“Do I Need All Those Hads?” – Past Perfect Tense

past perfect tense pocket-watch-598039_960_720I admit it: when I see certain things in a book, it sets my teeth on edge. One thing that sets me off is abuse of the past perfect tense.

What’s past perfect tense, you ask? Let me explain.

Let’s say you sent the following two sentences to your editor:

Vivian never saw a skyscraper before she visited New York. So by the end of her first day in Manhattan, her neck ached because she was spending so much time looking up.

And she kicked them back to you with the following edits: Continue reading ““Do I Need All Those Hads?” – Past Perfect Tense”

It Was Tense: Past Progressive Verbs

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So she put her elbow on the bar from across the room?

Do you ever notice verb tenses that seem to conflict in the same sentence? Every now and then, I’ll run into sentences like these:

Walking into the room, she leaned one elbow on the bar.

Looking at him, she giggled.

The second one works. The first one doesn’t. Why? Let’s break it down: Continue reading “It Was Tense: Past Progressive Verbs”

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: Writing Tense Confusion

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© Jorge Royan / http://www.royan.com.ar / CC BY-SA 3.0

Every now and then, when I’m reading, I’ll run across something that makes me go, “Huh?” I’m not talking about the sort of full-on assault perpetrated by authors who don’t think spelling, punctuation, and grammar matter at all. I’m talking about the sort of thing that makes my head wobble a little bit as I frown and say, “Hmm. That doesn’t sound right to me.”

Take, for example, the use of yesterday, today, and tomorrow in fiction. Sometimes they just don’t sit right with me. And it’s always when the narrator of the piece – first person or third, doesn’t matter – is telling about something that occurred in the past. Continue reading “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: Writing Tense Confusion”

Crafting Your Writer’s Voice: Tense and Person

voice-clipart-clip-art-illustration-of-orange-man-shouting-megaphone-royalty-freeHow do you know when you’ve found your true voice? I write multi-genre, and I discovered a long time ago that the genre, or the story itself, demands the voice. I write softer, more descriptively, when I write romance. I write more directly and tersely with an action/adventure. I also write more directly when my protagonist is male, and more effusively when my protagonist is female. Back in 2013, I wrote more extensively about changing voices here.

But beyond the story suggesting a voice, how do you craft that voice? You do have choices, you know. Continue reading “Crafting Your Writer’s Voice: Tense and Person”