How to Schematize Sentences

A schematized sentence is one that has been broken apart at its joints and then arranged with the most general part of the sentnce-- its main clause--alligned to the left and the free modifiers that modify it and each other arranged in an indented pattern.

There are three types of schematized patterns that emerge from this process:

A parallel sequence contains a sequence of the same free modifiers, all modifying the main clause of the sentence.

unschematized parallel-sequence sentence:

He sat and watched as the train slowly went past--the large boxcars tilting back and forth, the flatbed carrying semi-trucks piggyback, the rails binding beneath the weight of the train, the wheels endlessly spinning around until, just a short while after eternity, the caboose wandered by.
schematized parallel sequence

Notice that all of the absolutes in the parallel sequence modify the main clause.

A subordinate sequence consists of several free modifiers, each modifying the free modifier that precedes it.

unschematized subordinate-sequence sentence

When the train sounded its horns, a mournful cord, reminding me of endless wastes in the Nebraska Sandhills, in which I spent many days during my youth, now memory-colored with a golden hew, I thought of the tragic death of Jason, who, only last week, had attempted to beat the train as he crossed the tracks downtown.
schematized subordinate sequence

Notice that each free modifier modifies the preceding structure and that the structure of the free modifiers changes with the level of subordination.

A mixed-sequence sentence contains both parallel and subordinate sequences. This is probably the most common pattern of complex sentences.

unschematized mixed-sequence sentence

In the early evening, as the sun went down, shining its brilliant colors through the sky, he stood transfixed, watching the playful ponies in the pasture, listening to the sounds of chirping crickets and the nocturnal world of insects and animals coming to life, and realizing with awe that the complex workings of nature made him feel insignificant.
schematized mixed-sequence Notice that the sequence before the main clause, in this particular case, is a subordinate sequence, whereas the sequence after the main clause is parallel.

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