Scaring the Crows: 21 Tales for Noon or Midnight, by Gregory Miller (10:13)

Today we see that if you tell readers too loudly that your book is great, they’ll assume you don’t trust your stories to stand on their own.

What I gleaned about the stories: If re-enacting the path of famously tricky mystery, be sure you look where you’re stepping.

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: Authorial bragging

Analysis: The front matter contains several pages of quotes about this book from various sources and others by the author. It started strongly, but I was overcome with tedium by the middle of the second page. I also wondered why the author felt the need to tell readers at such length that the book was good: was this a collection where the characters and plots wouldn’t prove their own worth?

Realising that I had completely forgotten the book in favour of trying to recall whether “methinks he doth protest to much” was from Macbeth or not, I moved on.

WTF #2: Italic glitch

Analysis: A short distance into the collection, I hit fearful. My immediate thought was that the formatting had gone wrong and not been caught in a proof-read. An instant later, I began to wonder whether it was intended; however, no good reason for the emphasis occurred.

This delay weakened immersion enough that I noticed that either way was ugly, and thus moved on.

Kudo #1: Balance of stories

Analysis: The stories display a good balance of similarity and variation that avoided a jarring transition from one flavour to a radically different one.

Kudo #2: Solid characterisation

Analysis: Each character, narrators especially, felt distinct, further avoiding the sense of sameness that can come from reading an author’s works back-to-back.

WTF #3: Random line break

Analysis: A few stories later, a line suddenly ended in the middle of a sentence. The sentence continued at the start of the next paragraph, but by then my mind had assumed that both a section of the text had been omitted and that—as is usual—a new mental image had begun.

The depth of immersion I’d built gone in an instant, 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 Final Formula, by Becca Andre (26:19)
The Last Outpost, by Hannah Ross (2:04)

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.