Fang Talks

#YOLO
05 05 13

So tense

And that’s the only pun in this entire post, I promise.

Tenses, the grammatical ones. They’re pretty much in any language in some form, as far as I’m aware, and usually play a pretty big role in sentences, or more broadly, storytelling. For a non-native speaker, tenses in and of themselves can be pretty hard, since in English they work different from, say, Dutch. That’s not my problem though. Mine is one native speakers can very well struggle with as well when writing stories. It’s keeping your tenses consistent.

I had it in the piece I wrote yesterday, too. I started out in present tense, since that fit the informal, slightly comedic style I was writing it in. After the first paragraph though, I slipped back into the usual past tense. After discovering this, Mark pointed out I’d do good to change it all to past tense, since writing in present tense can be a pain. I did, and read up on it a bit. Present tense does indeed often get labelled as one of the harder styles to pull off well. I still think it’d be a better fit for my writing style though, but eh.

Even if I’m just sticking to past tense, it can still be a bit hard determining if something’s actually correct or not. For example, can I say “Some slaps to the face.” in a past tense context? There aren’t any verbs in there, so it should be fine, but it often just doesn’t feel right, like it would be better to put that in a present tense context.

But what do I know, I’m just some kid on the internet.
~ Fang

Comments

  • 06/05/2013 (2:19 PM)

    For my solo novels, I write in present tense, and everyone says they love it. With that said, I’ve carefully crafted that skill over the years, and it’s not for everyone. You have to use it correctly. I use it to throw you right into the scene and make it feel like it’s happening as you’re reading it. Don’t ditch it if that’s what you truly want to do, just make sure you do it correctly and it’ll shine.

  • 05/05/2013 (11:47 PM)

    Bonafide Jones is right, it all depends on the context. If you read the first edition of my book of short stories it was full of tense swapping and that was the biggest problem with it. I think it’s one I’ve mostly defeated now but I stick pretty much exclusively to the past tense. The present tense can be more exciting yes, but to me it also doesn’t sound right. In any context.

  • 05/05/2013 (11:18 PM)

    Yeah that is a hard part of writing, native or not.
    “She gave him ‘some slaps to the face'” would work for past tense

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