1. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    character thoughts in present tense??

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Tesoro, May 21, 2012.

    My friend is reading my current novel and giving me feedback on it. One thing she said was that I switched to a different tense in a character thought. The novel is written in past tense, but the character thought is in present, in this case. Just like if she would have said it out loud. Something like this:
    This guy doesn't....., she thought. He is just like..... (sorry, I didn't want to use the exact sentence and my imagination is low at this time of the day)
    (It's NOT written in italics, by the way, It was just to separate the example from my question.)
    Is this wrong? We seem to disagree on this, because I thought it was ok. It feels like if I would change the thoughts to past it would also change the meaning, like it's something that he Used to be, but isn't anymore.
    What is right and what is wrong here?
     
  2. indy5live
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    indy5live Active Member

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    Someone is narrating a story that has already happened, thus, I would assume, all their thoughts have also already happened. "What should I make for dinner?" she thought. Not, "What should I make for dinner?" she thinks.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The tense in your example is fine. Your friend soesn;'t umderstand the difference between grammatical tense and narrative tense. Your story is written in past narrative tense, but that does not mean evey single verb will be in past tense. (The tense of individual verbs is grammatical tense). Your character was literally thinking in present tense, therefore the quoted thought is in present tense. However, the tag ("she thought") is action in "story time", so it is past tense.
     
  4. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ah, thank you for explaining. Here comes the issue of narrative vs grammatical tense again! :)
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    cog is right, you were right...

    indy... the thoughts can't go in "" which are used only when the dialog is spoken aloud...
     

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