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Hi all!

This question emegred in my mind long ago, but somehow I forgot it for about 3 years, and now I ran into it again.

It's about the Past Perfect tense and backshifting.

Here is an example (the narration is conducted in Past Simple).

«... and she told me her story. Her name was Lisa Taylor and she had (1) been born on planet Diso. Her mother and father had (2) been killed a fight against an armada of Targon ships when she was (3) a little girl. After the parents' death Lisa's grandfather took (4) her on his ship. He had (5) been a very famous and rich trader...»

On one hand in all cases (1) - (5) Past Perfect should be used. But what if the story goes on and on, throughout several chapters? I suppose there should be a way to switch back to Past Simple at some point, though I have no idea of this point and the way it can be done.

So how to avoid using Past Perfect in this story-inside-a-story case?

Thanks in advance for your help!
Comments  
Why do you want to avoid it?
It's kind of like knowing, in sonata form, exactly when you've arrived at the secondary key and can start your second theme! It's a matter of artistry, not science! I'd say just shift from past perfect to simple past whenever it "feels right" -- probably the sooner, the better. Or, don't use the past perfect at all, even at the beginning of the story-inside-a-story. Emotion: smile

CJ
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Thank you, CalifJim.

I was looking at the Arkansas Weekly that is online and in it, an article under the name of "All Over the Map" written by Bob Grace, dated March 7, 2007, I saw this writing.

... It was all I could do but watch and pray for this not to happen.

Sure enough, right before the car waiting to turn into Burger King 1) would have been bashed in the rear, the elderly driver swerved to the right, directly toward Lady Liberty. At the last second, the women seemed to see the the Statue and quickly cut back slightly to the left before jumping the curb of the parking lot -- just past our Lady.

By now, some drivers 2) had lined up behind me, waiting for me to turn. Harrison was clear both ways, and as I collected myself and relaxed ...

For me, there are two transitional marking points: the first one is the one marked "1" with a modal 'would' that expresses an event in the past, encompassing an event before an event also; and the second marking point is the one marked "2" and with the past perfect tense 'had lined up'.

As you seemed to have noted in your response to the previous post, the shifting of tenses seemed to have been done in an 'artistry' manner, very much following the whims of the person, and all the shifting could have been done differently by a different person, assuming all are done in a grammatically correct way.
Anonymousthe first one is the one marked "1" with a modal 'would' that expresses an event in the past, encompassing an event before an event also; and the second marking point is the one marked "2" and with the past perfect tense 'had lined up'.
There is no switch in tense there. They are both past perfect. The difference between the two is that the former is passive voice conditional past perfect while the latter is plain old vanilla active voice past perfect.
The example isn't really a story-within-a-story, though. It's a story in the simple past, with two digressions -- one to explain what could have happened "in a different world", another to explain what had already happened "in parallel time" with the main events of the story. These two digressions are expressed with "dependent tenses". They are dependent on the point of view (past) already established by the main line of the story. They are both, in a way, parenthetical to the main sequence of events (especially the first, with its counterfactual).

Main narrative in the past.
Counterfactual posterior to the past,
i.e., future (of the past) that did not happen.
Anterior to the past, i.e., past of the past.


... It was all I could do but watch and pray for this not to happen.

Sure enough, right before the car waiting to turn into Burger King 1) would have been bashed in the rear, the elderly driver swerved to the right, directly toward Lady Liberty. At the last second, the women seemed to see the the Statue and quickly cut back slightly to the left before jumping the curb [and then jumped the curb] of the parking lot -- just past our Lady.
By now [by this time-point in the narrative], some drivers 2) had [already] lined up behind me, waiting for me to turn. Harrison was clear both ways, and as I collected myself and relaxed ...

was.......swerved.....seemed ....... cut back ...........
\ ...would have been bashed
(under certain conditions which did not apply)


................ jumped.........was...collected ... relaxed
had lined up ........../
(as the main events were happening)


CJ
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Bokeh: «Why do you want to avoid it?»

Well, would a story read fine if it all consisted of Past Perfect sentences?

CJ:
Thank you very much for help!

You mentioned a term "digression", I think it can be treated as a tiny story inside a story. And when it's tiny, there's no need to avoid Past Perfect. Do I get it right?
I've never heard this "tiny story" theory, but it seems all right to me, especially if it makes sense to you. Emotion: smile
I don't think there is usually any need to avoid the past perfect (except in very extensive stretches of a story within a story), so I don't see the need here either.

CJ