1. BonanzaFan2011
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    BonanzaFan2011 Member

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    How To Write In Past and Present Tense

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by BonanzaFan2011, Apr 16, 2011.

    Hey guys,
    I've taken the plunge and have started to write my first fan fic. I have a beta reader and she is teaching me between the past and present tense. I write then send to her what I have written and Im still confused about this past and present usage of words such as have, had was, is etc. I read it out aloud and it sounds alright to me and I still get it wrong.

    Is there a thread on here explaining how to get it right?
    Would appreciate any help.

    Thank you in advance.
     
  2. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    my mind creates in present tense, however past tense reads better, i keep reminding my self this just happened a second ago, i was really bad at tense hoping...i now make sure i write my notes in past tense ....i would hop tense 5 times in a 60 word sentence
     
  3. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    I learned by doing, I posted here my content never got considered until I corrected the tense jumping....pain was worth the gain type thing.....verbally we use wrong tense all the time...............good luck
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There are many threads in General Writing that deal with the choice of narrative tense. First, make sure you understand the difference between grammatical tense and narrative tense.

    Grammatical tense is a characteristic of each verb or verb phrase. There are dozens of grammatical tenses, with names like past tense, present tense, past perfect tense, past progressive tense, and so on. Ot isn't always necessary to know the names of these tenses, but you have to understand the differences in meaning conveyed by each.

    Narrative tense is, in a way, simpler. It is either past or present. Future narrative tense is possible in theory, but a bit silly unless you are a soothsayer relating a story that will happen someday.

    In a passage written in one narrative tense of the other, you can have a mixtire of any or all grammatical tenses, but the primary action verbs of the narrative will have a present or a past form, characterizing whether the narrative tells events that happened, or events that are happening.

    Past narrative tense can lag relative to now anywhere from millenia to femtoseconds, whereas present narrative tense is lockstepped to the moment. This makes a past narrative tense generally more flexible. A present narrative tense is more difficult, but is currently popular among some authors. Personally, I would avoid it in nearly all cases because of its inflexibility with regard to pace.

    See also: What's Your Point (of View)?
     
  5. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    Xavier sees Katrina returning and, in his excitement, twisted his ankle rather badly. His sister calls the doctor immediately.

    In the above example, the verb "twisted" is the only verb that appears in the past tense. It should appear in the present tense, "twists," or the other verbs should be changed to the past tense as well. Switching verb tenses upsets the time sequence of narration.


    Xavier saw Katrina returning and, in his excitement, twisted his ankle rather badly. His sister called the doctor immediately.past tense

    Xavier sees Katrina returning and, in his excitement, twists his ankle rather badly. His sister calls the doctor immediately.present tense
     
  6. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Don't see how it's any sillier than any of the other narrative tenses. I mean, it's not like if you write a story in the past tense that means it actually occurred at some point in our own space-time continuum, right? It's just a vehicle to deliver a story. It's not the best, imo, but that doesn't mean it's silly (they're all silly, really) nor does it have anything to do with the writer being a soothsayer, just as the writer who writes in past tense isn't an historian, nor the writer who writers in present tense actually observing anything actually happening in that moment. It's all just fiction.

    Or maybe I'm just sensitive because I hope my future tense story is a big hit. I want to use first person, future tense, because the guy can in fact see his own future. And, so, instead of a reminiscent narrator (the narrator in the narrative present tense telling you about things that occurs in the past) I'll use a prophetical narrator, one who is in the present tense telling of things yet to happen.

    And yes, just because I'm joking doesn't mean future tense is anything but another tool in the suitcase (I keep my tools in a small suitcase I've had since I was a child, doesn't everyone?)
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The confusion that can easily arise is thinking that every single verb must be in the same tense family.

    Starting with Killian's example, fixed to all present tense:
    Consider a slight variation:
    This is still well anchored in present tense, despite verbs in past tense (returned) and future tense (will be, will arrive)

    [Actually, has returned is present perfect tense, but it could easily have been past perfect: Xavier sees Katrina had returned hours ago and had set the table for dinner.]

    The reason it works is that all the principal action -- Xavier sees, he twists, his sister calls -- is in present tense forms.
     
  8. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    The first post mentioned something to the effective that a beta reader still points out they are getting it wrong. The is a possibilty that the beta reader has a belief that every verb has to be changed, not just the action verbs as explained in post 7, that is the cool thing about a second, third and twenty third pair of eyes.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Still, it is rather disturbing when all those eyes are in the same umm...head.

    Killian makes a good point. Beta readers, or even professional editors, can give poor advice, or advice that is just not right for you. For that reason, it's important to understand the reasoning behind the advice, so you can intelligently decide whether or not to take it. You can't even count on sheer numbers to help you make the choice. Sometimes you can only accumulate experience.
     
  10. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    “El Padre, El Hijo y el Espíritu Santo….I promise not to laugh." He drew his fingers across his chest as if pledging to whatever deity may be passing overhead. Paul blessed himself in the same manner he has used when making a promise since he was a boy in Havana.

    The boy looked over both shoulders, his eyes shifting the street to confirm no one else was within earshot. " Xavier, sir, my name's Xavier, well- My name is, Francis Xavier Battle, but please don't call me Francis sir ."

    Although his ascent as a businessman had rendered his musical aspirations a low priority for the last three decades, Paul Concepion, still loved song.



    Did I mess up ?
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Not in verb tenses, with the possible exception of:
    It's not absolutely wrong, but past perfect would be a better choice here than present perfect:
    This is not a critique thread, though, so other mistakes in the passage are very much off topic.
     
  12. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    gotcha, thanks ..please y'all no reviews .....has used-had used I am still making those errors
     
  13. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    This is wrong ?


    Raising a hand to shield the sun Paul asked, “What happened?”
     
  14. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    I can do the below without getting a fine from Miss Crabapple ?


    “Pardon me, by the tracks?” A confused Paul asked a fellow parishioner resembling Albert Einstein, the man's white hair electric.


    Expelling a stream of expletives, annoyance flaring from her widened nostrils, mahogany forearms covered in flour Angel Washington waddled out of the bakery.
     

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