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If you’re writing a story in the past tense — as most of us do — then events and actions that took place in the past of the story go into the past perfect tense.  You know, the one with all the “haves” and “hads” in it.

If you’re writing a story in the present tense — not so common, but it happens sometimes — then you can put past events and actions into the simple past tense.

(What about all the verbs with all the “mights” and “shoulds” and “oughts” and stuff in them?  Those are the so-called modal verbs, the ones that are principally responsible for the observation that looked at one way, English only has two verb tenses, but looked at another way, it has roughly thirty-odd.  If you feel uncertain about dealing with them, your best bet is probably to find yourself a beta reader with a really good feel for language and prose style and run everything past him or her.)