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Over the last four hours I jotted half a page of one line story ideas, none of which warranted a second line, the bottom half of the page had descended into a doodle of a tiny man giving the middle finger to a giant eagle with razor sharp tallons, beneath it the caption, to mock a killingbird. Sadly this was the best idea I'd had in weeks.

Please explain to me how the past perfect tense works in this paragraph. Thank you.

I don't see how it follows the past perfect tense rule.
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To be completely consistent, I think it should be "Over the last four hours I had jotted ..."
PreciousJonesPlease explain to me how the past perfect tense works in this paragraph.
In the first case it focuses the reader at a time in the past, but not so far in the past as the "descent into a doodle", which occurred before the time of focus.
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The last sentence is a purely formulaic use of the perfect after a superlative.

This is the best idea I have had in weeks.
backshifts to
This was the best idea I had had in weeks.

Similarly,

That car is the most expensive we have ever bought.

That car was the most expensive we had ever bought.

That is the only movie he's seen in the last three months.
That was the only movie he'd seen in the previous three months.

Transfigured Night is the most beautiful piece of music I have ever heard.
Transfigured Night was the most beautiful piece of music I had ever heard.

CJ
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CalifJimIn the first case it focuses the reader at a time in the past, but not so far in the past as the "descent into a doodle", which occurred before the time of focus.
When do you think the jotting finished?
Mr WordyWhen do you think the jotting finished?
You've got me there. I avoided any mention of that weird part in my answer, concentrating on how the past perfect is generally used in those sorts of situations (when there are no anomalies to contend with).

Over the last four hours I jotted half a page of one line story ideas ...

The word "last" is what bothers me. It makes it sound as if the narrative takes place in present time, but "jotted" is past, of course. It seems to me that either of these below would be less strange, and that only the second one sanctions the use of the past perfect later in the sentence.

Over the last four hours I have jotted ...

Over/For four hours I jotted ...

CJ
CalifJimwhen there are no anomalies to contend with
CalifJimIt seems to me that either of these below would be less strange
Right... if you're saying you think there's something not exactly right with the text as posted, I agree.
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CalifJimThe last sentence is a purely formulaic use of the perfect after a superlative.

This is the best idea I have had in weeks.
backshifts to
This was the best idea I had had in weeks.

Similarly,

That car is the most expensive we have ever bought.

That car was the most expensive we had ever bought.

That is the only movie he's seen in the last three months.
That was the only movie he'd seen in the previous three months.

Transfigured Night is the most beautiful piece of music I have ever heard.
Transfigured Night was the most beautiful piece of music I had ever heard.
Hi CaliJim,

All of these have uses of the past perfect but none of them describe a past occurrence of another past event. I'm really not getting it.
PreciousJones
CalifJimThe last sentence is a purely formulaic use of the perfect after a superlative.

This is the best idea I have had in weeks.
backshifts to
This was the best idea I had had in weeks.

Similarly,

That car is the most expensive we have ever bought.

That car was the most expensive we had ever bought.

That is the only movie he's seen in the last three months.
That was the only movie he'd seen in the previous three months.

Transfigured Night is the most beautiful piece of music I have ever heard.
Transfigured Night was the most beautiful piece of music I had ever heard.
Hi CaliJim,

All of these have uses of the past perfect but none of them describe a past occurrence of another past event. I'm really not getting it.

Could someone please explain to me why all the sentences above using past perfect are proper grammar when it doesn't precede before a sequence of past events? Thank you.

They're just regular sentences with past perfect usage.
PreciousJonesAll of these have uses of the past perfect but none of them describe a past occurrence of another past event.
Yes, because the sentences with the past perfect shown there are about the absence of any similar past event. This is another way that the perfect tenses are used.

That was the only movie he had seen in the previous three months.
= At that time (in the past) he had not seen any other movie.

Here you're doing a count of movies seen from some time farther in the past to some time not so far in the past. The two times are three months apart.
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That car was the most expensive we had ever bought.
= At that time (in the past), we had not bought any car that was more expensive than that one.

Here you're doing a price check on all cars bought from very far in the past (the beginning of time) to some time not so far in the past.

CJ
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