1. Apollypopping

    Apollypopping Member

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    Past or present tense?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Apollypopping, Apr 6, 2017.

    Which do you prefer?
     
  2. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    Neither. I'm a future tense elitist.

    Nah, actually neither because I don't have a preference. I don't find that it usually had much impact on the story. Theoretically something written in present tense could have a more immediate, tense (I mean, um, you know) tone, but in reality I don't think I really even notice what tense something is written in, so long as it's written well.
     
  3. Apollypopping

    Apollypopping Member

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    For curiosities sake I'd love to see this done.

    I keep flip flopping between the two 'tenses' and it's causing me mental harm. I'll do said and says (example) In one sentence and do a mental cartwheel.

    'WTF is wrong with you just pick a tense!!'
     
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  4. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    I sometimes slip into present when I've been trying to write in past, but I don't think I've ever flipped between them. It's so disorienting to proofread something and suddenly it's in a different tense, hahah.
     
  5. Apollypopping

    Apollypopping Member

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    It's a new thing for me, I've always done past tense. All of the sudden my brain wants present tense 10k words into my WIP.
     
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  6. animagus_kitty

    animagus_kitty Senior Member

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    The past, the present, and the future walk into a bar.
    It was tense.


    Having said that. I've only read one book written in present tense, and boy was it a trip. I can't recall now what it was, because it was years and the plot was forgettable. I can't imagine myself writing in present tense, but I would think it would add a certain...urgency? to everything.

    *ten minutes later*
    I briefly played around with present tense for one of my chapters, and this is what I've decided.
    First of all, a scene cannot be translated directly from past tense into present. It presents...some oddities in phrasing that no respectable writer would be alright with publishing.
    Secondly, the whole feel of the chapter had to change. I had to go from third person to first person, but YMMV. It went from feeling like watching a movie, to telling a campfire story, almost. I felt closer to my character's thoughts, writing in present tense, but I'm not sure that I could stand to write the whole book like that.
    Thirdly...there is no thirdly.
     
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  7. Apollypopping

    Apollypopping Member

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    Haha!


    I probably do switch to present tense more often when my characters are being a bit introspective. Or when the scene is tense.
     
  8. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I hate present tense with a fiery passion.

    With first person and third person, I can be reasonable--I prefer third, but first is a perfectly reasonable choice. I can weigh the pros and cons.

    Present tense? Nuke it from orbit.
     
  9. Apollypopping

    Apollypopping Member

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    That's what I figure! But it keeps happening to me. Like a fungal infection.
     
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  10. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Some people do like it; it seems to be increasingly popular. I don't know if it's going to be a fashion thing and go away in a decade, or if it will stick around in some genres.
     
  11. Apollypopping

    Apollypopping Member

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    Hey that might explain it. Maybe I'm evolving.

    Or mutating.
     
  12. ajaye

    ajaye Senior Member

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    I had a phase with my short short stories where I couldn't seem to write anything but first person present. Have flipped back to past tense for now but tend to stay in first person. Which ever way the story starts out I usually stick to. But now I'm thinking about it I might aim to do something soon in third, just to keep the wheels grinding.
     
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  13. Apollypopping

    Apollypopping Member

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    Maybe I should whip out a short story in present tense.
     
  14. ajaye

    ajaye Senior Member

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    Yes! But don't tell the chicken.
     
  15. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Sums up my thoughts too.

    Present tense feels flat and sucks all the tension from a piece. Don't know why that is, but I've always experienced it when reading present tense. Even before I knew what present tense was...
     
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  16. ChaseTheSun

    ChaseTheSun Senior Member

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    I hadn't written a word in past tense for almost a decade. And then my WIP happened. And the bloody thing absolutely refuses to be written in present tense. Shifting gears into past tense has been a mammoth effort and I'm still catching myself, 14k in, occasionally slipping into present. But apparently this book needs to be written in past. And we all know who's the boss in the writer/book relationship.

    In terms of what I prefer to read, I honestly think it depends on the book. Some are excellent in past, some are breathtaking in present. Both tenses serve very different purposes to create very different atmospheres within a book.
     
  17. Apollypopping

    Apollypopping Member

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    I'll write it by hand (No chance of duplicates,) and hide it under my bed.
     
  18. Apollypopping

    Apollypopping Member

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    Me too!

    Aint that the truth. My WIP is trying really hard to be present tense. I feel like I'm smacking a child's hand every time I retype 'Says.'
     
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  19. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Yep. Yep. As a newly-reading kindergartener, I hated Babar.
     
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  20. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    [​IMG]
     
  21. Apollypopping

    Apollypopping Member

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    Or keep it in a secret notebook under my bed?
     
  22. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Think of the poor trees... dying, just to store notes in present tense...
     
  23. Apollypopping

    Apollypopping Member

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    God you're right I really do value life.
     
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  24. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    This is one of those questions that go into the same category with:

    Pepsi or Coke?
    XBox or Playstation?
    Manual stick or automatic?
    Apples or oranges?
    PC or Mac?
    Baseball or basketball?
    Spit or swallow?
    Pineapples or no pineapples on pizza?
    Coffee or tea?
    Marvel or DC?

    Some writers want to fling present tense into the moon, some want to write everything in it, and many write in both (myself included). It might come down to the type of story you're writing. For me, writing in present tense, especially first person present, works best for contemporary stuff while it doesn't feel right to write e.g. hack'n slash fantasy in present tense. (having said that, the only MS I have in present tense is horrid. Not sure if it's because of the tense...)

    Would it help you to stay in one tense if while you write your WIP, you only read books that are written in the same tense?
     
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  25. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Short story challenge: Second person present progressive!!!!!!!!!!!!!

     

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