1. Bongo Mongo
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    Bongo Mongo Member

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    Switching between 2nd and 3rd tense: Ok to do?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Bongo Mongo, Dec 2, 2009.

    My story is written in third person, and it involves some digressions to explain something better or give more insight to the story. Here is a small excerpt from my story:

    [3rd tense] It is much harder to catch a Demon than Ossa first assumed.[2nd tense] You must first apply a translucent liquid to the base in the shape of a perfect circle.

    Would this work, or am I changing tenses too fast, or should I not change tenses at all?
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    You could rewrite the second sentence as, "One must first apply..." or, "He/She must first apply..."
     
  3. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    You're not changing tenses, although that's not the right term for what you are talking about (its second- and third-person, as opposed to past or present tense). And you're not changing anything at all. The only thing that changes is that the subject is no longer the character that was being narrated. I suppose technically its written in second-person, but it isn't problematic or distracting at all. People talk like that all the time, and overall the piece remains in third person.
     
  4. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    I don't think there is anything wrong with this, either.
     
  5. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Looks fine, except "demon" would be lowercase.
     
  6. DragonGrim
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    DragonGrim Contributing Member

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    Thirdwind had there with “one.” Traditionally, a third-person narrative uses “one” in place of “you.”
     
  7. deltaquid
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    deltaquid Member

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    Yes, you should only be used when giving instructions to someone.

    For example: "Can we kill the demon?" "Yes, but you have to coat the bullet in silver first."

    Compared to: "Can we kill the demon?" I remembered from class that one could kill a demon if they had coated their bullet in silver. I replied: "Depends. Do you have any silver around here?"
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Don't confuse the narrative tense with the tenses in individual sentences. Individual sentences WILL containg different tenses, but the narrative tense shouldn't bounce around. You have to consider the context of each sentence to decide whether you are breaking the narrative tense.

    What's Your Point (of View)? talks a little about this.
     
  9. In Antarctica
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    In Antarctica Banned

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    Also consider the diction you're aiming for. As someone already mentioned, regular conversation for us includes lots of senseless and grammatically questionable tense/subject shifts. You need to decide what's plausible for your character. As long as it isn't jarring and is consistent with the narrative voice you're aiming for, you can pretty much do what you want.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's no problem with tenses here, cog, though of course you're right...

    the op has confused tense with person/pov and is only concerned about changing pov in the sentence, not tenses...

    bongo...
    you do need to change 'you' to 'one' for that sentence to make sense in re the one it follows... however, you don't need either one, if you reword that sentence to something like this:

     

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