My Short Story Collection, by Barry Lee Jones (0:42)

IOD score cardToday we see that if you tell readers the story situation is boring, they just might believe you.

What I gleaned about the stories: Radical change most often occurs as a result of things not going as usual.

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: Random page breaks

Analysis: The first page contained only the title. The second page contained the author’s name. This breaking of the title page across two pages immediately raised the worry that the text had not been proofed after conversion.

My concern was perhaps further strengthened by the book I had tested the previous week having part of its front matter sliced and spread across many pages, then containing further more distracting issues.

After wondering for an instant if the authors had used the same automated conversion program, I moved on.

WTF #2: Misleading formatting

Analysis: The first story opened with:

1. What the physicians and psychiatrists didn’t realize was that the death of their patient might mean the death of humanity as we know it.

You still don’t remember anything up to and including your last mission.”

The leading number meant that I expected the first paragraph to be a question or first item in a list. So when it turned out to be neither I felt a certain confusion. The increased weight of the first paragraph only emphasised this misleading signal further.

After a moment, I realised it might be a conflation of section numbering and specialised setting for the first paragraph of a section; however, by then my trust that the formatting would add data seamlessly was already lost.

WTF #3: Highlighting the boredom

Analysis: The second story began with two paragraphs telling me that the characters on a space ship were bored and welcomed any new stimulus, then started a new chapter. With no frame of reference for who the characters were or whether the journey was important, my expectation defaulted to the only thing I did know: this spaceship journey lacked entertainment.

Respecting the author’s right to warn me their story lacked interest, I went to do something more entertaining.

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.

A Conspiracy of Shadows, by Randy Nargi (8:43)
Deadline, by Keith B Walters (1:18)

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.