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Did I fuck up the tense?

Back in November 2008 I had a tiny fiction published at Every Day Fiction. People can comment on the stories EDF put online and score them out of five. The Collector of Shiny has been up a fair while now and naturally comments tailed off after the first few days. Today though I got one:

I lurched to a halt after you couldn’t marry your tenses up – “I never once cookED him dinner or manageD to wash the dishes”
And so will any editor or reader. At least take the time to proofread your work. ugh.

So, firstly, hmm, that’s rude. He may well think I fucked up on the tenses but did he really need to give me an “ugh”? Oh well.

Secondly, shit, did I fuck up? Would anyone mind having a read and letting me know? It’s only a small piece.

The piece is present tense – it still reads right to me but I accept it may not be and it’d be useful to know.

Thirdly, wow, that was unnecessarily snarky eh? And shouldn’t that “ugh” have had a capital letter? Tee hee.

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11 responses »

  1. Not at all. Your story is perfect. He was projecting, assuming the relationship is over, and I told him so!

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  2. I studied it for about five minutes, and I think the tenses are fine. As Tania said, past tense in that situation would imply the relationship is over, which it isn't.

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  3. "I lurched to a halt after you couldn’t marry your tenses up"- 'lurched' must be a deliberate exaggeration, unless they were reading on horseback. For a comment on tensing, the timing here is weird. They lurched after you "couldn't"??? Marry up is wrong. You can marry up a horse and cart. Tenses are simply deployed. A curiously difficult sentence here – perhaps denoting frustration on the part of the author.“I never once cookED him dinner or manageD to wash the dishes”- Entirely incorrect and, as a solution, an even greater interruption in the flow of the story than what it is supposed to correct, which is no interruption at all. Capital letters perhaps denoting frustration on the part of the author. "And so will any editor or reader."Arrogant. Browbeating. Unnecessary. Perhaps denoting frustration on the part of the author."At least take the time to proofread your work."The author means 'copy-edit". Proof-reading (note the hyphen) is for typos only (note the hyphen). Incorrect word and incorrect spelling of incorrect word perhaps denoting frustration on the part of the author. "ugh." A last gasp at an articulate sentence?

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  4. Thank you Tania, Steven and Frank. He seemed so certain that I doubted myself. You are lovely to have taken the time.Smiley face!

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  5. This looks like present tense to me…"He loves me even though I am a failure as a wife/lover/friend.Even though I never once cook him dinner, or manage to wash the dishes in time for his return from work…."Course, maybe he likes to mix up his own tenses. Who knows.Who cares?I always liked this story, Sara. Nice to see it again. Ta.Vx

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  6. Sara, nice story. I will have to find more of your stuff.Let me first say that Frank's analysis is the definitive treatment. I cannot improve on it, but I am going to say something anyway.I think that what probably caused the rude commenter's inarticulate frustration was the "I never once cook…".He probably was used to hearing/reading, "I never once cooked…" Of course, to work in your story, it would have to be: "I have never once cooked…"Otherwise, the present tense is fine. "I never cook…" might be a slight improvement to my own ear. "Never" excluding a "once". But this is clearly internal dialogue of the character and if your character uses "I never once cook…" instead of "I don't ever cook…", "I have never once cooked…", or any of a hundred other ways people express that thought, I cannot tell you've got the wrong character here. People say that and your character is a person. Not to be overly analytical about it, but: Duh."I never…manage…" is absolutely pristine.Or, what Frank said.

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  7. Kerry thank you so much for taking a look. I think you are right, taking out the once makes it cleaner and crisper. Glad that it seems I didn't mess up the tense though.: )

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  8. Sara, I am happy if my comment helped in any way. The important thing is that the rude guy was wrong. I love when that happens. Just makes you feel the world isn't so bad after all.Anyway, checked out your story "Yeah, yeah, it takes two" at 3:AM Magazine. Good work.

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  9. Yay, the rude guy is wrong, which makes him rude *and* silly!Ooh, and thanks for your kind comment about "Yeah, yeah…"Made my day!

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  10. You know what? Even if it is badly tensed (and it isn't) – so? There was no need to be a prat about it. Sounds like he just wanted a reaction, and to be fair, we've given it to him.Believe in yourself and keep on truckin'.:o)

    Reply
  11. Thank you Brian. I'll try to truck!

    Reply

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