Archive for November, 2014

Nonrestrictive Relative Clauses

Strunkianism #3

Our four calendars, two e-types and two not so much, warned us of the approach of Thanksgiving, which equates to relatives. The numbers are increasing. Their nonrestrictive numbers are spread unevenly throughout the four day festivities. The thoughts of a restrictive author schedule, yet again imposed on my writing world, sends my characters, Trevor and Catherine of Gray Lace, into “having a fit and falling in it”, as my mother used to say.

Revising Chapter 13 of Gray Lace, with the appearance of Trevor’s younger brothers, was fun to read. Oh, it was, as usual, full of missing grammatical marks, if anything can be full of missing anything. The pages had room for vocabulary improvements, but still fun. However, Chapter 14 was riddled with deadly head-hopping and Catherine could not make up her mind about Trevor’s exuberant and nonrestrictive relatives.


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Last week posted her (mine) first Strunkianism. The next will be soon, but the commanding-for-attention Comma, that tiny worm-like pill bug, has caused yet another dinner party discussion to become interestingly heated. After summarizing Gray Lace and this blog, to the table of eight, the gentleman to my right defended Commas everywhere, except in front of “and” in a list of three or more. The guest to my right insisted Commas are dinosaurs who stupidly had survived the ice age.

Trying to include everyone in the discussion, as my mother taught, I introduced Trevor and Catherine, as my heroes in Gray Lace, and their adventures in “parenthetictism”. William Strunk, Jr. defined parenthetic as an interruption to the flow of a sentence. He allowed the writer powers to decide when and where, as witnessed above with my pill bugs. He even released writers to create howevers and therefores around said pill bugs at their digression. Such powers are above and beyond the three branches of government!

“But whether the interruption is slight or considerable, he must never omit one comma and leave the other. There is no defense for such punctuation.”  Example: Trevor’s nationality, British attracted many Bostonian debutants.    Ahhh…no defense indeed! I’ll forgive Professor Strunk for assuming all writers are male and warn you, my adorable readers, that next time I’ll tackle the elusive nonrestrictive relative clause. Relatives, just in time for Thanksgiving.


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I wish I could say I remember William Strunk, Jr. I wish I could say I took his English courses while I was a student at Cornell. I wish I had met him at the close of World War I. I wish I could say those things, but I would be lying.

I wish I had studied his publication The Elements of Style when I roamed hallowed halls of higher learning, but then my editor would be out of a job. However, it’s never too late. That’s a quote from…my mother? Anyway, allow me to journey into how my fourth novel, Gray Lace, benefited from Strunkian studies. I did buy Strunk’s tiny blue book many years ago and now, finally, I truly appreciate it.

Elementary Rules of Usage: #1

Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding ‘s. Strunk lists exceptions and common errors. This proves he would have understood me. “Trevor’s eyes grew larger as Ross’s temper spit out, “It’s a wise rooster who protects its own hen.” (chapter 5).

Rule #2

In a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term except the last.

“Never once had he been cross, upset, or heaven forbid, violent.”

There’s more. The plan is to announce them as I make mistakes.


“Never once had he been cross, upset,

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