10.13.2005

Tension Headache

The comments barrel is overflowing on the question of tense! Miss Snark wants to look away, but like seeing a python eating a supersize Happy Meal, you just can't avert your eyes.

For the record, Miss Snark does not loath any tense but the passive.

Those commenters who've pointed out that tense must serve the story are saying exactly what Miss Snark thinks. Bright Lights Big City was a wonderful novel and telling it in second person was a stroke of genius. It doesn't have the flexibility of first or third, but when it's right, it's just right.

For those of you not beaten into rote recitation with a ruler in French, Latin, German and English grammar classes, here's a link
that might be helpful.

7 comments:

occasional_anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kmfrontain said...

Here is a massive resource on-line for grammar. I used the verb tense pages when I had French students learning English (With discretion. Too much grammar can blow a person's head off. I swear.)
http://www.fortunecity.com/bally/durrus/153/gramind.html

Breathe said...

I do get concerned when a writing lab has a typo:
We visted the museum yesterday.

Someone needs to adjust those bunsen burners!

Miss Snark said...

KM, nifty site, thanks! I bookmarked it for mornings like this when nothing looks correct!
MS

Brady Westwater said...

Just had nightmare flashback to Miss Lansu's 8 AM AP English Class. Links like this should be posted with a warning label: Do not read before fully awake. Permanent brain damage may result.

Cyclus said...

"...tense must serve the story...," and it's true of every technique of language. I once had the job of writing text to accompany photographs of children for an exhibit (and later book) on nineteenth-century childhood. There were boys and girls, children of all races and nationalities, and children from all walks of life. How do you write from the point-of-view of a child, male or female (looking back in reflection)?

Second-person past tense worked beautifully.

Bonnie, Of the Multitude of Snarklings said...

KM, that's a great site, thanks!