1. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    Story Tense

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Leaka, Jan 2, 2008.

    I like to write in present tense, but I end up putting "was" instead of "is" in many of the sentences.
    Its because when I read it "was" sounds better then "is" at the time.
    Does anyone else do this?
    How can I correct this?
     
  2. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    There are some cases where it's okay to say was instead of is in the present tense, but mostly if you're talking about something that happened in the past. Like if the character is remembering something. But still, if "was" sounds better, examine the sentence. It may actually be right for the situation.

    The only way I can think to stop it is to just keep writing in the present tense. Eventually you'll get used to it and it'll come easily and sound natural.
     
  3. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    Well thats the problem FMK. Ever since I've been writing I write in present tense. I put "was" in the wrong sentences making people think I'm talking past tense.
    When all I like to do is write in present tense.
    "Is" and "was" are the hardest things for me because a lot of the sentences like One of them is a big pudgy man.
    "Was" sounds better.
    But I know its wrong.
     
  4. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    You could try using more metaphors in those situations as well...
     
  5. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    I see so something like instead of One of them is pudgy.
    Something like:
    The man beside him looked as if he were a pig in the his past life.

    Or something bad example, but yeah.
     
  6. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    What is your reasoning for writing in the present tense anyway?
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I generally discourage writing fiction in present tense. If you use past tense, but keep the reader closely involved in the action, it conveys the feeling of present tense. The problem is there is a long tradition of telling stories in past tense, so if the writer writes in present tense, it can distract the reader and reduce his or her incvolvement in the story:
    Both of these carry a sense of immediacy, but the first is slightly more intrusive to the reader's attention.

    Beginning writers, in particular, tend to write in present tense to emphasize a feeling of "right now." Writing the narrative in present tense, however, is usually too distracting, and the reader may feel like there is something he or she doesn't like about the style, even if unable to put a finger on the problem. A number of readers I know have reacted that way to Patricia Cornwell's The Last Precinct, which she wrote using present tense to emphasize the emotional context.
     
  8. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    I like.
    Cause it reminds me of watching a movie.

    Every time I write a story I'm not placing words on a paper like most people I'm watching a show in my head. I write in present tense because its happening right there inside my head.
    I just record what I'm seeing at the time.


    Also I have a lot of dreams that scare me. I can't remember the day because when I have a dream its like the next day. So if I was dreaming on Monday I would think it is Tuesday in my dreams.

    In my dreams I'm somebody else at the time being.
    I actually feel their pain, I move mouth, I can think the way they do, I feel their emotions sadness, fright, etc..., and I smell the smells they smell.
    Every time I dream I'm a different person.

    So of course I record it the way I saw it. Present tense.

    I hope that cleared that up and didn't make me sound like a crazy person.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you're only writing for yourself, write any way you want... but if you're writing anything for others to enjoy reading it, use past tense, or you'll annoy them more than interest them in your work...
     
  10. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    All right
    :(

    Thats another reason I don't want to write in past tense. So many people do it. I don't want to follow the norms of writing.

    I want to write for people, but I want to right against traditional ways. Its so much better that way.
    I hate following the same rule.

    We've read so many story's in the past. Can't we rewrite that.
     
  11. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sometimes people do something because it's the best way to do it. You wouldn't disapprove of wearing clothing just because so many people did people you, right?
     
  12. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    That would silly.

    But its writing.
    Writing is my passion and I love the way I write. I think it adds more to the story when its present tense.

    I want to write stories in present tense because I want people to get sucked into the book and say this is happening right now. This happening in a world that I do not know.
    Or even get sucked into New York.

    I wish people had more imagination cause when I read books I see a movie and I absorb the movie.

    The only problem is its written in past tense.
    That makes me feel like I wish this could happen.

    No I want to write so that it could happen.
     
  13. Klee
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    Klee Contributing Member

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    Your editor might ask you to though.

    Reading is becoming a dying habit, it's more likely that you'll have to adjust to the majority. But if that's the way you wanna do it, go right ahead, it's not like we can really stop you.

    In an off-topic and slightly personal note, why ever do you have a fanart of Belphegor as your avatar? Or did you just randomly choose it?
     
  14. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    I'll start writing past tense.
    I already have one story written in past tense its called Legend of Grave.

    Off-topic: My online friend gave it to me. I liked it because he's a guy wearing a tiara and thats how I feel some times. Some times I want to leave my house with a tiara on and flaunt my flamboyantly skinny butt.
    But I'm to shy for that so the avatar can reflect my inner most desire.
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Please don't take offense, but I have heard this same exact argument from many, many new writers, and specifically over the same issue of writing in present tense.

    There is a reason for the traditional ways - they work.

    The thing about breaking rules is it's most effective when you know the rules and understand working within them. Picasso didn't start out painting distorted faces; he learned, like other artists, the fundamentals of conventional painting first.

    And when you do decide to break the rules, break one at a time. That's called an experiment, and you can learn more from the failure of an experiment than you can from its success. Failure is the more likely outcome, so you can indeed learn much from experimentation.

    The way to make your writing unique is not to muck with the rudiments. Uniqueness comes from interesting stories and memorable characters.

    Honestly, writing in present tense isn't a breakout move. It's treading a well worn path that is mostly avoided by more experienced writers for good cause.
     
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  16. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    All right.
    I understand.
    I'll didn't take this as offense I took more as advice. And I understand.
     
  17. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Leaka,

    I think you've received some good advice. Trust your readers and their imagination...they have to have it. You won't be able to describe everything anyway.

    It's just as easy to transcribe the movie in your mind as it 'happened' as easily as transcribing it as if it's 'just happening'.

    Writing in present tense, for a first novel, is more challenging and also will add an additional hurdle to cross when trying to find a publisher for your first book. Can it be done? Yes. Are there examples, yes? I could name them--even one in first person present tense. But I could name far far more that did it writing in the 'traditional' third person past tense.

    Hang in there and keep moving forward!

    Terry
     
  18. mercy
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    mercy Senior Member

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    You say you like it because it reminds you of watching a movie. Have you ever tried writing movie scripts, or plays. Maybe your mind is better suited for that type of writing.

    To be candid, I hate reading anything written in the present tense.
     

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