1. Luna13
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    Luna13 Active Member

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    confused about the tense

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Luna13, Jun 25, 2012.

    Aaron had overheard many angry conversations between the two, often going something along the lines of:

    Mrs. Hester, pulling the plates out of the dishwasher and stacking them neatly in the cupboard: “Dad, I hate being back here. You know that. You know that I spent every moment of my childhood waiting to get out of this place.”

    Grandfather Anderson, standing motionless by the table: “I know, Liana, but I only want what’s best for both you and Aaron.” His voice was much warmer and softer than usual.

    Mrs. Hester, pulling a glass out of the dishwasher with shaking hands: “Don’t give me any of that “I only want what’s best” crap. Being back in this awful house is definitely not the best for me. You know that, Dad. You know that.”

    Grandfather Anderson, taking the glass from her and putting it carefully away: “I know it’s not ideal, Liana, but you must admit that it is better than being homeless, which was your only other option.” The usual rigidity had crept back into his voice. “And for Aaron? If you didn’t move in here, he would have had to drop out of school.”

    Here Mrs. Hester completely lost it. “And perhaps that would have been better! Do you know..."



    In this excerpt, I was unsure about the tense of the bolded bits. I am writing in the past tense, but when I was writing this part, I found myself consistently going to present tense in the bolded bits. I wrote "His voice is..." "the usual rigidity has..." and "...completely loses it" rather than using the words "was," "had," and "lost," although I went back and changed it.

    I know that the tense should be consistent, but the present tense sounded much more natural in this part. Is that right, or is it just me?
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    The bolded parts are correct as you've written them, in past tense.
     
  3. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    Right on the money. Sometimes what is right doesn't always seem like it, but usually is. Gotta love the English language...:D

    - Darkkin.
     
  4. Estrade
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    I think you should keep it consistent.

    Aaron had overheard many angry conversations between the two, often going something along the lines of:

    Mrs. Hester, pulling the plates out of the dishwasher and stacking them neatly in the cupboard: “Dad, I hate being back here. You know that. You know that I spent every moment of my childhood waiting to get out of this place.”

    Grandfather Anderson, standing motionless by the table: “I know, Liana, but I only want what’s best for both you and Aaron.” His voice [] much warmer and softer than usual.

    Mrs. Hester, pulling a glass out of the dishwasher with shaking hands: “Don’t give me any of that “I only want what’s best” crap. Being back in this awful house is definitely not the best for me. You know that, Dad. You know that.”

    Grandfather Anderson, taking the glass from her and putting it carefully away: “I know it’s not ideal, Liana, but you must admit that it is better than being homeless, which was your only other option.” The usual rigidity creeping back into his voice. “And for Aaron? If you didn’t move in here, he would have had to drop out of school.”

    Here Mrs. Hester completely loses it. “And perhaps that would have been better! Do you know..."


    (Actually, with that last one, consider Here, Mrs Hester would completely lose it )
     
  5. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    I think that line is in need of a 'was'. Without it, it sounds weird. It sounds like a sentence that would come after a comma.

    That's present tense...

    To be honest, the OP was already consistent to begin with. So they don't really need to change anything.
     
  6. Estrade
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    I'm just carrying it on from:

    Grandfather Anderson, standing motionless by the table:

    It seems better, to me, to continue with:

    His voice much warmer and softer than usual.

    And yeah, Mrs Heston completely loses it is present tense, because as the OP stated, they feel that they go into present tense in these sections. It's not actually technically present tense in the original, though, because the words that define the tense are omitted, and that's the reason there's a question mark over it.

    Grandfather Anderson, standing motionless by the table: is, in effect, without tense, because the word "was or "is" or "had been" is omitted. (and that's why I suggested continuing to omit that.)

    In this sentence

    Here Mrs. Hester completely lost it.

    the tense is there, thus causing a problem, because the tense has to be chosen. I chose past tense at first but I changed my mind. It depends on how the scene progresses.
     

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