1. The Backward OX
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    The Backward OX Senior Member

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    I'm all tense about tense.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by The Backward OX, Sep 23, 2009.

    I'm playing about with a little piece of nonsense that I thought I'd write in the first person, present tense, with the intention of subbing it to the local rag.

    But here and there I see what I perceive as a need to change present tense to past tense.

    One such example is changing "For some days I have been attempting to purchase a new phone" to "For some days I had been attempting to purchase a new phone."

    But then, two sentences further on - after a sentence that simply describes the phone - I want to revert to the present tense, with "Why don’t I move into the 21st Century, do I hear you ask? Simple, really: old farts like me become confused . . ."

    Is it ok to do things like this?
     
  2. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    This isn't a tense issue, as far as I can tell. . . But the meanings are slightly different.

    The first sentence suggests that you've been trying to purchase a new phone, and you presumably still are. . The second sentence states that you had been trying to purchase a new phone, which implies that, whether you found one or not, you are no longer trying to do so.

    It's a question of what exactly you are trying to say. If the matter is resolved, go with the second sentence. If you're still looking for a phone, go with the first one.

    In a present tense story, there's nothing wrong with explaining a past event.
     
  3. afinemess
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    afinemess Active Member

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    For some days I had been attempting to purchase a new phone. Why can't I move into the 21st Century, you ask? Simple, really: old farts like me become confused . . .

    I think that sounds okay and you wouldnt have to worry about tense, as an example, but I could be wrong. That's what I would have edited it too if I were writing.
     
  4. The Backward OX
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    The Backward OX Senior Member

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    Hey, why couldn't I see that? It makes one seem such a klutz when someone else points it out. "Still trying" is what I need. Thanks.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The tense within each sentence or clause is not necessarily the same as the tense associated with the narrative voice.

    The narrative voice is (third person) past tense, but the verbs vary from past and past perfect to present and future tense. Nevertheless, the past tense narrative voice is not compromised.
     
  6. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    No problem.

    I get hung up on similar questions all the time. I've learned that it's generally best not to over-think the issue; your instincts are probably correct.:)
     
  7. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    In my experience, people have strong negative opinion with first person and present tense.
     
  8. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    Dcoin, does this suggest a serious work in progress with publication in mind?

    Serious practice, on the other hand, can occur in any and all forms. . . Experimentation is good. More power to him.
     
  9. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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  10. The Backward OX
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    The Backward OX Senior Member

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    Update

    I'm still working on it. Someone elsewhere has told me to save myself a lot of aggro and write it in past; so just to annoy him I'm determined to see if I can do it my way, successfully. It may take a few days, but when I'm satisfied, I may put it up for crit.
     
  11. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    Lol. Well, after reading through some of your threads, I'd really like to see your work.:)
     

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