1. Hannibal Alexander
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    Hannibal Alexander Senior Member

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    Chosing a Tense?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Hannibal Alexander, May 14, 2013.

    just curious...
    how do you all go about deciding which tense to use for your stories!?

    i think it's more of my subconcious nerves, but right now i'm having a little trouble deciding if it should be 1st, 2nd or 3rd person and just wondering if this even crosses your minds and what the thought process is in deciding.
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I think you're confusing tense (past, present, future) and point of view (1st, 2nd, 3rd person).
     
  3. jeepea
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    jeepea Member

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    As thirdwind said, I think your question was about point of view or POV.

    The choice of POV is entirely at your discretion. It's usually a combination of how comfortable you feel in writing from a particular POV and what is the best POV to present you story. If your story will have many characters and be large in scope, then you may want to use 3rd person omniscient where you can see into the minds of all of the characters and can move from one to the other, usually by chapter. If your story has one main character and you want the story to be seen through that character's eyes, then you may want to use 3rd person limited or 1st person. 2nd person POV is rarely used and not recommended.

    Search this site and the internet to find out more about point of view.
     
  4. Somnus
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    Somnus Member

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    I usually go by instinct - it feels more natural to refer to some characters as 'he/she' than 'I', while some may suffer the reverse problem. I've never been tempted to use the 'You' pronoun, on the other hand.
    To address your side/mistaken question about verb tenses, the same logic applies. Past or present, the story decides. If I fight my first reaction and try to write in another PoV or verb tense, it won't be long before my attention falters and I unconsciously lapse back into the ''correct'' mode of writing.
     
  5. The Peanut Monster
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    The Peanut Monster Senior Member

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    I wonder if there is a tendency for beginner writers to prefer 1st person because that feels most natural? I have certainly found that breaking into 3rd person is more difficult as I feel that it distances me from the story/characters.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I have seen that tendency among new writer, but I believe it's a mistake. What seems easier is because they aren't doing it well. They focus too much on the main character rather than what is going on around him or her. To write first person well, you should master and apply the techniques of third person writing.
     
  7. Hannibal Alexander
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    Hannibal Alexander Senior Member

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    you are absolutely right!!!!
    geez i can't even write a small post w/o effing it up!!!
    yeah... i'm talking about POV and not at all tense. sorry
     
  8. Hannibal Alexander
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    Hannibal Alexander Senior Member

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    this is exactly why i posted this.
    I have been writing my story in 1st person, and it just doesn't feel like the best decision... it doesn't seem original enough. plus i don't want it to be TOTALLY just all in his head. but I just can't really figure out another way to go about it.
     
  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    A guy walks into a psychiatrist's office and says, "I keep having the same two dreams - in one, I'm a teepee, in the other I'm a wigwam. What's wrong with me?"

    The psychiatrist says, "You're too tents."
     
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  10. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    This is an interesting question. While there is a lot of artistic decision-making required in this choice, I can't help but think there are some solid guidelines to consider. I'm looking forward to reading what others think.

    What is the focus of your story? Is it your character and how s/he reacts to the plot and setting? Then it should probably be first person. Is it the plot, where the characters are of secondary importance? Then it should probably be third. It's probably never going to be this cut-and-dry, though. Characters and plot are both important, just to different degrees. It's a spectrum of importance. To accommodate this, there are degrees of PoV: omniscient, limited, and objective. If character and plot have about the same importance, third limited might be the right route. If plot is a lot more important, third objective might be the right route. If characters are a lot more important, third omniscient might be the way to go. Also, the amount of characters you plan on using and focusing on can shift you from third to first or omniscient to limited or objective. If you have one main character and their inner thoughts, their experiences, are important, first person is probably best.

    I'm just thinking through this as I type, more or less, so I could be off my rocker. I'm also rather tired so I apologize if I'm incoherent. I'm trying to make sense. :)
     

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