Legacy Code, by Autumn Kalquist (4:59)

IOD-LegacyCodeToday I begin to dig a bit deeper into what causes declarative sentence parades.

What I gleaned about the story: Era is pregnant. The baby might have the Defect. The doctor has the results. Dritan promised to be here. Era is alone.

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WTF #1: Declarative sentence parade

Analysis: Here’s an excellent example paragraph taken from the middle of a declaration parade on the first page:

Era stood, shaking, and walked up the stairs. The Paragon had dedicated all of level four to Medical. She kept going until she reached it. Several colonists waited in front of medlevel’s doors. A whir sounded, and the locks disengaged. 

Notice how all five sentences are almost entirely independent of one another. It’s almost like how I imagine the inner narrative of a severely autistic child might sound. Yes, there are basic physical facts being observed, but they appear to have no connection, they elicit no emotional reaction, convey no portents. Just fact, trudge, after fact, trudge, after fact. Trudge. It’s almost invisible when it happens in just a single isolated sequence, but the paragraph before it did the same thing, and several others on the page as well. Taken together, it begins to feel like walking through a creepy, silent warehouse full of posed manikins. in part, it might be caused by the transient nature of the subjects. Of the five sentences, only two have the same subject, which is probably where my sense of almost autistic disengagement might be coming from.

And I should hasten to point out that I’m not picking specifically on this passage, or this book. Every time I’ve thrown the declaration parade flag, it’s because I’ve picked up on this same trudgery. And today, this particular example has helped me to clarify my thinking on why they sound in my head the way they do, and what it is about the writing that causes it.

WTF #2: Echoing headwords

Analysis: Three paragraphs in a row echoing on “The,” two of which also have double sentence echoes within them. That’s a short burst of five or six sentences out of only seven or eight total, that all begin with the same word.

WTF #3: More declarative sentence parades

Analysis: As the narrator moves through corridors and rooms, seeing people and things, they seem to register on her in only the most superficial way. They are just there. A boy. A chair. A door. A doctor. I’m beginning to see that part of what I call the “trudging” of declarative sentences is this simple plodding stepping-stone progress from one passing object to the next. In the midst of such a passage of prose, even background actions can seem objectified, like they’ve been frozen into abstractions that do not penetrate the narrator’s consciousness in any fashion other than as a thing to be observed. And in that sense, they simply march on past the narrator as he or she moves through the story. Trudge, trudge, trudge.


Dark Space, by Jasper T. Scott (8:58)
Invasion of Privacy and other short stories, by Jim Liston (9:08)

About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is underqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.