1. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    'Tomorrow' Vs 'The following day'

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by OurJud, Sep 17, 2016.

    I don't know if there's a term for this, but how do people feel about the use of 'tomorrow' in past tense narratives?

    I want to get over my hang-up and use it, as I see it so often in other works, but I always go back and change it to 'the following/next day'.

    Here's why.

    If I'm telling someone a story in the traditional past tense manner, I wouldn't say, '.... everyone else was due to arrive tomorrow...' I would say, '... everyone else was due to arrive the next day...'

    So what's my problem you may be asking. Well, sometimes I find myself automatically writing 'tomorrow' because it sounds so natural, and it's only my hang-up with past tense 'rules' that make me go back and change it. Also, even a past tense narrative can often read as though the events are happening right there and then, at 'that' moment in time.

    It's one of those daft cases where I have no problem reading it, but can't bring myself to use it.
     
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  2. christinacantwrite
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    christinacantwrite Member

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    I'm not comfortable with using 'tomorrow' in past tense either, it just feels like a present tense word to me. We might be overthinking it!
     
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  3. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Me? Overthink? Never!

    'Now' is another one, but more easily avoided.
     
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  4. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This is something I think about as well. :)

    I'll happily use it in dialogue:

    "Will you come with me tomorrow?"

    Or narration if it's clearly the character's thoughts:

    What was tomorrow going to bring?

    But if it's more author narration, then it feels wrong:

    Little did she know what tomorrow would bring.
     
  5. Scot
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    Scot Active Member

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    Little did she know what the following day would bring. Got to agree, that 'reads' better. I don't think the use of tomorrow is technically wrong, but perhaps a more competent grammarian will be along to correct me.
     
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  6. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm with you guys. I don't like it.

    I've had editors change my words to "tomorrow" or similar things and I grit my teeth and go with it, but I really don't like it. I think it depends on the narrative voice, somehow, and how that voice is placed in time...?
     
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  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    That's a good question. Obviously the context will matter, but I'd probably go for 'the following day' or 'the next day' if I was in narration mode. (Different if the character was thinking or speaking the word.) Ditto 'yesterday.' I'd probably say 'the day before.'
     
  8. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    Seems to be little in the way of dissent in this thread so you're all wrong and have no idea what you're talking about.

    I have the same problem with "tomorrow" and "now". This thread has been very helpful, actually. :)
     
  9. Scot
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    Scot Active Member

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    If today is only yesterday's tomorrow, then tomorrow must be yesterday's day after next. Q.E.D.
     
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  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, 'now' is another one. However, I don't find that one as problematic, for some reason. It seems to work pretty well in all tenses. How else would you get the concept of 'now' across, without resorting to 'at the present time' or 'at that moment' or some other such verbal boulder?
     
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  11. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Creeps, in it's petty pace, from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time, lighting fools the way to dusty death ...out, out brief candle....
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2016
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  12. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Bit of a tangent, but we seem to have solved the main thread question anyway so...

    I had a beta reader on my second novel who highlighted "Later that evening" and commented "There must be another way to say this without that APPALLING transition." I could never work out what was so appalling about it!
     
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  13. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    Usually, I just cut the word to get around it, rather than rephrasing it. But that doesn't always work. In the cases where I can't lose it, I leave it and glare at it until it quivers in fear.
     
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  14. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    I see nothing wrong with "Later that evening" but that's just me. I think those are the phrases that are invisible to most readers. But we writers stress over them. Same could be said for all of the words in question in this thread, I think.

    But I could be wrong.
     
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  15. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Nobody else commented and I didn't change it... mostly because how else WOULD you say it? :S
     
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  16. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    "There was a gap in time of exactly four hours, twelve minutes and twenty seconds before..."

    That might be a little less clunky and appalling. :geek:
     
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  17. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    This sums up my thoughts on it. If I'm writing in Close Third Person, I'll say "tomorrow" or "yesterday" or whatever term the POV character would use in his or her own head. I mean, today is Saturday the 17th, and if I was thinking about something I did on Friday the 16th, I would not think, "I got that done the day before." It'd be, "I did that yesterday."

    But if it's general narration, no, "the day before" would be the way to go.

    The issue one has when writing Close Third is whether any general narration at all is allowable. I had a beta reader flag a place where my POV character is thinking "tomorrow" and the beta thought it should be "the next day." I can understand why she noted it, because the thought is indirect. But I think I'll leave it as it is, to keep the reader in the character's head regardless.
     
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  18. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    I think it depends how closely your voice is sticking to your POV. In close 3rd more often than not you will be speaking with the voice of your character. In such a voice, the use of 'the following day' would set the action at a one remote and you don't want that. You want to stick the reader in the head of your character. Your MC is the centre of the universe, and all actions should be seen from his POV. 'Tomorrow' emphasises that your MC is the focus, as 'the next day' would not.

    But if, for example, you write more distantly, the use of 'the next day' is perfectly fine and I even think it would be preferable to 'tomorrow' going by your example.
     
  19. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's not so much this, more that I write in first-person.
     
  20. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    First person present, or first person past?

    If present, use "tomorrow." "Tomorrow I'm going to have it out with that bum if it's the last thing I do."

    If past, off the top of my head I'm thinking, go with "the next (or following) day." "The next day I had it out with that bum, though I knew ahead of time he might beat me within an inch of my life."

    I mean, in first person past narration, the POV character has no more tomorrows. All his tomorrows are now yesterdays. Which, since I just scrolled up and saw that your WIP is in past tense, would apply.

    That said, if it's a direct quotation (voiced or unvoiced), use "tomorrow."

    It all depends on where we are in time with the POV character. This raises the fact that in an odd way, 3rd person past has the effect of present tense, since we're living the story along with the POV character. While with 1st person past, the story is over and done and here we are with the 1st person narrator, having her tell us what happened.
     
  21. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh, it's not that I don't understand the concept of a past tense narrative, my point is that I've seen 'tomorrow' and 'now' used frequently in a first-person past tense narrative and it never bothers me. I just wondered if others had the same issues when writing from this POV, and it seems the majority do.
     
  22. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    In the example you gave here, you could go either way. "Tomorrow" is a little tighter than "the following day" or "the next day." Personally, I would probably go with "tomorrow." Someone recently told me to tighten up my writing with one of my stories and this is the kind of thing that can help the language feel tighter. But it's not like you can or can't use either one. Like you, I see it all the time in writing. Same with "now." I've never been bothered by it or had a problem using it.
     
  23. Shnette
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    Shnette Member

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    Total agreement. The hang up I have is over use of those phrases makes me feel like an amateur writer. Those phrases look fine in a comic strip, but in a narrative I get mad when I can't find better descriptive words.
     
  24. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    I get neurotic about this stuff too. Don't think it bothers me when I read though; there's usually no confusion because of context. Also, considering @BayView 's comment about voice being placed in time, I wonder if it's easier to get away with in stories where it's never revealed at what point the narrator is speaking in past tense from (i.e. where the narrative is more like a disembodied voice that likes past tense than a character who is actually reflecting on the past). Overall, I avoid 'tomorrow', etc, but don't lose sleep over it.

    It was probably the quotation marks around it. She hated how you suddenly had some character acting as compere for the story. Not into meta. (Lame single vs double Q-marks joke... made lamer by explanation.)
     
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  25. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    For what it's worth, I don't think I'd have the same attitude to the use of 'tomorrow' if I wrote in 3rd person.
     

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