1. Blueshift
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    Blueshift Member

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    Help required with tenses.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Blueshift, Jun 3, 2014.

    Hello everyone, I've just signed up to this site and hope I can add to the community in the future!

    With that being said: I'm stuck! I'm having trouble with tenses. Often I will write something, only to wonder if it makes sense or wonder if I should change it. Sometimes I change it, only for it to feel flat.

    If anyone can educate me on what I'm doing wrong, I would be very appreciative!

    Two examples from an early chapter:

    -- "Ben half-invaded the cotton/polyster stronghold, his paws seemingly trying to steal the thin bed sheet flooring from its unbathed oppressor, to liberate it."

    -- "He waited for a certain configuration of light that would never come. Cold fingertips saw him clench his fists, so the circulating bloodflow would provide them with a semblance of heat. His palms held a lukewarm sun; envious knuckles now took the hit."

    I've italicised the areas where I'm a little confused. This is likely a basic point yet I seem to have missed it entirely until now.
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that you may need to explain your confusion. I'm not seeing a problem.
     
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  3. KirstyJayne
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    KirstyJayne New Member

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    Now I'm confused, haha! I can't see a problem either.
     
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  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    neither can i...

    that is, other than the sentences being a bit wordy and overly convoluted, plus somewhat lilac-ish, apparently making their way toward purple... ;)
     
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  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    From what I gather, in the first example, he's confused because he's using the past tense of the verb (-ed), the participle (-ing), and also the infinitive (to + (verb)). He wants to know if it's right to do that. It is.

    In the second case, he's using past tense and also the word "now," which is a word you tend to associate with the present. But it can be used when writing in past tense.

    Hope I gave the answers you were looking for.
     
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  6. Blueshift
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    Blueshift Member

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    Thank you for the replies everyone. Thirdwind that is it exactly. It was something I didn't consider until I'd finished a story. Then a vague memory of a teacher saying not to mix tenses jumped in my head as I read it back.

    mammamia: I agree I'm trying just now to cut down on a lot of descriptive areas and add more speech. My natural inclination is to be descriptive, but at times I go overboard!
     
  7. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    It sounds like you need to review tenses. That should clear up any misunderstandings.
     
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  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    It's complex to use a present participle as an adverb modifying a present participle.

    Also, "half" is a filter word. You can use them (as I've been reminded, ;)) but be aware of how they function. You may choose not to use it. "Ben invaded the cotton-polyester* stronghold ..." is a stronger sentence.

    * You misspelled 'polyester' and I believe a hyphen is better than a backslash there. A backslash says 'either/or', while a hyphen would make the word an adjective meaning mixed fiber.


    I also think "waited", past tense, is mixed there with, "knuckles now", present tense. Technically it should be "knuckles then".

    I'm not expert enough to say that is incorrect grammar, but it does shift tenses.

    *Blood flow is two words.

    I like your writing, by the way, and welcome to the forum. :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2014
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  9. Blueshift
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    Blueshift Member

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    Thank you for making me think about a few areas there. I will change that backslash to a hyphen, and correct the spelling. On the second example I've decided just to drop the 'now'.

    I have been typing without an auto-correct, which is awful (I didn't intend to type so much with no auto-correct) but I will run it through one or two later. Not having one makes me feel a bit more old school like I'm writing on paper. An odd quirk!
     
  10. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I think it reads better without the 'now'.
     
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  11. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Using "now" in the past tense is perfectly acceptable. It means that you're referring to something that is happening at a certain point in a series of events. In fact, here's an example from the Bible, John 6:17:

    "It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them."
     
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  12. Blueshift
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    Blueshift Member

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    That's great to know thirdwind! This thread has made me feel much better in terms of tenses. Phew.

    Thank you, to everyone.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you should not rely on any autocorrect program, as they're often not as 'correct' as you assume they'd be and even if something is grammatically correct, that doesn't mean it's 'good writing'... if you want to succeed as a writer, you need to rely on your own knowledge of grammar and be able to tell good writing from not-so-good and just plain bad...
     

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