Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sentence Diagramming: Identifying Compound, Complex, and Compound-Complex Sentences

An example sentence diagram for the compound sentence, "Cinderella cleaned the oven, and she dug the well.
In order to diagram a multi-clause sentence,
we must be able to identify each clause.
Understanding the difference between compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences requires an understanding of the parts of a sentence. Specifically, before we can analyze or diagram multi-clause sentences, we must be able to identify each of the clauses.

What is a Clause?

A clause is a group of words that has a subject and a verb.  There are two types of clauses, those that make a complete thought (independent clauses), and those that do not (dependent clauses).

Independent Clauses Make a Complete Thought

An independent clause makes a complete thought, and with the proper punctuation it can stand alone as a sentence.  Two or more independent clauses can be joined to create compound sentences.  Take a look at the following examples.  "S" stands for subject, and "V" stands for verb.

Independent clauses = [S + V + Complete Thought]

[Peter hunts the wolf].
[The ice cream is melting]. [Put it in the refrigerator]. (Understood "You")
[Jack climbed the beanstalk]; [he wishes he hadn’t].
[Cinderella cleaned the oven], and [she dug the well].

Dependent Clauses Do Not Make a Complete Thought

On the other hand, dependent clauses do not make a complete thought and cannot stand alone as sentences.  Dependent clauses often begin with pronominal adjectives, relative pronouns, or subordinating conjunctions.  As a matter of fact, another name for a dependent clause is subordinate clause.  Those dependent, or subordinate, clauses will behave like nouns, adjectives, or adverbs within a sentence.

A noun clause is a dependent clause that behaves like a noun.  A noun clause will begin with a subordinating conjunction or a relative pronoun.

An adverb clause is a dependent clause that behaves like an adverb, and modifies a verb, adjective, or another adverb.  An adverb clause usually begins with a subordinating conjunction or a relative pronoun.

An adjective clause is a dependent clause that modifies a noun or pronoun.  In an adjective clause, the relative pronoun or pronominal adjective might function within the clause as any other pronoun might: as a subject, object, or complement.

Here are more examples.  Again, "S" stands for subject, and "V" stands for verbIndependent clauses  are marked in green.

Dependent clauses =  [S + V – Complete Thought] + Independent Clause

[While Sleeping Beauty napped], the prince searched for her.
[Because it is cold outside], Cruella wears her Dalmatian stole.
[As Mother always says], it is better to be safe than sorry.
Hens should always be wary of the fox, [as Chanticleer knows].

What is a Phrase?

Do not confuse phrases for clauses.  A phrase is a group of words that does not have a subject or a verb or both.  A phrase usually acts like a single part of speech in a sentence, and a phrase could be part of a larger clause.  The phrases below are marked in purple.

Examples of Phrases

Prepositional phrase: On the ferry, Sam proposed to Linda.
Infinitive phrase: To run near the lake is her favorite activity.
Gerund phrase: Running near the lake is her favorite activity.
Appositive phrase: Gerald, her favorite student, gave her flowers.
Participle phrase: The spot reserved for running is beautiful.

Compound and Complex Sentences

When we label sentences as simple, compound, complex, or compound-complex, what we're describing is each sentence's clause structure.  In order to determine which type of sentence you're reading or writing, simply mark and label each clause.  Once you mark and label the clauses, you'll be able to determine the sentence type by using the following definitions.  Remember to mark the clauses,  not the phrases.

A simple sentence is made up of one independent clause.
A compound sentence is made up of more than one independent clause.
A complex sentence is made up of one independent and at least one dependent clause.
A compound-complex sentence is made up of more than one independent clause and at least one dependent clause.

A bright and colorful playground as the cover to Diagramming Sentences by Amy Lynn Hess

Want to learn more about diagramming sentences?  

Take my complete online course, "Sentence Diagramming: From Beginner to Expert in 12 Lessons" on Udemy, or purchase my text, Diagramming Sentences: A Playful Way to Analyze Everyday Language (affiliate link) on Amazon.

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess. Please contact the author for permission to republish.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Create a Poetry Chapbook

A collection of chapbooks from an array of writers.
A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks 

A poetry chapbook is the perfect way to collect a series of poems with satisfying artistic expression.  

You can keep these works of literary art as keepsakes, or you can give them to family and friends as personalized gifts.  Additionally, when you design your chapbooks to be easily reproduced, you can sell them or hand them out as marketing materials at poetry readings and events.

Whatever your purpose for creating your chapbook, there are three basic stages of chapbook planning and production: preproduction, production, and post-production.  All three phases of creation will include both artistic tasks and administrative tasks.



In the preproduction stage, you will make artistic choices about a budgeted finished product.

First, you must decide which of your poems you would like to collect as a series.  This requires that you make a decision about how each poem communicates or relates to the previous poem and the following poem, in order.  This decision can be made based on a common theme in the poems, the subjects of the poems, the chronology of the poems, your intended audience, or any other unifying factor.

Next, you get to decide how you want your finished chapbook to look.  Decide how you will bind your book, what length you’d like it to be, how the cover will look, and what size pages and types of materials you’ll use.  For example, you might want to bind your book using spiral binding, using brads, staples, sewing it by hand, or placing it in an origami box or brown paper lunch bag.  Your pages can be any shape or size, and your poems can be on pages together, or one per page.  Your poems can be handwritten, typed on a typewriter, created in a word processor, or spoken into an audio program.  You can decorate the pages by hand, with clip art, as scrapbook pages, or with artist’s colors.   You can print pages at a local print shop, on a home printer, at work when no one is looking, by creating digital images, or by typesetting.  Your options are limited only by your budget.  You can, however, find extremely creative ways to overcome budget restrictions.



