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15

Yes, you're totally fine. If your tense shift happens between paragraphs — that is, the new tense starts a new paragraph — it should be clear what's happening. If this is a first-person narrative and you as the writer have shown that this is the narrator addressing someone, there's no reason you can't shift. People do this in reality in their speech. What ...


12

Past tense is my instinct. Yet it depends on what you are writing and the writing's purpose. If it's an adventure story or something with more of a fast pace then clearly present tense might be best. "What was that? Rustling in the bushes nearby. Footsteps just beyond--sound like a person, a large person. I must move on. Now." That is more effective than: "...


12

Let's break down your illustrative sentence: Users can delete Servers This statement describes a capability -- users can perform this action. I'm hard-pressed to imagine how a different tense could be used here. Some technical writers (or style guides) make this overly passive -- "the system supports user deletion of servers" or some such. Speaking ...


12

If the non-fiction work is an essay or similar analysis of the literary work, I would use present tense. Tom Sawyer's friendship with Huckleberry Finn represents unity between middle and lower class Americans. In the scene where Tom is painting his fence... (I've never read the book, I just made something up for an example)


10

The book exists in the present, so the characters do as well. The author, though, exists in the past, since he's no longer with us. Mark Twain wrote about a boy, Tom Sawyer, who has adventures with his friends. It would not be wrong to write about the character in past tense if describing his actions that have already happened (because you finished the ...


9

Personally I wouldn't change from third to first person in the middle of the story, it's always a little bit jarring for the reader. That being said, maybe being jarring is what you want in this case. It would make the flashbacks stand out. Being in first person for the flashback would also make it feel more personal, something you might want for that ...


9

This kind of thing is always Your Mileage May Vary, of course, but I think if you're doing it in an epilogue (clearly labeled as such), you can probably get away with it. The main story is done, and this is a separate after-piece. The tense-switching rule is meant to address comprehension. If part of what you want the reader to comprehend is that "All of ...


9

The actual switch in tense is fine. The context of one tense is simply different from the context of the other. If the bulk of a story is in the past tense, but the narrator switches to the present tense in a few places, I often see such passages put in italics, simply to visually offset the different context. This can help with any possible confusion on ...


8

We use tenses to establish a temporal order between statements and from there derive chronology and causality between facts. If you mess that up, no one will be able to follow the stream of events in your writings. That does not mean that it is forbidden to switch tenses. In fact in a stream of consciousness narration it is perfectly acceptable to switch ...


7

I think you have it written correctly. "I remember Eve" means that at the moment he's speaking, he does in fact remember her. To say "I remembered Eve" means that at some point (in the past) he didn't remember Eve, and then at some point (still in the past, but more recently), he did remember her again. The same with "I don't think I'll ever recover" ...


7

It's a bit dicey. You'd have to have a good reason for it. If Preston's POV is in the present, but Paola's POV is in the past, is the story happening in Preston's time? Is Paola relating things in flashback? Is Preston an alien or someone who experiences time in a non-linear fashion, as compared to Paola who is a more bog-standard human? Are you ...


6

Try this: San Francisco is just coming to life. I can see all of downtown from my hotel room. Ten stories below, the traffic is backed up on Powell Street. ... etc. ... etc. Two weeks earlier I am sitting in a bar in New Orleans. The bartender asks me etc. etc. The italics on their own line become a timestamp rather than part of the sentence.


6

On the language level: when you show a moment from a continuous, slow or unchanging process or state - showing that the process was in progress, or the state was such already when the observation began. On writing level - purpose: when you want to induce the feeling of stillness, create image instead of action, describe state instead of activity. Also, ...


6

When I find myself typing had too many times I treat it as a symptom of either too much exposition, too much laboured logic, or too much effort invested in justifying the 'now'. At this point I've probably delved (as you have) into negative storytelling, and probably deviated too far from plot or character. First thing I look at is whether I should go back ...


6

This sounds like a good and apt use of person and tense changes–they aren't arbitrary, and they indicate either a change in POV or a change of setting/state of mind. The typical rule against tense and person changes is because they introduce discontinuities into the narrative voice. But in this case, that's a good thing. Of course, it still needs to be ...


5

Not sure if I'm missing something, but this doesn't seem confusing to me. I'm assuming that the person that "my" refers to is not Anne, in which case it's the narrator. Therefore, I'd say that the first example is more correct. The narrator is recalling a story and telling it to someone, therefore both statements should refer to the past. However, the ...


5

The most important thing to consider is whether or not there are valid justications for the effort of changing posts to the past tense, given that you are increasing your workload and increasing the risk of introducing errors into the text. In terms of justifications, the only one I can think of is that readers may get confused reading something in the ...


5

You're making the time shift too casual, too non-committing. That's a major jump granting a new section or at the very least a new paragraph. You can't just go by with a single clause of a longer sentence. Lauren is quite right when making it stand out with italics, but if you want to avoid formatting it that way or think it disrupts the flow, you can fit ...


5

I think that beginning with a series of flashbacks might be difficult for the reader to follow if there was no sense of what they are moving towards. This might not be exactly what you are doing, but in any case my advice would be to consider an in medias res structure. Instead of narrating consecutive flashbacks leading up to the present, begin with a ...


5

That actually might be really interesting. Particularly if you label the flashbacks as "1958" or "Forty years ago," and then the present is "now" or "Present day." And if your flashbacks get closer together (one year ago, six months ago, four months ago, six weeks ago, three weeks ago, one week ago, three days ago, thirty-six hours ago...) and speed up, that ...


5

When it comes to fiction there is no accepted tense. As long as you don't change tense, perspective or person midstream you're fine. Yes past tense is most common but I've read future, present, and past tense and I've read first, third and even second person (that one took a little getting used to but was very well used by Charles Stross) The real answer ...


5

The trick is to keep everything in past tense except the word now. This is how it's done in published books. Ancestor by Scott Sigler: On the screen, a man crawled across the floor, leaving behind him a glistening trail of puss, blood and other fluids Chapman didn't want to think about. The man's once-white lab coat was now wet-pink, clinging to his body ...


5

It doesn't matter how much dialogue you have. If your story (the narration) is in present tense, then all the verbs have to be in present tense. All the dialogue tags, all the narration, everything. The only exception is if you're talking about something which happened in the past relative to the present moment of the story. [Bolding is for emphasis, not ...


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