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Present Tense Statements in Past Tense Stories

Ross at Play
Updated:

I am looking at a story written in the past tense which I think needs to use some present tense statements.

Consider these example sentences:
Everyone has choices.
She grieves for his memory.
She must do this.


I think the first two are needed to convey that those things are not changeable, almost everlasting truths.

The third is tricky because the modal verb 'must' has no past tense. The closest you can get is 'She had to do this.' I think the 'must' version is technically ungrammatical but works better to convey a sense that no other option exists.

Any comments?

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

Yes, there are statements that in the present tense mean they're ongoing (true today and forever). However, they typically appear when it's the author budding in (author intrusion).

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

Thanks, Switch. I have taken note of your warning.

Uther_Pendragon

@Switch Blayde

Yes, there are statements that in the present tense mean they're ongoing (true today and forever). However, they typically appear when it's the author budding in (author intrusion).


It also depends a lot on the subtleties of the voice you're writing in.

Sometimes, I'm simply telling the story -- Asimov's "plate glass." Sometimes, I'm somebody telling the story -- "You can talk o' gin and beer/ when your quartered safe out 'ere / and sent to penny fights and Aldershot it."

(BTW: the program doesn't recognize "Aldershot." Am I misspelling it?"

richardshagrin

We are way past tents, we live in bungalows now.

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