What is a time clause – How is it used and How does that issue have the potential to ruin a Novel – Short Story etc?
As a Teacher of English as a Second Language , I spend my time working in two basic areas – Structure and Time.
First the Student learns the various structures of sentences in the English Language.
Next the Student must learn what time in the real world the structure represents.
Sounds easy but you would be amazed how easy it is to mess it up – particularly if the Student’s mother tongue isn’t so strict about which conjugation represents which time.
To the point. One of the issues is to learn vocablulary that relates to the time you are trying to express. How many ways are there to say NOW?
At this moment
The same goes with writing fiction. Often, a sentences starts off with a time clause to show the passage of time from one consecutive scene or act to the next. (This IMHO is a danger zone in writing – you can write some dull, dull prose and / or your work can turn out to be a Movie of the Week Special – moving along from scene to scene with nothing tying it together except the action and obstacles the hero must beat.)
It would be a help to have a huge vocablulary of Time clauses and also notice how other writers get around this issue, how they show the passage of time, etc. Some time clauses may be specific for a certain time and others may be possible for more than one time or conjugation.
Most narrative is in the past (some writers create stories in the present but it is bordering on experimental, is shunned by some and frankly, I haven’t tried to write in the present so I’ll post on that topic after I have something to say about it. Present will only be logical for my Novel in sections of dialogue.)
Time Clauses and Expressions – How to use them and which time they represent is the domain of “To Each His Own.”
after, as soon as, before, till, until, when, whenever, while, the minute, the moment, by the time, by,
yesterday, last week, an hour ago, recently, a little while ago, a long time ago, in the past, this morning
today, this week, now, as we speak, at this moment, these days, nowadays, at this time
tomorrow, next week, in an hour, soon, in the near future, way off in the future, eventually, later this evening
The Trick is to mix up the way you use Time clauses, phrases and expressions to keep it interesting and avoid a constant linguistic syntactic pattern.
I will be updating this page from time to time as a reminder to myself of the various possibilities so check back.
Good luck with keeping your time clauses interesting.
David Gordon Burke
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