1. Troy Ammons
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    Troy Ammons New Member

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    Changing Tense question - POV - chapters

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Troy Ammons, Mar 29, 2016.

    First timer, Fiction, finally, and my novel is coming along, learned a lot along the way, but I have a tense question as it applies to Chapters in general and POV.

    Basically, the story takes place over 4 days with some drifting memories back to earlier times.

    First 3 Days are the bulk of the story and Day 4 is the last chapter and climax.

    It's written in first person narrative, with only a few main characters.

    17 chapters total.

    I have been going back and forth with tense, but I finally decided to write the first chapter primarily in present tense, IE this is happening to me now, this is how I feel now etc, with a few interspersed memories going back in time, and those are written in past tense.

    Chapter 1 was written like that for the immediacy of action or at least that was the intent, IE to immediatly hook the reader into the protagonist state of mind at the peak of the story, dropping hints without giving away too much.

    So, Chapter 1 POV is present tense from the night of Day 2 as it is happening.
    IE set in the middle of the story.

    Chapters 2-16 are mostly written in past tense story telling style,

    About Chapter 8, IE the end of Day 2 is the switch where everything changes and that is the POV of Chapter 1.

    Now obviously Chapters 2-8 could be told from the POV night of Day 2, IE the same POV of Chapter 1, but that leaves me with Chapters 9-16 being told from some later POV/date, like at the end of Day 3 just before the final events of Day 4/or the last chapter.

    So...

    Everything from Chapters 2-16 could be told from some POV/time past all events up to Chapter 17.

    Or I could split and have one POV from chapter 1-8 and a 2nd POV for chapters 9-16, and then the third POV on Day 4.

    This is where I am stuck at the moment and I am not sure if it really matters, like I could just have the POV of Chapters 2-16 at some vague time beyond when all events happened like at the end of Chapter 16. But then it doesnt tie into Chapter 1 so well as it is more distant?

    Chapter 17 is the closer and I want to go back to mostly present tense again here. IE I am here and this is happening now with a few thoughts to what happened over the last few days, similar in structure to the Chapter 1

    IE

    So basically, the novel starts...Could be like...
    Chapter 1 - mostly takes place on the night of Day 2 - written mostly present tense - POV/end of Day 2
    (middle of story)
    Chapter 2-8 - mostly takes place on Day 1-2 - written mostly past tense - POV/end of Day 2
    Chapter 9-16 - mostly takes place on Day 2-3 - written mostly past tense - POV/end of Day 3
    Chapter 17 - takes place on Day 4 - written mostly present tense - POV/Day 4

    Or...
    Chapter 1 - mostly takes place on the night of Day 2 - written mostly present tense - POV/end of Day 2
    (middle of story)
    Chapter 2-16 - mostly takes place on Day 1-2 and 2-3 - written mostly past tense - POV/end of Day 3
    Chapter 17 - takes place on Day 4 - written mostly present tense - POV/Day 4

    Or does it even matter ? or should Chapters 2-16 be some vague future POV.

    Is there anything inherently wrong with either scenario above ?

    How about starting and ending chapters in present tense with past tense in the middle ? It seems to flow pretty well with the story. That is my main question BTW.


    Thanks for the patience. Being a newbi I don't know the rules of this vs that, or whats heavily frowned on etc. Talking big items.

    Also I am mostly trying to keep tense swaps to a minimum and isolated through the novel as best I can unless it is something like "That happened to me yesterday, and this is how I feel today," then I am isolating them within independent clauses.

    Its basically finished, I am just fine tuning it.

    Thanks
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    My advice: Pick one tense and stick with it.

    I realize that's a pretty curt response to all of your explanation, but that's my view. Switching tense is just not a good idea.
     
  3. Troy Ammons
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    Troy Ammons New Member

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    Understand.
    Thanks
     
  4. DueNorth
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    DueNorth Active Member

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    Agree with @ChickenFreak. Switching tense and POV -- why? I would rhink you would have to have a really good reason to do it and be extremely skilled to pull it off. Even though you are nearly done with what I assume is your first draft, the "real" writing is in revision. Maybe you have a friend or someone who can read what you have and see if they find it confusing or whether it "works." Good luck.
     
  5. Troy Ammons
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    Troy Ammons New Member

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    The Last chapter is currently written in past tense and I think I will leave it like that.

    I read through it as if written in present tense and I think it will be too awkward to revise to present tense.

    So the first chapter is now the only Chapter written as present tense, then transitions into Chapter 2 past tense.

    I wanted Chapter 1 to read immediate, like you are inside the protagonist head, like this guy is talking out of his head, or out of his mind in a direct manner.

    The lead characters reality is falling apart and he is not sure of he is insane, dreaming, dead or what. Yeah, it is one of those, and pretty complicated so I guess you could say I was trying to place the reader inside the lead character's insanity in the first chapter.

    I have had the first chapter written both ways, present tense, then past tense, then back to present, so I have driven myself crazy over the best way to present with his psychosis.

    Chapter 1 transitions into Chapter 2 with a significant event from the past so maybe it will work.

    I think I will save this Chapter 1 present tense version and rewrite a second Chapter 1 past tense version and have a couple of friends read both.

    Think I am on my 15th or so Edit - LOL.

    Thanks
     
  6. HelloImRex
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    HelloImRex Contributing Member

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    I don't think changing tense is terrible if you do it right. It is pretty hard to do right. However, this is what bothers me and its on a more basic level.

    Say your reader starts the book and really enjoys it. Then they hit the second chapter and are annoyed because they feel tricked into reading a different type of book. Then it stays that way the rest of the book. The first chapter should demonstrate the feel of the book, not be inconsistent with the rest of it. That's just playing with fire.
     
  7. Troy Ammons
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    Troy Ammons New Member

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    I see.
    Thanks
     
  8. Troy Ammons
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    Troy Ammons New Member

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    So I am convinced that Chapter 1 needs to be primarily past tense and that resolves a lot of my problems, except for part of it.

    The part that is...

    I have a block of text, about 5 paragraphs into Chapter 1 that is about 4 paragraphs long where the main character states a few philosophical ideals on life and the world etc. and that is expressed in present tense.

    If that philosophy expressed in past tense sounds odd and doesn't really work.

    For instance - and this is not from my book...
    Philosophical ideal - as if it still current > I have about 4 paragraphs that are similar.

    Should it be quoted as a thought ?

    "The characteristics of a spirit guide must be apparent without the need for microscopic inspection, and that quality should be obvious and written clearly on the jacket of the book, in plain english, to be read by any and all devoted browsers prior to purchase."
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's a fair chance that the philosophy in present tense will be just fine. The narrative tense being past tense doesn't mean that absolutely everything has to be past tense.

    Example:

    I spent all weekend searching for a blue point Siamese. Bluepoints are the best cats; all other felines are a pale imitation. By Sunday night I was willing to resort to theft.

    The narrator is relating events in the past tense, but is treating the superiority of bluepoints as a fact that is true in both past and present. So it's phrased in present tense.
     

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