The UVic Writer's Guide

Tense (T)

A common problem in literary essays is switching tense when discussing plot. It is standard practice to talk about events in a narrative in the present tense:

When Kit and Port arrive in El Ga'a, Port becomes ill.

Only use the past tense if you are discussing one event and wish to make reference to something that happens earlier in the book:

Port discovers that his passport is missing, and realizes that Eric must have stolen it when they were together.

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Copyright, Department of English, The University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated Sept. 24, 1995