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Old 09-01-2008, 03:14 PM
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Default Tense


Tense Changes

Chose a tense and stick to it. Tense changes within a story, and sometimes within sentences themselves, are not only grammatically incorrect, they will jar the reader.

To write in the narrative I'm at the fair and I was going to buy one thousand balloons (provided that this is the end of the sentence) throws off the syntax, with I am in present tense and I was in past tense. Change one or the other to correct this: I'm at the fair and I'm going to buy one thousand balloons or I was at the fair and I was going to buy one thousand balloons.

Flashbacks are an exception. These represent a sequence of events that happen prior to the goings-on of the main story. But even then, these need to be constructed properly: past tense for a present tense story, past participle for a past tense story.

Keep in mind that the tense within a flashback may change. A past participle/past/past participle or past/present/past construction of a flashback, properly done, will lead the reader into and out of a prior event smoothly.

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