1. silverfall
    Offline

    silverfall New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2010
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0

    Which tense do you use?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by silverfall, Dec 21, 2010.

    This is something I could never make my mind about.

    Is it more effective to use Present or Past tense when writing a story? Also which is more commonly used.

    I kind of like Present better but I'm not sure if it would be more effective to use the Past.
     
  2. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    Most people use past - I tend to use it for historical works, general fiction etc.

    My first story was about a 17 year old boy and present tense portrayed him better. Do what works for your story but be aware some people have a prejudice and won't read something in present tense.
     
  3. jo spumoni
    Offline

    jo spumoni Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    Messages:
    392
    Likes Received:
    20
    Location:
    La Jolla, CA (and Mission Viejo, CA, during the su
    Both tenses can be effective. Past seems to come more naturally to a lot of people, and it does enable for slightly more perspective in the novel; for instance, you comment on things in retrospect and understand their significance. But with present tense, you can really get into the moment and the description can feel all the more vivid because of it.

    Past is more commonly used, but not ridiculously so. There are plenty of books that have used present tense effectively, including Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes.

    For my part, I've tried both past and present, but I work best with past. I have trouble making present flow correctly, or something. But I don't mind reading things in present. I think both could work; it's just kind of up to you.
     
  4. Jonalexher
    Offline

    Jonalexher Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2010
    Messages:
    219
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    California
    Third person past tense is the one used the most. You'll see it in the majority of popular novels these days.

    Example:
    Zack never really liked any conflict, he tried to avoid anything that could lead to it. But sometimes, he couldn't.
    "Hey..." said Zack without making eye contact as he exited the arena, "didn't expect to see you here."
     
  5. Klogg
    Offline

    Klogg Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2010
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Idaho
    I write in past tense. I started a story earlier today, attempting to use the present tense. I got about 3 paragraphs into it before I went back and changed it to past. It was too difficult. Or at least, too much of a change from what I've done for years.

    From the beginning of storytelling history, it's been told in past tense. Troubadours told stories of things that have happened. The present tense would mean they are acting out the story at that moment. If the story is about the speaker themselves it raises the question,"How can you be doing what you say, you're sitting right here telling a story?"

    If the speaker is relating the experience of another, it's "How do you know what he's doing 60 leagues away when you're sitting here telling a story?"

    Stories are by nature an account of what has already passed. It is only in the relatively recent past that present tense has become an accepted practice.
     
  6. Reggie
    Offline

    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2010
    Messages:
    680
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    USA
    I tend to write in the present tense, but the critiques here who viewed my novel rather for me to write in the past tense. I really don't see why writing in the present tense is bad. If it works for me, then why not choose present tense?
     
  7. Jonalexher
    Offline

    Jonalexher Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2010
    Messages:
    219
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    California

    If it flows nice, and you can get a compelling story across to us, then I see nothing wrong with it :]
     

Share This Page