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hux

Is There a term For This?

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I'm writing a novel but I'm not very good with the technical side of writing. 

 

The book is first person narrative, past tense, but I find myself often writing in a way that is muddying the water a little.

 

In other words, instead of writing something like:

 

1) We sat on the wall and watched the kids playing football in the street...

 

I find myself writing:

 

2) We would sit on the wall and watch the kids playing football in the street...

 

Is there a term for this second style? It feels more distant (past, past tense) but I'm mixing it with the former style which is confusing me. 

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I think 2 is more active than 1 which might be passive.

But both are equally valid in (British) English and may be regional variations.

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On 15/06/2019 at 01:52, Clavain said:

https://thejohnfox.com/2016/06/writing-in-first-person/

Any good? 

For me the first sounds better and have no idea why.. Maybe in the second your saying your in the past twice?

 

Interesting but doesn't really cover it. I'd be surprised if there wasn't a term, phrase, or something out there that clarifies the difference.

 

'I stood on the hill and waited for Julie'... plonks you into the narration a little more whereas... 'I would stand on the hill and wait for Julie'... feels more like I'm telling a story from a greater distance. I'm using them both interchangeably and I fear this is probably bad.

Edited by hux

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Also, perhaps 'I would stand on the hill and wait for Julie' could refer to multiple times that you stood on the hill to wait for Julie.

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3 hours ago, tagesmann said:

Also, perhaps 'I would stand on the hill and wait for Julie' could refer to multiple times that you stood on the hill to wait for Julie.

 

Exactly, so what would that type of narration be called? It's obviously first person, past tense, but there's something else going on, a kind of 'distant first person' quality.

 

I'm generally starting chapters in that way, then focusing in on a particular day or event and switching to the more conventional style (I stood on the hill and... etc).

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Simple / Indefinite Present Tense

He/She/It stands .

I stand.

You/We/They stand.

 

Present Continuous Tense

He/She/It is standing.

I am standing.

You/We/They are standing.

 

Present Perfect Tense

He/She/It has stood.

I have stood.

You/We/They have stood.

 

Present Perfect Continuous Tense

He/She/It has been standing.

I have been standing.

You/We/They have been standing.

 

Simple Past Tense

He/She/It stood.

I stood.

You/We/They stood.

 

Past Continuous Tense

He/She/It was standing.

I was standing.

You/We/They were standing.

 

Past Perfect Tense

He/She/It had stood.

I had stood.

You/We/They had stood.

 

Past Perfect Continuous Tense

He/She/It had been standing.

I had been standing.

You/We/They had been standing.

 

Simple Future Tense

He/She/It will/shall stand.

I will/shall stand.

You/We/They will/shall stand.

 

Future Continuous Tense

He/She/It will/shall be standing.

I will/shall be standing.

You/We/They will/shall be standing.

 

Future Perfect Tense

He/She/It will/shall have stood.

I will/shall have stood.

You/We/They will/shall have stood.

 

Future Perfect Continuous Tense

He/She/It will/shall have been standing.

I will/shall have been standing.

You/We/They will/shall have been standing.

 

So, would isn't included but I think it is past perfect.  But you may think it comes under a similar rule to 'would always' shown here https://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/would.html

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I checked 'The Blind Assassin' by Atwood because I was sure she wrote like this in that and sure enough, there are lots of examples.

 

"In the morning I would help Laura to dress -- that had been my task even when mother was alive -- and make sure she brushed her teeth and washed her face. At lunchtime Rennie would sometimes let us have a picnic."

 

Of course, Atwood is writing about a woman (she begins most chapters in present tense) who walks around and reminisces about her childhood (which is where the word 'would' begins to occur more often) though it doesn't occur as much when she's reminiscing about her adult past.

 

I still don't know if there is a name for this technique though. Or when it's acceptable to use it. 

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On 18/06/2019 at 21:40, hux said:

I still don't know if there is a name for this technique though. Or when it's acceptable to use it. 

Always.

It's a legitimate form.

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