In the past three days, we’ve seen pathos, simplicity, soft sounds, euphony, hard sounds, cacophony, and connotation in Cody Klippenstein’s award-winning story, “Case Studies in Ascension.” Today, we’ll see another technique she makes use of that puts the reader THERE in the moment, visualizing what’s happening in the story. Here’s the example, first:
I trail after him through the rooms, speaking when he turns and appeals to me. Here, the kitchen, which he has already seen; here, a bathroom, with a small patch of bald concrete by the sink, where I once pried loose a stone, thinking it looked so much like a jewel; here, the study, with its antique desk and shelves of books—a pool table, too, for my father, though its green felt has long since been buried in a thick layer of dust.
The second sentence in that passage is sixty-nine words long. So much for short and simple. But what is she doing with that sentence? She’s taking us on a tour of the home, and in doing so, shows us not only the furniture and fixtures, but also a bit about herself and her father (and that a room her father used to use has not been touched since his disappearance likely). There’s a nice rule of 3 echo in there as well (Here . . . here. . . here. . . ), which really makes readers feel like they’re walking through the home themselves.
Longer sentences can slow the pace down so the reader notices the details. She pried a stone loose because it seemed to be a jewel to her, and stones are indeed important to her family as we learn throughout the rest of the story. Her father’s room was left alone, showing the respect all had for him; he did not leave due to dishonour of any fashion. There is an antique desk and books—a respect for the past and for knowledge, for education. And the bald patch by the sink has been left alone too, making the reader wonder why. And thinking about things like these takes time, and a long sentence slows the pace just enough for us to get a head start on it.
Give a one-sentence description of at least two rooms in your own home where you spend the most time. Make it at least fifty words long, and through that description, show your readers a piece of your personality.
Coming tomorrow: Our final day with CK–Cody Klippenstein #005: Personification in “Case Studies in Ascension.”