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8
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3answers
5k views

Use of past vs. present tense in works of fiction

I have recently picked up several works of fiction and begun to read them. I have found that some are written using past tense while others use the present tense. What is the significance of using ...
8
votes
3answers
902 views

Switching from past to present tense?

I'm thinking of writing a novel where my character narrates flashbacks through the hardest times of his life written in past tense, leading up to the present tense. I was considering switching to ...
7
votes
5answers
2k views

Third-person objective in action scene

I'm telling a story in third-person objective, the first part being basically an objective description of events around a certain character. I got to a brief action scene, and it fell flat. What the ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

Should a long flashback be written in first or third person?

In my novel there will be a chapter-length flashback as one character relates a story from his past. The rest of the novel is written in limited third-person, seeing into one person's mind at a time. ...
6
votes
6answers
13k views

Which tense to use when writing a diary?

For writing diary content every day, which English tense is appropriate to use? Things have all happened already. I usually write late at night (end of the day) or the next day. Should I use ...
6
votes
2answers
772 views

Should blog posts be reformatted to past tense after an event?

A writer is doing blog coverage of an event which is time sensitive (happens annually). The writer uses present tense for the coverage posts. Should the writer go back and reformat the old posts to ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Pros ans cons of writing a plot based on the present and past tense (character's point of view)?

I'm not sure if I should write my first book in the present or past tense. The book is about a doctor in a clinic who is analysing his patients. e.g. I said, VS I say. I thought for a while ...
5
votes
2answers
4k views

Tense of Literary Essay

When writing a literary essay in English what tense should be used: Past as in: Gatsby’s parties were ostentatious and exquisite Or present as in: Gatsby’s parties are ostentatious and ...
5
votes
1answer
83 views

Past perfect in past tense narrative: When to use and when not to?

I always get confused about whether to use past perfect in past tense narrative. Example: I went back home that weekend to help Mom with our dog's burial. Since we had postponed it, she'd had to ...
4
votes
3answers
758 views

Proper use of the “historical present tense”

I am thinking of employing the historical present tense in a first-person narrative (to achieve a greater level of immediacy). The problem is that I am telling the story in a non-linear manner, i.e. ...
4
votes
2answers
4k views

Should a flashback be in past tense or past perfect?

Assuming the story itself is in past tense, normally when I go further into the past I'd use past perfect: He had first met her at the grocery store, six months prior. However, which is more ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Use of present-tense for memory-related shenanigans in a past-tense story

I'm writing a story in past tense, in first person. The character is discussing the vagaries of his memory of events in the further past. "I remembered" seems to have the wrong connotation here - he ...
4
votes
1answer
225 views

What tense to use in an academic paper when speaking about correspondence?

What is the correct tense to use in an academic paper when speaking about correspondence? Say one of my source materials is a letter written by someone named William, in which he says he went to the ...
4
votes
5answers
230 views

Past tense vs present tense

I’m writing a short story. I am using the past tense, but I have sections where I describe people and places that are supposed to still be in existence. Should I continue to refer to them in the ...
2
votes
4answers
595 views

Is there a complete guideline for which tense to use?

There are questions here about specific use of tenses, but I wonder if there is a more complete guide on what tense to use when? For a fictional novel, Past Tense is the accepted choice. But which ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Present tense in user manuals

I am writing a user manual for an IT system. And inside the user manual I have sentences such as: Users can delete Servers that do not have Customers assigned to them. Is the use of ...
2
votes
4answers
8k views

How to write in past tense?

This is one of those questions much like when you suddenly forget someone's name who you see every day. But, say I write this: Anne fidgeted with her hands and looked towards the door, although ...
2
votes
1answer
349 views

When to keep the passive voice and when to remove it

This is something I wrote: The person was standing in the middle of the clearing, facing away from me. It was a girl. She was wearing a red knit hat, a white sweater, an a gray plaid skirt ...
2
votes
4answers
1k views

Which tense should I use when writing a post about a journey?

What tense could I use when I write about a journey? Suppose if I write about a train journey and describe the countryside, would using a present tense create a deeper impact to the reader? I could ...
1
vote
2answers
413 views

“That's when” vs “That was when.”

