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Which is the correct way to write this sentence(s)?

cak85

Minstrel
A reader pointed out to me that I am mixing up verb tenses in my sentences. I didn't even realize I was doing it.

Can you help me figure out the right way to write this?

Option A
Yhora closed her eyes, her purple scars glowing.

Option B
Yhora closed her eyes. Her purple started to glow.

I personally prefer option A because it flows better but I think I may be mixing up present and past tense. Right?
 

WooHooMan

Auror
I read option A as she closed her eyes while her purple was glowing. Option B seems to be that the glowing didn’t start until she closed her eyes.
I think it’s less of a tense thing and more like vague continuity. I guess go with the option that is the correct sequence of events.

I would probably tweak it to read “Yhora closed her eyes as her purple scars began to glow” or something along those lines.
 
I’d say A is fine, and I have an aversion to “began” and “started”, so I’d avoid them. Sometimes people get messed up by the inconsistency of “-ed” and “-ing”, so one could also do this:

Yhora closed her eyes; her scars glowed purple.

So many ways to go.
 

Devor

Fiery Keeper of the Hat
Moderator
I also like Option A. Demesnedenoir was also onto something above, maybe without the semicolon - Yhora closed her eyes. Her scars glowed purple. Between the two I'd want to know the context, as the short sentences are faster and more action paced while the first has a slower, more descriptive pace.
 
Whose point of view is this scene from?

If it's Yhora's, neither works, because she wouldn't see her own scars glow, especially not with her eyes closed. If it's someone else's, which to use depends on what exactly is happening. Do Yhora's purple scars always glow when she closes her eyes? Or do the scars glowing and her eyes closing happen independently of each other? Are her scars already glowing when she closes her eyes? Or do they start to glow as soon as she has closed her eyes?
 

cak85

Minstrel
Thanks for the feedback everyone. This has been very helpful.

Rosemary Tea - This scene is not from Yhora's POV. It is from her captain's POV. This scene occurs later in the story after I have established how the magic system works. This species sometimes scar their skin which enhance one of their five senses. Yhora has enhanced sight so when she closes her eyes, she is basically "activating" her scars to help enhance her sight.

I imagine it happening like this:
1. Yhora closes her eyes
2. immediately after her scars start to glow
3. she opens her eyes and their eyes are ringed in purple fire (indicating that she has activated her sight)
 
I imagine it happening like this:
1. Yhora closes her eyes
2. immediately after her scars start to glow
In that case, option B is correct. Option A implies that the scars are either already glowing when she closes her eyes, or they glow independently of her eyes closing. Since closing her eyes starts the scars glowing, option B is accurate.
 
I do not think A is wrong. It does not imply the scars are already glowing or independent. The reason I don't see it that way is because it's immediate. Her eyes close, scars glow - it's near simultaneous. Mentioning two descriptive items does not necessitate them being independent of each other. I prefer option A because it flows better and gets the idea across just as well, if not better, than option B. There is no grammatical issue or verb tense conflict there, which was the original question.
 

cak85

Minstrel
Okay cool!

Thanks for all the feedback everyone. I know that mixing "ed" and "ing" verbs in one sentence is something I do pretty frequently as a writer. (I am not sure if the specific grammatical term for this though). So I just wanted to make sure that it is grammatically sound.
 

Steerpike

Felis amatus
Moderator
I imagine it happening like this:
1. Yhora closes her eyes
2. immediately after her scars start to glow
3. she opens her eyes and their eyes are ringed in purple fire (indicating that she has activated her sight)

In that case, I would go with the suggestion offered by Demesnedenoir
 
The bigger issue would be using multiple endings of one and a single of the other in a single sentence, but even then, you can do it. In fact, when done intentionally it can put an efective emphasis on the change.

Okay cool!

Thanks for all the feedback everyone. I know that mixing "ed" and "ing" verbs in one sentence is something I do pretty frequently as a writer. (I am not sure if the specific grammatical term for this though). So I just wanted to make sure that it is grammatically sound.
 

LCatala

Minstrel
A reader pointed out to me that I am mixing up verb tenses in my sentences. I didn't even realize I was doing it.

Can you help me figure out the right way to write this?

Option A
Yhora closed her eyes, her purple scars glowing.

Option B
Yhora closed her eyes. Her purple started to glow.

I personally prefer option A because it flows better but I think I may be mixing up present and past tense. Right?

Option A isn't mixing present and past tense. Although forms in "-ing" are often called "present participles", they in fact have no temporality associated with them. They just tell you that an action is an ongoing process (rather than an instant action or a generic truth), but they don't actually tell you, by themselves, in which reference frame the process is happening.

So "Yhora closed her eyes, her purple scars glowing." is really a shortened form of "Yhora closed her eyes, her purple scars were glowing." Both parts of the sentence are in the past tense.


Edit:

Okay cool!

Thanks for all the feedback everyone. I know that mixing "ed" and "ing" verbs in one sentence is something I do pretty frequently as a writer. (I am not sure if the specific grammatical term for this though). So I just wanted to make sure that it is grammatically sound.

Yeah this is actually normal.

Some verbs describing a state (like "be", "have", "know") form their default past tense with -ed (or the equivalent form in -n for irregular verbs). "She was an English girl, she lived in Paris, she had a dog, she knew what she wanted to do with her life".

Whereas verbs that describe an actual action form their past tense with "was/were" + "-ing" when describing an ongoing action. "She was walking down the street, she was looking for something to eat, she was wondering where to go, she was talking on the phone". But these same verbs will instead take "-ed" when describing an instant action, often as part of a narrative "She walked into the room, she looked for the light switch, she wondered why there was no electricity, she talked out loud about her frustration".

In short, the alternation of "-ed" and "-ing" form in a text in the past tense is perfectly normal and natural.
 
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