1. Frederyk
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    Frederyk New Member

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    Tenses

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Frederyk, Mar 8, 2010.

    When writing a story, would changing the tenses of past and present with the changing of characters be too confusing, or would it seem acceptable? Example, the present tense would be used for a character that was always in the action, then the chapter changes, and with the new chapter, a character with a slower role is depicted in last tense.

    -Frederyk
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. Switching narrative tense in that manner is generally an awful idea.
     
  3. BBWalter
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    BBWalter Member

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    I have to agree with Cogito here. Almost every time I pick up a story (published or unpublished looking for review/critique) and the author suddenly switches tense...I usually get so frustrated that I have to put the story back down. It's one of my largest pet peeves so much that I nitpick my own documents to make sure the tenses are correct.

    However, that being said, if you can figure out how to pull of switching tenses without being infuriating...more power to you! :)

    Best of luck and break a pen.
    BB
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yuck!

    clearly, i agree with cog on the issue... ;-)
     
  5. da_ardvark
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    da_ardvark Member

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    Not to pick nits, but your answer of "Yes" was confusing. You cleared up the confusion with the sentence that followed, rendering the initial answer superfluous.

    Love Denny
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    being an unrepentant and inveterate virgo nit-picker, i'd say more 'emphatic' or 'confirmatory'... ;-)
     
  7. Fallen
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    Hi, Fred, nice to meet you.

    I know there are authors that change pov from chapter to chapter (1st to 3rd etc), and a mix of tense occurs (e.g. 1st would use present, 3rd, past). But to just signify a change of tenses in pov (e.g. 3rd from past to present) I'm not sure: usually you combine a number of techniques to get your point across (tense and pov).

    If it's action you want to use to portray character, you could look more at your verbs. In H.G. Wells' 'War Of The Worlds', he portrayed his main character as 'sitting', 'watching' as the martians 'rushed, hammered banged'. That was all done in one tense and very subtily.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Don't mistake the narrative tense with the tense of individual verbs. The narrative tense refers to the story time relative to the narrator's point of view, whereas individual verb tenses can vary without the nerrative tense wavering an iota.
     
  9. Fallen
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    Huh?

    Fred was on about using narrative tense to portray an active/static character. I suggested leaving the tense alone and using active/non-active verbs to portray character (I mentioned nothing about the tense of the verb, just active (bandged, hammered) against restricted movement (sitting etc)).
     

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