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Questions tagged [tenses]

This tag should be used for questions about using grammatical tenses in your work, such as questions about the correct usage of tenses or about the effect that certain tenses have on the reader's feelings.

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13
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3answers
1k views

Shifting tenses in the middle of narration

I am writing a short story where the narrator is recording a message to his daughter about some tragic event and in between the narration, the narrator sometimes tries to address directly his daughter....
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3answers
99 views

What tense to use for events that are still happening?

The question is similar to this but the answers does not answer me. In my general fiction novel, which is told in first person singular past tense, I encounter moments where I am confused whether to ...
6
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3answers
1k views

Past vs. present tense when referring to a fictional character

What would you write when referring to a fictional character in a non-fiction work? e.g. Tom Sawyer is a boy, he has no parents, he goes on adventures or Tom Sawyer was a boy, he had no parents, he ...
6
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4answers
105 views

In one book can one narrator be in present and the other in past?

I'm currently planning a book series that is told from the first person perspective of 5 different characters. I have a different voice for all of the characters, but I think that 2 of the characters ...
2
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1answer
66 views

Switching tense and point of view between the chapters [duplicate]

I'm writing a story told mostly in first person point of view in present tense where the narrator alternates between two characters from chapter to chapter. I have gotten some critics about this ...
6
votes
2answers
167 views

Historical Present in English?

As a historian, I at times get my fingers on Latin texts. Latin has a rather peculiar use of past and present tenses: Usually, texts are written in Imperfect, which is the 'simple past', with things ...
5
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2answers
126 views

Is it confusing for English speakers to see mixed tenses in narration?

I translate fanfiction stories from Russian into English as a hobby and I'm a bit confused about tenses. In Russian, it's normal to mix past and present tenses in generally past narration, but I ...
1
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2answers
76 views

Varying POV and tense

My novel is written in the third person. When changing POV between different scenes (or chapters), is it OK if the parts for different POV characters use different tenses: some - the past tense, and ...
3
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5answers
71 views

Should I change from past to present tense to state a fact that continues into the present and is unyielding?

Within narration in past tense, should a statement of a universally true fact be in past tense or in present tense? For example, in the short text: It was late afternoon in Zubrin. The air was ...
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2answers
95 views

Flashforward Tense

I am a new-ish author. I've written a lot of books, but they've never been published. Anyway, for this new book I'm about to write the first scene is a flash-forward to the end of the book. I really ...
-2
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2answers
112 views

How can I avoid repetition of “I”, while keeping present tense in first person? [duplicate]

I'm writing a first-person fantasy novel. I can't exactly figure out how to avoid the repetition of "I" when explaining the actions of the character. Any way I have ever seen makes the story seem like ...
3
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4answers
743 views

Are characters' internal thoughts written in past or present tense?

Is there a general rule for past vs. present tense for a character's internal thoughts? Direct thoughts in present, while indirect thoughts in past? I'm thinking specifically of 1st person here. I ...
5
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1answer
40 views

Confusion about scientific writing tenses

I am writing a study for my second academic degree. As usual it has research questions and objectives. My confusion lies in the tenses for these two. The research questions have been answered and the ...
7
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4answers
129 views

Are there any rules to follow about the narrator mixing past and present tense in writing?

I'm editing a short story that's been written in the past tense, however at some points I slip up and use a lot of present tense to describe some scenes. Thing is, it's happened often enough that I've ...
3
votes
1answer
80 views

Shifting from Past tense to present tense [closed]

I want to make a cartoon video describing my personal experience. Is it okay if I used the past tense to introduce the story first and then shift to the present tense to make it sound more realistic? ...
5
votes
3answers
131 views

Can I change tenses in my first person YA novel?

I'm half way through a YA science fiction novel that is told in 1st person, past tense. Currently there are two chapters in different tenses. One is 2nd person, present tense - the p.o.v. of an AI. ...
5
votes
2answers
113 views

Confusion about usage of present tense vs past tense vs mixed

I am quite new to writing so I hope my question makes any sense. I'm trying to write a first draft of a story that has been haunting me for quite a while. Even though I'm fine with it to fail, I ...
6
votes
3answers
359 views

A question about Past Participle vs Simple Past in a novel

The novel is in past tense and the character is recounting things that happened before the novel began. Should I be using the past participle? Everything I read says that using the word "had" is a big ...
3
votes
3answers
594 views

How to avoid slipping into the wrong tense?

In one of the stories I'm writing at the moment, when the narrator is in the scene, the story is in present tense (which is painful, but so far I like the result). The rest is in the much easier to ...
2
votes
2answers
611 views

Converting/rewriting present tense narratives to past tense gracefully. Not a question about verb conjugation

I decided a few chapters into a book I'm writing that I dislike present tense, and that I would need to go back and make all instances of present tense past tense to maintain consistency. However, now ...
1
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1answer
189 views

Issue of tense and breaking the fourth wall/meta

Looking at another thread on tense, I realize that this one of mine may be misconstrued as me asking for help fixing a specific paragraph. Rather than that, I am asking for advice in general on ...
4
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3answers
120 views

First person plural for charisma?

