I'm writing in the past tense, and in third person. Is it appropriate to include questions, like this?

A spell to conceal her would be helpful. If there was such a spell, of course. She turned back. Should she go check for one?

Here’s another example.

...but he felt butterflies, like he wanted to laugh. Why would he laugh? Of course—he realized, now, they were all right about him—he was mad.

My problem with these sentences is that it seems to change from past tense to present tense, but I want the narration to be close to the character’s perspective without actually being in first person. Is there another way to do this without using filler words like “He wondered” or “She thought?” Or is this acceptable?

  • Yes, I find myself stopping at the word "now" when I write similar sentences, but just as in your example, it can usually be omitted to keep it in past tense.
    – Erk
    Dec 27, 2020 at 19:12

1 Answer 1


It makes total sense that their thoughts are in present tense. It doesn't make a difference that you don't use filler words. You're showing us their thoughts in the moment. To me it reads naturally that way and it's common practice as far as I can tell.

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