During the production phase, you get to create and reproduce your drafts and final chapbook.

Once you have planned how you want your chapbook to look and how much you want it to cost, you can begin creating your chapbook.  Enjoy the creation process by taking what you have planned in your preproduction stage and making a mock version of your chapbook.  Investigate vendors, choices, and materials as you work to be sure you do not overextend your budget.  Make tweaks and changes to your plans as needed or required by your expectations of the project.

Most importantly, be sure your chapbook is exactly right before calling your chapbook finished.  This means you should not rush through the process.  Carefully, frequently, and thoroughly check your spelling, page numbers, titles, layout, and any front or back matter information.   If you duplicate print versions of your chapbook with an error, that error will be costly.



The post-production phase of the chapbook creation process includes marketing and distribution activities.

If your book is meant as a gift or keepsake, these decisions will be easy.  If you want to use your chapbook as a marketing tool or sales product, on the other hand, you have to decide where you will read your work, which events you are going to attend, where and how you will sell your product, and how much you will charge.  These decisions may require research and administrative patience.  For example, there are electronic or web sales options to consider, which may or may not require official copyright or ISBN’s.

Whatever decisions you make before, during, or after production of your chapbook, just keep in mind that the most important part of the process is your enjoyment of the act of creating and the satisfaction that comes with producing a chapbook of your own work.

Want to know more?

Learn how to publish your own poetry chapbook.
Would you like to take a complete online course about how to publish your own poetry chapbook? 

Use my coupon code link "Blog" to sign up for a Udemy account and take my course for $15.00 off the regular price!

Want to read more about poetry or publishing?  

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess.  Contact the author for permission to reuse.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Production Dramaturgy: What's a Dramaturg Do?

A red stage curtain drapes over an empty stage where it's written, "Insert Dramaturg."
What does a dramaturg do?

A production dramaturg is a consultant and an advocate for the playwright's intentions. But what does a dramaturg do?

According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, the definition of dramaturgy is "The art of the theater, especially the writing of plays."

That's a very simplistic definition for a very broad term, and it sounds an awful lot like what a playwright does. No wonder the term, thereby the purpose and function, is misunderstood by theatre professionals all over the world. "What in the world does a dramaturg do?" they ask. "Why should we hire one?" Saying that a dramaturg "does dramaturgy" or "the art of the theatre" is more than just a little vague.  It's a lot vague.


So What Does a Dramaturg Do?

Dramaturgs can be hired by theatres or directors as freelance production dramaturgs. They can be hired by theatres as literary managers, outreach coordinators, education supervisors and artistic directors. Playwrights can hire dramaturgs to act as script consultants and editors. Dramaturgy can be general and academic, the study of theatre history, or dramaturgy can be related to a specific production. Dramaturgy related to a specific production of a play, either new or old, is called production dramaturgy.


What are the Skills a Production Dramaturg Should Have?

Production dramaturgy seems to be the most cryptic function a dramaturg performs. The job description of a production dramaturg can be defined as follows: A production dramaturg is a consultant and an advocate for the playwright's intentions. His or her skill set should include
  • Historical and cultural knowledge
  • Efficient research and writing skills
  • Patient and objective observation skills
  • Playwriting experience
  • Structural analysis skills
  • Assertive and tactful communication skills
  • An ability to work in collaboration with others


What Does a Production Dramaturg Do?

There is no step-by-step method that all dramaturgs use, just as there is no step-by-step method that all actors or designers use. There are only abilities, expectations, and understandings. Dramaturgs do their best to give production teams the information they need while not becoming exhaustive with too much information or too many observations. The key is to know the script and to analyze what the audience will need to know, or will need to be told through production choices, in order to fully appreciate the work of the playwright and production team.

Basic information dramaturgs should gather varies depending on the play and the requests of the director. However, a step-by-step method always begins by looking something like the following two lists.

A Dramaturg's Pre-Rehearsal Tasks

  • Make a vocabulary list and define any ambiguous phrases or allusions.
  • Find character name meanings and research historical or real people.
  • Read reviews and pertinent criticism and theory of previous performances.
  • When possible and appropriate, communicate with the playwright.
  • Put together a timeline of important events related to the setting of the play.
  • Put together a timeline of important events related to the period when the play was written.
  • Make a list of images and complete an appropriate structural analysis.
  • Make translations.
  • Write or find an appropriate playwright biography.
  • Find sensory media, artifacts or objects that help define the world of the play.
  • Prepare packets of information, online reference pages, and a presentation for the cast and crew.
  • Be prepared to answer any and all questions.


A Dramaturg's Rehearsal and Production Tasks

  • Sit near the director to answer and ask questions.
  • Observe character and "world of play" consistency.
  • Write and revise program notes.
  • Plan lobby displays.
  • Prepare audience outreach information or handouts.
  • Take notes.
  • Plan and execute talkback sessions.
  • Be prepared to answer any and all questions.

Again, not all dramaturgs work this way. More may be asked of the dramaturg by the cast and crew per production, and less may be needed. A dramaturg must always consider the needs of the specific cast, crew, director, theatre, or audience for each and every production and dramaturgical task.

Did you find this essay helpful?  Do you have additional questions?  Please feel free to leave a comment or question.  I like them.

Want to read more about theatre?  Try 
Ancient Greek Theatre: Origins of the Term Deus Ex Machina.

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess.  Please contact for permission to reuse.