as a trait of the character rather than an issue with the author’s prose, and thus was lead deeper rather than being distracted.

WTF #3: Galloping I disease

Analysis: The third story is in first person PoV. The events had a hint of an interesting story, but the number of sentences commencing with “I” was high enough that halfway down the first page I found myself trying to guess whether the next sentence would be I [verbed] or not.

The echo having drowned out the story, 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 Watch (The Red Series Book 1), by Amanda Witt (19:58)
The Prince of Ravens, by Hal Emerson (40:00)

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.