Writing Glitch #52

Today’s glitch:


Do the verb tenses look wonky to you? They sure look that way to me…

In first-person narration, the tense may go from past to present and back without warning if the narrating character drops out of the story to address an audience (listener or reader). It’s sometimes appropriate and sometimes not, and it’s not really possible to tell for certain from such a small sample if the author meant to do it that way or if the present-tense sentence is a mistake.

Here’s the all-past-tense version: How long had I been here? There was no way of knowing. I used to scratch the days on the walls, but it seemed pointless after a while.

Whatever is done with the verb tenses, there does need to be a comma after walls, because the last sentence is compound.


About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
This entry was posted in Writing Glitches and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Writing Glitch #52

  1. Those subjunctive clauses will get you every time. And the comma.

    Liked by 1 person

Don't hold back -- tell me what you really think.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.