Should I use the former or the latter in a story written in first-person past tense? Example: My heart started to race, my adrenaline to spike, and that's when the thought hit me: I had to find ...
1
vote
1answer
134 views

Should I use “could be” or “could have been” in past-tense narration?

Examples: Using "could": I looked at the flyer again, and then back at Mark. Very strange---meeting someone who didn't see me as a weirdo. But could it be true? Could there be a club ...
1
vote
2answers
116 views

Use past or present tense for lasting fact

I'm writing a story in present tense. One sentence is a little tricky for me, and I don't know if I should use past or present tense: Present tense The tree was so massive, that it even withholds ...
1
vote
3answers
44 views

Present tense novel with past tense flashbacks

I'm currently writing a mystery novel in the third person present tense. I chose this to create more suspense as I like the idea that the reader is discovering things at the same time as the ...
1
vote
3answers
58 views

How would I keep using past tense with resulting actions

I'm having trouble figuring out which form is the past tense for sentences like these. For each example, which would be correct? Or have I completely missed something? Thanks. John stepped on the ...
1
vote
2answers
95 views

Is there a problem in switching from present to past for a backstory sequence?

My understanding was that it's fairly normal for a present-tense novel to switch into past tense in a backstory sequence. But I was having a conversation with a friend and he insists any tense ...
1
vote
2answers
248 views

“Where did X go?” vs “where had X gone.”

Which one should be used for a story written in the past tense? Example: But just as I was about to consider that possibility, I spotted something: a blood-stained feather. It was caught between ...
1
vote
2answers
483 views

Tenses I should use in a translated-novel

I have been translating a novel that is originally written in my native language into English. Considering that the book's plot is the author's experience of a life that has happened in the past, I've ...
1
vote
1answer
59 views

Using present tense for events in the novels past

I have a novel I am working on that opens in present tense narration. At the beginning of chapter two it is revealed that the previous chapter, and the rest of the novel, are POV narration from a ...
1
vote
1answer
66 views

Correctly implementing past tense

I'm having difficulties with a sentence (and others like it) in the prose of a story. I've heard a lot of advice to both remain consistent with tense but also to not be too rigid about it. Could ...
1
vote
1answer
785 views

the use of “now” in past tense [closed]

I want to write something like Now that he met his lost daughter, his happiness is now complete. But I'm not sure how to turn that into narrative past tense, especially the "now" part. Is it ...
1
vote
1answer
215 views

Are these examples of tenses? Why do writers use the tenses that they do?

I have a passage about a character who has just woken up, and then there's the line The room fell into silence. Or should it be The room falls into silence. I can't get my head around ...
0
votes
2answers
599 views

Can I change between the use of past tense to present tense for the story being told by a character in first person?

My story is told by one of the characters and frequently uses the past tense when describing events. But occasionally I feel like some of the events should be told in the present tense, and I switch ...
0
votes
1answer
313 views

Confusion on inconsistent verb tenses in a magazine article

I have an obstacle writing articles that have consistent verb tenses. Generally, I've been told that if I start an article in the past tense, I should keep other verbs in the past tense. But as I read ...
0
votes
1answer
44 views

A question of tenses

I'm writing a novella. A lot of it is told from the protagonist's point of view when he is telling someone about the events of the last three years. I'm struggling with tenses. I have written the ...
0
votes
1answer
2k views

Problems with past tenses in formal paper on a novel with MLA Format

I have been writing high school English paper on a novel in MLA format. Is there any rule about using past participle or past imperfect? Throughout the essay there have been many places that can be ...
0
votes
0answers
5 views

Future-In-The-Past Version of 'Should?' [migrated]

     When a present-tense first-person narrator of a story wishes to express that they are thinking about selecting between two alternative actions to perform in the future, ...
0
votes
0answers
73 views

Challenges in switching tense [duplicate]

I am writing fiction and considering using past tense by default but then switching to present tense for action scenes. This answer leads me to believe switching tense can be done. I assume that ...