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Help me, Grammar-Wan-Kenobi

This is embarrassing but I figure better now than after the fact. I`m doing a little experiment and writing a fic in present tense so now I`m at a bit of a loss. Writing about past actions when do I use simple past and when do I use the "had done..." version? Anyone? Bueller?

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( 21 have dazzled me — Dazzle me )
trueshellz
Mar. 22nd, 2008 11:33 pm (UTC)
Ouchie, well most of the time you can use the past tense of the verb like leave, leaving and left for example
But you can also use had left
Depends on the sentence structure more than anything else I guess
But thats just me
xxx
astri13
Mar. 22nd, 2008 11:44 pm (UTC)
Mostly I have problems with recollections and memories, when someone is thinking of something that happened say years ago. I`ve checked up on other fics and they tend to use the "had been..." for that but then when there is remembered dialogue it suddenly switches back to simple past and I`m totally lost. :/
trueshellz
Mar. 22nd, 2008 11:45 pm (UTC)
I think it dialogue it makes sense to use the actual past verb that the 'had done' one only coz it sounds better
Not 100% sure though
x
legoline
Mar. 22nd, 2008 11:39 pm (UTC)
You know, I have no idea how quick they are but you might ask here: fandom_grammar ...
astri13
Mar. 22nd, 2008 11:44 pm (UTC)
Ah, okay thanks. Didn`t know that existed.
legoline
Mar. 25th, 2008 04:11 pm (UTC)
By the way, random...you know what you've done? I read a summary on ihearttvshows like "300 A.D. : the Roman Sebastianus is exiled to a remote outpost populated exclusively by men. Weakened by their desires, these men turn to homosexual activities to satisfy their needs. However, Sebastianus becomes the target of lust for a homosexual centurion, but he rejects the man's advances" and my first thought is, "Sounds like something Astrid would write into J2" ... *headdesk*

Edited at 2008-03-25 04:12 pm (UTC)
astri13
Mar. 25th, 2008 07:59 pm (UTC)
Sounds like something Astrid would write into J2" ... *headdesk*

Hee. I could do an anthology "J2 throughout the ages", it would even be educational. :D
legoline
Mar. 25th, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
There you go :D
kentawolf
Mar. 22nd, 2008 11:47 pm (UTC)
Well, it's best in general, for more effective writing, to leave out the "to be" verb (is, has, had) whenever you can. Such as: rewriting the sentence. So, for example: "He had done it" can be transformed into "He did it."

Have + verb = Continuous action in the past with no definite beginning and ending. Such as: "I have skipped rope in my time."

Had + verb = One action in the past with a definite beginning and ending. Such as: "I had walked to the store, but it was closed."

Present tense writing uses the verb tense differently with different points-of-view:
If you're doing a THIRD-PERSON point of view, you are to be using past-tense verbs, such as "He walkED to the store." (That example is also a good way of fixing the "Had + verb" example for more effective writing...i.e. getting rid of the "to be" verb.)

If you're doing a FIRST-PERSON point of view, you are to be using the present-tense verb, such as "He walkS to the store," or "I walkED to the store."

SECOND-PERSON point of view would be as such, "You walk to the store."

---

Much blah. It's the writing-tutor in me. ;)
astri13
Mar. 23rd, 2008 12:03 am (UTC)
Ah, thank you. Mostly I go by feeling aka what "sounds good" in English but with grammar it can be tricky.

Had + verb = One action in the past with a definite beginning and ending. Such as: "I had walked to the store, but it was closed."

So if someone was doing something right now that I write in present tense and their thoughts featured a recollection of a past event, one that is definitely finished I`d use the "he had done so and so"?

And then of course there is past dialogue. *drops dead*

What I never really know what to do with things that "linger", like feelings. Say if I want to establish that person A had a certain effect on person B they would presumably still have, only A and B currently don`t interact so it`s all technically in the past.

Sorry for the grammar bombardment. *g*
kentawolf
Mar. 23rd, 2008 12:23 am (UTC)
So if someone was doing something right now that I write in present tense and their thoughts featured a recollection of a past event, one that is definitely finished I`d use the "he had done so and so"?

