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Old 04-25-2010, 04:05 PM
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Icon5 Need feedback on tense problem


I'm working on a short story and have come upon a question as to if I can actually do this in the below paragraph. The first sentence directly pertains to the story and is in past tense. Some of the following sentences are in present tense because I am stating the imagery as a general "for all time" kind of thing, if that makes any sense. I'm not sure if I am really breaking any tense rules because the imagery is of the situation, but not part of the sequence of the story. I think if I put it in past tense, the power of the statement will be less. Please let me know what you think. Thanks!

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The feeling came upon her like a slight breeze smelling of rain only without any precipitation present. The smell intoxicates in what it predicts. Itís that kind of aroma which flows through the air, unable to be captured, to be seen, to be sustenance felt against skin until the sky finally pours. In fact, the whole affair would leave Marina as a desert if she was the ground.

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Old 04-28-2010, 05:35 AM
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The feeling came upon her like a slight breeze that smelt of rain, only without any precipitation; intoxicating in what it predicts, the kind of aroma that flows through the air, unable to be captured, or to be seen. In fact, the whole affair would leave Marina yearning, like the desert, for that sustenance felt only when the sky finally pours.

... My version isn't any better (I don't think), but...
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Old 04-28-2010, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by universe_portal View Post

The feeling came upon her like a slight breeze smelling of rain only without any precipitation present. past tense The smell intoxicates in what it predicts. present tense Itís that kind of aroma which flows through the air, unable to be captured, to be seen, to be sustenance felt against skin until the sky finally pours. present tense In fact, the whole affair would leave Marina as a desert if she was the ground. future-in-past tense

Whew, that is confusing! And it's not just the tenses. The images you are trying to convey are not coming through all that clearly for me. Maybe if you were more concise?

The feeling came upon her like a slight redundant - a breeze isn't going to be hearty breeze smelling of rain only without any precipitation present replace with: before it falls?.

The smell intoxicates in what it predicts. This takes the reader out of the story, imposing the author's thoughts in the narrative. Do you really want to do that?

Itís that kind of aroma which flows through the air, unable to be captured, to be seen, to be sustenance felt against skin until the sky finally pours. Continuance of authorial viewpoint. This is also very wordy. "It's that kind of" should be slashed from anything, and definitely here. "Unable to be captured" can be replaced with one word, maybe intangible? "...to be sustenance felt against the skin" not really sure what that means, whether or not the sky pours. But is all of this really necessary, or do you like it because you think it sounds writerly? Personally, I think it sounds overwritten and I would cut the second and third sentences entirely.

In fact, the whole affair would leave Marina as a desert if she was the ground. Here you are telling us what will happen before we get there. Is there a reason you want to do that? This is also phrased very awkwardly, as well as being a strange metaphor: if she was the ground, she would be so dry she'd be a desert. What a strange thing to say!

All in all, I think the problem is more than the tenses. You seem to be trying to pack an awful lot into one little paragraph - far more than you need to, and maybe far more than is good. Just my tuppenceworth.
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Old 04-28-2010, 06:23 PM
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I'm thinking I'll just change it all to present tense. With some other tweaking, it will make that paragraph more clear as well as improve the rest of the story. There's too much talking about the past while already being in past tense in other parts of the story.
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Old 04-28-2010, 06:26 PM
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Sometimes keeping it simple is best.
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