I have a question about tenses. Similar issues have been discussed in other threads, but I have a very specific question.
Now, most stories (including the one I'm working on) are written in the past tense - i.e. that is the "default tense", used when talking about what happens as the story unfolds, the "chapter-time" tense. When we need to talk about something that happened earlier, before our current chapter time, like in a flashback, the perfect tense is usually used.
A lot of people seem to find the perfect tense a bit clunky, however, and prefer to stick to the simple past tense as much as possible, but from what I understand, editors are generally quite strict about this rule, and they usually want to see it used also when it's "clear from the context" that we're making a flashback/talking about earlier developments. Apparently, it's rather common when people submit their first script to a professional editor that they get a lot of directions of the form "need perfect tense here!" and are a bit surprised by this.
From what I've read, it seems to be accepted when making a long flashback to slid back into the simple past, but we should then at least have the first sentence in the perfect tense and mark the return to chapter-time clearly, for example by making the last sentence perfect tense again (like closing a parenthesis).
Now, my question is: what if I in the same sentence specify a date or time, or a timewindow etc? Can I skip the perfect tense in that case?
So, for example, should I write:
I looked at the body. It felt unreal. I had spoken with both him and his sister last Friday. Everything had seemed fine. Now he was dead.
I looked at the body. It felt unreal. I spoke with both him and his sister last Friday. Everything seemed fine. Now he was dead.
Or can I use the simple past in any of these sentences?
I'm working on translating a trilogy from Swedish to English, and have some help from an American to polish the language (he's not a professional editor, though, but a voice actor (I want to do audiobooks as well)), and he seems very keen on dropping my usage of the perfect tense in flashbacks, in particular when there's a date or other kind of temporal specification in the same sentence. Since I'm not a native English speaker, I would want a second opinion here.