If it is the character recollecting without a flashback, yes. But it is even best to leave it out then for effective, clean writing, and just use past tense. You can indicate it was a past event by phrases, such as "remembered." Such as: "As he washed the dishes, he remembered when he went to brunch every Sunday after church." (*reminds self to make examples that make sense*) If that seems too "not-subtle", it is. It's this finesse of writing so the audience knows what time they're reading about.

And then of course there is past dialogue. *drops dead*

If it's direct quoting/dialogue, it's iffy. It depends on how you bracket/bookend it with narration or other dialogue:
He stared at the cliff-edge of the water-hole. "I told you it was dangerous," he had said.
I love you, he had said.
I love you, he said once.

What I never really know what to do with things that "linger", like feelings. Say if I want to establish that person A had a certain effect on person B they would presumably still have, only A and B currently don`t interact so it`s all technically in the past.

Yes, you can use "had/have" for this. Such as: "He had fallen for her/him/shim." However, this feels like the definite past event that may not still be true. Again, it is best to cut the "to be" verb: "He fell for her/him/shim." See how it feels more "lingering"? The audience immediately will ask questions in their heads, like: "Is he still in love?" Because the "had fallen," carries with it the connotation that it is an isolated event in the past, with a definite beginning AND END.

ARGH. Just send whatever to me and I'll edit with you.

astri13
Mar. 23rd, 2008 02:08 pm (UTC)
ARGH. Just send whatever to me and I'll edit with you.

Hee. *roped in* I could send you my beginning so you can see what my screw-y brain is trying to get across and in turn my screw-y brain can figure out the underlying principle of the thing. :)
albeitslowly
Mar. 23rd, 2008 12:21 am (UTC)
K, I hope I'm not repeating anyone here, lol, cuz I clicked on comment without reading what had already been said, but here's my rule.

Past perfect tense (have, had, has been, blah, blah) is really awkward to read and write. If you're going to have a passage about something that happened in the past, usually just the first sentence or two is enough of a transition in past perfect tense, and then I'd use straight past. But, of course, I'm saying this without knowing the context, so I could be waaaay off base.
kentawolf
Mar. 23rd, 2008 12:24 am (UTC)
Tru dat. I'm agreeing. Past perfect is really awkward.
albeitslowly
Mar. 23rd, 2008 12:27 am (UTC)
LOL, but great for increasing word count, right? I mean, if you need that extra ten words to make your quota, fall back on the old "write in past perfect tense" rule. Haha.
kentawolf
Mar. 23rd, 2008 12:34 am (UTC)
HA! OMG such cheating! SHAME. ;P
astri13
Mar. 23rd, 2008 02:01 pm (UTC)
Ahahaha. Good to know. :D
astri13
Mar. 23rd, 2008 02:03 pm (UTC)
If you're going to have a passage about something that happened in the past, usually just the first sentence or two is enough of a transition in past perfect tense, and then I'd use straight past.

Oh, that`s interesting because that`s totally what confused me in reading other fics since in German grammar you can`t jump tenses in a passage that by content belongs together.
albeitslowly
Mar. 24th, 2008 12:45 pm (UTC)
Well, to be honest, most grammar rules are designed for writing nonfiction. Don't even get me started on how many lab reports I wrote in Grad school had to formatted entirely in past perfect tense. Yick! But when it comes to fiction writing, there are no hard fast rules. Pick up a lot of bestsellers on the shelves today, and you'll find a load of taboo grammar. What matters is telling the story, and so long as yo don't offend anyone with horrible spelling and hundred word sentences, playing it fast and loose is tolerated to a good degree and appreciated when it supports the theme in some way.

As for your specific question. Just... past perfect tense is yucky, lol.
katikat
Mar. 23rd, 2008 09:22 am (UTC)
Lately, I've been writing my stories in present time only. I find it easier since all the English past tenses are kinda confusing ;P For some reason, my beta finds it incredibly funny XD I usually use only "I sit down" and "I sat down" in fics with the occasional "I'm sitting" :)
astri13
Mar. 23rd, 2008 02:00 pm (UTC)
I find it easier since all the English past tenses are kinda confusing ;P

Tell me about it. :D
( 21 have dazzled me — Dazzle me )