I've been writing a friendly tutorial series for a small art software community. Somehow I decided to write it in first person plural, so the entire tutorial is "First, let's do this..." and "Now we ...
2
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1answer
200 views

Moving between a narrator's memories of the past and the “literary present”

The rule is simple in general: use the present tenses when discussing events in literary works. One situation where this gets more complicated is where you have to switch timelines because, for ...
5
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4answers
804 views

What tense do I use when talking about a character that has died?

When analysing a book and speaking of a character that dies, do you still you present tense as you are still analysing a book? If I were to make up a quick example: "Despite Anna's death, the plot ...
1
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1answer
61 views

There will be vs There is : When writing proposals for IT projects [closed]

Please read following two sentence. There will be around 20 reports. There is around 20 reports. What is the correct / most suitable one?
4
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2answers
96 views

Present tense or Future tense (When writing articles or technical guides)

Should we use present tense or future tense when writing an article? I know this question will be off topic if I asked without example. So I will add an example: You should use a very clean font ...
12
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5answers
2k views

Do modern readers believe the first person narrator can't die?

Back in highschool in the 90s we had an assignment to write an extra chapter for a book. After some discussion the teacher told us that under no circumstances can we kill the protagonist as the book ...
2
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3answers
328 views

Is it correct to write “should/could/must be” in past tense narrative?

Example in my own writing: Kazumi didn't reply to her boyfriend---or rather ex-boyfriend's---message. Instead, she stayed at Burger King, reanalyzing Kouta's abandonment over a coffee. No, ...
8
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3answers
301 views

How can I improve my grammar?

I feel like I have learned everything I know about Grammar by osmosis. I don't remember learning any of the technicalities of Grammar when I was at school and it has always been a weak area. I think ...
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2answers
439 views

How to show crying through text? [duplicate]

How are you able to show crying in a text without using emoji or sentimentalism?
0
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2answers
709 views

Tense in a query letter, synopsis, outline

When writing fiction, we generally use past tense for the narration and present tense for dialogue. When you are done with a fiction novel and are ready to query a literary agent/publisher, what ...
1
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1answer
451 views

Should I change the verb tenses in a letter I'm translating that has them in the present but talking about the past?

I am translating a letter written by a 16 year whose native language is not Spanish. I feel very positive that I have to translate into correct English and keep any colloquialism or idioms. ...
9
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3answers
651 views

Switching between past tense and historical present tense

When is it appropriate to switch between past tense and historical present tense when telling a story in first person? Should we try to keep the same tense throughout, or can narration be in ...
2
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2answers
4k views

present tense fiction - examples of it done well and common pitfalls

I've recently started trying my hand at some fiction writing for the first time. Already I reckon there are a lot of people out there that would say that I shouldn't be thinking about present tense if ...
2
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3answers
164 views

“Am I mixing my tenses?” She asked, scratching her head

I'm very confused about tenses. I am not sure if I am mixing modifiers up or slipping from past to present. Can someone help me please, here are a few examples: Stooping, he lit a fire, warming ...
2
votes
1answer
110 views

Referencing the present while using the past tense

It feels awkward and confusing to speak specifically about the present -- e.g. "right now," "these days", "this very moment", etc. -- when writing in past-tense. For example: "He mused about it; ...
4
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4answers
6k views

Past tense writing troubles. Specifically the word “Now”

I want to say: "Now I was on the plane with my best friend." But don't "Now" and "was" contradict each other? And I specifically want to phrase it this way because earlier on in my book I wrote: "I ...
2
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2answers
1k views

Use of past tense in a book about the future

I'm writing a sci-fi novella about a scientist named Steves living in the 24th century. I'm mostly using the typical past tense to narrate the incidents happening to the protagonist. Whenever I'm ...
13
votes
6answers
1k views

Can I switch from past tense to present tense in an epilogue?

I have written my entire novel thus far in past tense. However, I feel like my final chapter/epilogue would work better in present tense. I want to give the reader the sense that everything s/he has ...
0
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1answer
76 views

Shifting Tense and Commas in Writing

I received some critiques on my writing where the reader indicated it read fine but there was just something off about my tense. However, he couldn't put a finger on what, exactly, was wrong with it. ...
1
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1answer
307 views

Which makes better sense? [closed]

Is it correct to say: Sign Up to our Newsletter Or Sign Up for our Newsletter Thanks!
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3answers
140 views

Stating facts in novel written in the present tense, third person omniscient. Can I use the past tenses or would I risk losing consistency?

So I've come across this little (but very annoying) problem when writing my first novel in the present tense: I'm second guessing my choice of tenses all the time, very much afraid to end up being ...
2
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1answer
52 views

Managing Document Versions for Multiple Tenses

I need to create two versions of a document, one in future tense and one in past tense: Document A: The consultant will do X. Document B: The consultant did X. In the past, I've handled this by ...
2
votes
3answers
7k views

Writing dialogue, present or past tense “said”

This may seem like an off-topic question, but it's really more about writing than about the grammar. I use a lot of dialogue in my writing, sometimes too much, but while I'm writing it, though the ...
2
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5answers
1k views

Use of 'Now' in past tense

The prologue of my story is past tense, then the rest will be present tense. I cannot figure how to word a sentence correctly to take out 'now' or to make it sound correct. Rayanne had found out she ...
0
votes
1answer
62 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
205 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 ...
0
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0answers
77 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
101 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
3answers
551 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 ...