I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. A messed up word here, a punctuation thing there, and I can overlook it. But there are those that I cannot overlook, and it’s this story: “You’ve Got (Blutbaden) Mail“.
I have a personal pet-peeve when a story description is nothing but a clip from the story. I mean, that can work if you’re actually setting something up for the reader. But the description of this story doesn’t really do much. But it goes beyond that. I personally didn’t get past the first paragraph. Why? Here it is:
It had all started rather innocently. Whilst trawling through Marie’s trailer one late evening, Nick happened across a very old watch. At first he had been cautious as most of the trailers contents were either weapons, books or more weapons. What if it send him back in time? Or forward? What if poisoned the wearer? Holding it up to the light, he had noticed that it was stopped. Its hands frozen forever on three minutes past twelve. He wonders if it has any relevance. Knowing the things that lurk in the dark interior of the trailer, probably. Carefully setting it back down, he forgot about it.
So the things that get me right off the bad are the tense changes – sometimes within the same short sentence. Such as the sentence “Holding up to the light, he had noticed that it was stopped.” Present tense in the first five words, but not the rest of the sentence. Same thing with “Carefully setting it back down, he forgot about it.”
Writers: You give your readers whiplash when you write like this. You need to pick a tense, and stick with it. A good way to tell, is to read your story aloud. If it doesn’t sound right, then you need to fix it. If you’re not a native-English speaker, or if you just don’t know what to fix, then find a beta. It’s relatively easy these days! There’s a community on LiveJournal called “Find Me A Beta“; people are there to help you. Trust me!