Deadline, by Keith B Walters (1:18)

IOD score cardToday we see that some kinds of errors can convince readers that your book is haunted. But not in a good way.

What I gleaned about the stories: People who die in winter are sometimes surrounded by a vast and inhospitable void of whiteness.

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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.

WTF #1: Unnecessary page breaks

Analysis: The table of contents commences on the copyright page with the header Contents:. The next page contains the name of the first story. The page after, the name of the second story. While I don’t find the lack of a page break between sections of a book an issue, the lack of a break where one traditionally occurs followed by several breaks which appeared both incorrect and obvious made me think the book had been automatically converted and then not proofed after.

Hoping I wouldn’t encounter further random page breaks or other distracting conversion artefacts, I moved on.

WTF #2: Gulfs of white-space

Analysis: The opening paragraphs of the first story were separated by approximately one clear line of white-space. Although the slight hitch as my eye had to move further than expected to find the next paragraph was a niggle, this non-fiction-style formatting isn’t a terrible distraction. However, the gap between the third and fourth paragraphs was several lines of white-space. This made the gap noticeable enough that my inner editor started to stir; but I pushed it down, assuming this was just a section break of proportional scale. Unfortunately, neither the two paragraphs beyond the chasm nor the paragraphs beyond the next one seemed to be new scenes, and thus my fears of inexplicable white-space are given spectral form.

Limbering up for a trudge between paragraphs, I moved on.

WTF #3: Erroneous comma

Analysis: A few paragraphs into the second story, I encountered a random comma in the middle of a sentence. Anywhere in a story, this might hook my eye; but at the start of a story where any proof reader would be at their freshest, it turned the spectre of inaccessible prose into an axe-wielding certainty.

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.

My Short Story Collection, by Barry Lee Jones (0:42)
Amber Fang, Book 2: Betrayal, by Arthur Slade (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.