Review: Making a Gilling

making a gilling
Dung Beetle

One dung Beetle
(1 out of 4 rating)

This is a marginal story, buried under some of the worst writing I’ve seen. I realize that the author isn’t a native English speaker, but if someone is going to publish short stories and novels in English, they can at least take the time to turn on an English spell-checker. It’s annoying enough to see words like “af” instead of “of”, or strange new compound words when a space is missing, but then there is the word “sacret”, which could be either secret or sacred, and totally changes the meaning of a paragraph.

There are even more errors in the story’s grammar than in its spelling. I wonder if the author just wrote the story stream-of-consciousness, then submitted it as a finished story without even looking it over. A high school English teacher could use it as an exam, grading the students by what percentage of the errors they found.

Literary types often say that the number one rule of writing is “show, don’t tell”. The first 17% of this story is pure tell. This would probably never make it past an editor or publisher, and might cause some readers to switch to another story. (I’m probably a little more tolerant of telling than most readers; someday I’d like to see a skilled author write a couple of telling paragraphs, then rewrite those paragraphs in “show” mode, so I could see the difference. The key would be to find an example where the author actually tried to do a good job in “tell” mode, rather than presenting it as an example of what not to do.)

Most of the story’s plot revolves around a swordfight, but apparently the author didn’t even bother to google the subject, or look it up on Wikipedia. He repeatedly uses the word “parade” instead of “parry”. He obviously didn’t put any more time into research than he did proofreading.

The Spoiler DragonThe Spoiler DragonThe Spoiler Dragon

The story’s title led me to believe it was going to involve fish or some sentient aquatic species, but it turns out that Gilling is the name of one of the two characters. The other character, Loki, gets Gilling to agree to a secret duel to the death. Gilling has only a fraction of Loki’s swordfighting skill, and knows he will lose. When he does lose, Loki lets him live, and blackmails him since he participated in a secret duel (apparently duels are OK unless they are secret). At this point, Gilling (remember, he’s the guy who came to a duel even though he expected to die) caves in. To me, that wasn’t any payoff after putting up with all of the bad spelling and grammar.


  1. Blimey. Thank you for reading that so I don’t have to. 😉

  2. Wow. Doesn’t even sound like there’s a complete story here, even if you ignore the abysmal execution. Makes you wonder why it was published in the first place :/

    1. It was supposed to be a promotional vehicle for a novel, but it left me with no desire to read anything further by the author.

  3. I seem to have a relatively high tolerance for being told rather than shown stuff, at least if it’s plot-related rather than attempts to fill in character. I think this might be connected to my fondness for old-time radio, where telling is nearly unavoidable. (This can also reach giddy heights of expository dashes, where characters fit their whole backstories into two and a quarter sentences in the first act.)

  4. […] super-being – puns – lawyers facilitating end of sentient life – big hippie hug ending Making a Gilling – no spell check – no proofreading – no topic research Seventy – implausible science – […]

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