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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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Friday, October 14

ES3, the Appositive

The appositive is a really useful tool for inserting information about a noun. It doesn’t complicate the sentence except when it gets extended with modifying elements. One simply tucks identifying stuff inside enclosing commas, placing it most often right after the noun it’s describing. Anywhere a noun appears in your sentence, you could insert an appositive. And we use nouns all over the place. In my system, I identify appositives by putting them in parentheses, the same as with understood words and phrases. Some examples:

Number 5 is an example of a front position appositive. Writers use it now and then as a kind of buildup of tension or suspense, not telling readers who or what it's pointing to until they get to the subject.

Sometimes, if you insert a really long appositive, as with a series, one or more of the items in the series using commas, you can no longer use commas to set off the series of appositives. If they come somewhere in the middle of the sentence, you can use paired dashes instead of commas, and then use semi-colons instead of commas on the interior. For example, "Several television series--The Mentalist, with the many Red John twists; The Good Wife, with all those sleazy lawyer shenanigans; NCIS, with way too many overlapping conflicts; and CSI, with yet another new head of the unit (Ted Danson)--seem to be staying afloat among a seaful of ships sinking in mediocrity." If they come at the end of the sentence, you can introduce them with a colon. For example, "Three important film stars came out in favor of the judicial proposal: Barbra Streisand, who supported Clinton; Marty Sheen, who supports any Democrat in office; and Clint Eastwood, who should know better than to support anyone Streisand and Sheen support."

I'll show you some more aspects of the appositive after you see the noun s-v-o. Can't wait, can you.

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