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    • Join Date: Dec 2009
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    #1

    Help with tenses

    I'm going through and editing a piece of fiction I've written when I noticed I've sometimes changed from past tense to present. An example:
    Keith squealed louder as he barreled into Luke's legs and his fathers strong arms wrapped around him, stopping him from escaping. His fathers arms don't deter the small boy as he attempts in vain to push Luke away and run in the other direction. She laughs as Luke pulls the giggling boy into his arms, who is still struggling to get away.

    I changed the paragraph to all past tense when I realized my mistake. It now reads:
    Keith squealed louder as he barreled into Luke's legs and his fathers strong arms wrapped around him, stopping him from escaping. His fathers arms didn't deter the small boy as he attempted in vain to push Luke away and run in the other direction. She laughed as Luke pulled a giggling Keith into his arms, who was still struggling to get away.

    I believe the second paragraph is how it should be correctly displayed, and it sounds better to me, but a friend who is helping me said she like the first paragraph better. The majority of the text is in past tense so that is probably what I'll stick to. Grammar also isn't my strong point, so I'm not sure if the grammar correct or not.

    Something else I've noticed with some dialogue:
    He looks at her and asks, "Are you okay?"
    "I'm fine," she replied.

    If I'm keeping the story in past tense should it read:
    He looked at her and asked, "Are you okay?"
    "I'm fine," she replied.

    Any help is appreciated.

  1. 1984law's Avatar
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    • Join Date: Aug 2009
    • Posts: 104
    #2

    Lightbulb Re: Help with tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by skittlebox View Post
    I'm going through and editing a piece of fiction I've written when I noticed I've sometimes changed from past tense to present. An example:
    Keith squealed louder as he barreled into Luke's legs and his fathers strong arms wrapped around him, stopping him from escaping. His fathers arms don't deter the small boy as he attempts in vain to push Luke away and run in the other direction. She laughs as Luke pulls the giggling boy into his arms, who is still struggling to get away.

    I changed the paragraph to all past tense when I realized my mistake. It now reads:
    Keith squealed louder as he barreled into Luke's legs and his fathers strong arms wrapped around him, stopping him from escaping. His fathers arms didn't deter the small boy as he attempted in vain to push Luke away and run in the other direction. She laughed as Luke pulled a giggling Keith into his arms, who was still struggling to get away.

    I believe the second paragraph is how it should be correctly displayed, and it sounds better to me, but a friend who is helping me said she like the first paragraph better. The majority of the text is in past tense so that is probably what I'll stick to. Grammar also isn't my strong point, so I'm not sure if the grammar correct or not.

    Something else I've noticed with some dialogue:
    He looks at her and asks, "Are you okay?"
    "I'm fine," she replied.

    If I'm keeping the story in past tense should it read:
    He looked at her and asked, "Are you okay?"
    "I'm fine," she replied.

    Any help is appreciated.

    Hi,
    I my opinion your first attempt is not exactly incorrect. Your problem was that you used the present tense to describe something that took place in the past. Sometimes we do use the present for past situations.It makes the narrative more vivid, as if it took place now. So what I am saying is , that sometimes one can bend grammar rules to make a text more interesting to the reader.
    Hope I have been of assistance

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