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  1. Jacq Despot
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    Jacq Despot Member

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    Style is this change of tense ok?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Jacq Despot, Jul 15, 2014.

    So, I'm writing something in first person and using present-tense. It has caused me to face quite a few pickles.

    I'm wondering whether the following is correct and not confusing:

    "...I look at the stone and pick it up. It makes me remember the events of yesterday. I was sitting on a bench, staring at the ducks in the lake when an old lady came along. She told me I looked handsome and started groping me. The recollection makes me smile. I feel the stone with my hands and throw it into the lake wistfully..."

    I'm also wondering whether to use "I was sitting"? Would "I had been sitting" be better?

    I've read somewhere that a change in tense requires a new paragraph, is there any truth to this? Is this better:

    "...I look at the stone and pick it up. It makes me remember the events of yesterday.

    I was sitting on a bench, staring at the ducks in the lake when an old lady came along. She told me I looked handsome and started groping me.

    The recollection makes me smile. I feel the stone with my hands and throw it into the lake wistfully..."
     
  2. Jacq Despot
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    Jacq Despot Member

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    This should probably have been posted in the mechanics sub-forum. sorry about that.
     
  3. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    The original paragraph is perfect.

    Use past progressive ("was sitting") instead of past perfect progressive ("had been sitting"). The past progressive is the right tense to use to refer to an action (sitting on a bench) that is interrupted by a past-tense action (an old lady came along). Past perfect progressive refers to an ongoing action that is already completed before the frame of reference that the past tense refers to. E.g. you might say, "the day before yesterday, I had been sitting on a bench. Yesterday, I was sitting on the bench again."

    I only think it is important to begin a new paragraph for a different tense when a significant part of the story is told in the different tense (e.g. a multi-scene flashback), not just a couple sentences.
     
  4. Jacq Despot
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    Jacq Despot Member

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    Much obliged, daemon!
     

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