Tags:
  1. AlessaSTARS

    AlessaSTARS New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2018
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    1

    Does Past Tense sometimes call for present tense?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by AlessaSTARS, Nov 29, 2018.

    After years of research, setting evaluation, character development, plot planning, and then ironing out the glitches I have finally begun writing my first novel that I plan to self publish. I have put so much work into it as I believe it needs to be perfect so here I am admitting I am truly stuck on this issue. I am writing the novel in past tense or so I thought until I realized i'm switching around but it just seems logical so I need some opinions on if this makes sense or if I need to rethink these sentences somehow.
    EXAMPLE:
    “You are going and I am not taking no for an answer,” My sister shouted from her room, “Now get in here!”
    I walked over to her doorway before replying, “Do I have to? I would rather just watch a movie and relax.”

    Now as you can see the first sentence is past tense as I want it because that's what's more comfortable to me, but to me changing the second sentence just sounds weird, but i'm wondering if that's just me and If I should be fixing these errors....

    I walked over to her doorway before I replied, "Do I have to? I would rather just watch a movie and relax."

    Is the second sentence the way I should be wording these once in a while present tense sentences I run into which are always structured like this having to do with an action before dialogue.
     
  2. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2017
    Messages:
    1,034
    Likes Received:
    2,101
    Your original line is correct and your fix is too.

    In your fix, you turned the line into an independent+dependent clause. Notice that you added a subject to make that work. ("before _I_ replied"). That's all well and good, but it does sound awkward. Just because it's grammatical doesn't mean it's worth writing, and you were right to pick up on that. Note: there were other options.
    • I walked over to her doorway before I replied. "Do I have to? . . ."
      This is a pure action beat instead of a dialog tag, and now breaks up the long line by dropping the comma.
    • I walked over to her doorway. "Do I have to? . . ."
      Same as above, but since the basic purpose of attribution is to tell who's speaking, you're already done when you said: "I walked." So you don't have to add: "I replied."
    Your original line only has one tense. "Walked" --> past tense. "Replying" is a participle, and participles have no tense. Yeah, it's called a present participle, but it's tenseless. You have to add helping verbs to it to give it tense. (was replying, will be replying, am replying, etc.) Since you don't have any helping verbs, it's not part of a verb phrase.

    There is one other option that's similar to the above. Because you have this huge idea modifying "walk," it might be better to break that up so that the dialog is separate. That makes what's spoken more important.
    What you're doing in the original line is attaching a huge participle phrase to "before." That whole phrase is then acting as an adverb. "Before replying blah blah blah . . ." is doing a time qualification on "walked." Prepositional phrases usually act like adjectives, but they can do the job of adverbs too.
    • I walked over to her doorway before replying. "Do I have to? . . ."
      Another full stop added.
    That's optional.

    And this might have just been an example line anyway, I know. So it's on a case by case basis, whatever you do. Sometimes there's a single answer, but there isn't one here. A lot of your lines might be fine as is because your original line is an okay structure to use, even in past tense.

    I feel like I dodged the actual question by addressing the line as it was . . . You were almost asking a question bigger than what you needed. But I'll add here: tenses do change in a paragraph. But they change for a reason and return to a basis.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2018
  3. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    15,342
    Likes Received:
    13,069
    Your concern is the word "replying"? That's not present tense. It's...uh...I think it's past continuous tense? The word "replying" could also be used in present continuous tense, which may be what's causing the confusion.

    I was replying to Joe when the phone rang.
    I am replying to Joe, when the phone rings.
     
  4. AlessaSTARS

    AlessaSTARS New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2018
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    1
    I have never heard terms such as past continuous tense or present participle.....my mind is reeling. I didn't know as much as I thought I did haha
     
  5. AlessaSTARS

    AlessaSTARS New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2018
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    1
    I got it now I looked into both of the terms and have come to the conclusion that this is a present participle because the sentence is structured as verb(walked) + object (doorway) + present participle (replying). Thank you so much for helping me with this I feel like I just gained an important skill in my writing so I am not always stuck in the present tense. I feel like this option gives my writing more dynamic.
     
    Seven Crowns likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice