5

I was wondering what tense I should use for writing a story. What I use is a Present and past tense mixture. But I am not sure whether they are right or wrong. If I write something general, I use present tense.

The temple is situated on the river bank.

But if I describe some action, or a situation when the action occurs, I use past tense.

The temple is situated on the river bank. In the evening many people gather in the temple.The river runs dry most of the year. By the time I reached the river bank the sun had already set. I came far, and the journey was very troublesome. There are cut marks all over my face, and hands.

(Note that this is NOT a proofreading request.)

I am not sure how to determine the tense. Is there a general rule to follow in situations like this? I would prefer an answer that's applicable beyond just this specific short paragraph.

7

I think where you run into trouble is in the last two sentences of the paragraph.

I came far, and the journey was very troublesome. There are cut marks all over my face, and hands.

From the previous sentence (“By the time I reached the river bank. . .”) the reader is pointed to a specific moment in time. These last two sentences are then phrased in the simple past and present continuous, respectively. If I am correct that these last two sentences refer to the time you reached the river bank, they would be clearer as:

I had come far, and the journey had been very troublesome. There were cut marks. . .

As far as a general rule, there aren’t strict prohibitions on combining any number of tenses in a single paragraph. My advice would be to study past perfect, and diagram your paragraph temporally, like so:

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0

If it's a story, then it must have occurred in the past. Accordingly I recommend that you use the simple past, past continuous, past perfect, and past perfect continuous tenses exclusively. I see no point in using any present tense.

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