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Cher
Cher, Educator-40+ yrs
Category: General
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In a novel, I am confused when it comes to using the proper

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In a novel, I am confused when it comes to using the proper tense. For example, if I am describing something in the past -- "He walked through the area with caution" then I describe the area that he is in, "This area has tall buildings and immaculate streets" is that ok since the area currently has those characteristics? Or are you always supposed to stay in the same tense "The area had tall buildings"

I am trying to describe real time action to make the book more exciting so I am trying to figure out how to stay within the grammar rules regarding tense.

Thanks
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: General
Expert:  jadt65 replied 1 year ago.

Hi,

If you are describing the area as it is today, you will need to transition to the present.

For example, " He walked though the area with caution. Today, this area has tall buildings and immaculate streets." Taking that approach, you will still need to indicate how the description of the area today is relevant to the narrative that takes place in the past.

Another way to go would be, " He walked through the streets of XXXX with caution because they were dark and isolated in contrast to today, where the area has tall buildings and immaculate streets.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

So you always have to mention something about Today to make it work? The problem is that I am describing a story that takes place in the past, but the setting they are in has characteristics that still exist today. So if I say "this restaurant had" instead of "has" then the reader could think that I'm saying the restaurant doesn't have that characteristic anymore. In my book, the characters are in a well-known real place so the details of that place are important, thanks!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Relist: Incomplete answer.
Expert:  Cher replied 1 year ago.
Hello, and welcome back to Just Answer.

What you want to describe, also depends on the 'style' of your novel. If it is in a 'narrative' style, you can describe things as they are, but go about it via a different composition of words your sentences. For example, instead of saying, "This area has tall buildings and immaculate streets", it might fit into your story better, to say something like "The tall buildings and immaculate streets in this part of the city always made it so unique." OR "This area has (or had) always been known for it's tall buildings and immaculate streets."

While it's important to maintain the correct tense, grammatically, if you are telling a story, it's alright to describe how he 'walked' through the area, but your description of how the area 'looks' this way today or 'looked' this way at the moment he walked through it, is fine.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please click 'Reply to Expert' before rating, direct your reply to me, "Cher", and I will be glad to continue our conversation.



Please rate with positive feedback (Laughing) when you are satisfied with my answer. Thanks very much! Your satisfaction is always my greatest priority and my only goal is to provide you with Excellent Service!

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Best regards,
Cher
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Ok thank you, XXXXX XXXXX I said, "He walked through the West Wing of the White House as he talked to Mike. The West Wing has several famous paintings in the main hall..."


 


Is that correct?

Expert:  Cher replied 1 year ago.

Hi again, and you're most welcome!

Yes, that would be correct. Laughing

 

I realize this is a work in progress, but it might make it a little more interesting if you wrote something like: "He walked through the West Wing of the White House as he talked to Mike. The walls of the West Wing are well known for their famous paintings, hanging in the main hall...."

 

 

If you need any additional information at this time, please let me know by clicking 'Reply to Expert'.

 

If you found my answer helpful, it would be appreciated if you could please take a moment to RATE with a smiling face, before exiting the site, as this is the only way in which I receive credit from the site for my assistance. Thank you!

Best regards,
Cher

Cher, Educator-40+ yrs
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 18868
Experience: M.A., B.A., Author, Senior Informational Specialist
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