Tuesday, 17 March 2009

So what are my tense problems?

This year is all about sucking up my pride and accepting I need to work at the craft of writing fiction. So when a grammar GODDESS offered to give a once off critique of one of my short stories I took her up on it. Possibly the most valuable hour I have had in a long time. Short version, I'm seeing why people get confused as to the tense of my stories, al-la:

Mandy walked through the front door. She smiled at the man seated behind a dusty display counter. It’s filled with old beat up box cameras, broken watches frozen in time and no end of gaudy costume jewellery.

Do you see where I am screwing up? It's is a contraction for it is, not it was which is what I should have used for a past tense storyline. Dammit! How about another?

Mandy considered leaving the store, she’s less concerned about being ignored than she is about feeling a bit creeped out by the guy.

Did it twice in that bloody sentence. Past tense with considered and concerned, but then I go throw in a she's (contraction for she is) and a she is--so not even consistent in my contractions. *sigh*

As we sat there and went through the rest of the story the present tense errors started to leap from the page - The store is, Soon Mandy is, at least there’s no cramps. They are all sprinkled throughout the entire work which is supposed to be written in past tense!

Mandy walked through the front door. She smiled at the man seated behind a dusty display counter. The counter was filled with old beat up box cameras, broken watches frozen in time and no end of gaudy costume jewellery.

Mandy considered leaving the store, she was less concerned about being ignored than being a bit creeped out by the guy.
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1 comment:

CIS said...

Here is the deal. I just read a published story, a book, that jumped constantly in tense and in point of view. I thought, "this book is breaking every basic rule and it got published." It drives me insane that some books can hit shelves with a "modern approach to literature" and yet we can be hammered mercilessly by the illuminati. Best of luck, bro, in all your endeavors. I look forward to reading more of your posts. Stop by NoahMatthews. I would love your opinion.