All Americans deserve better. No one cares about me. I met the man who said those words while working as a bartender in the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas. It was a one-street town in Benton County.
January 31, by Fiction Editor Beth Hill last modified January 31, One of the first decisions for a writer beginning a new story is the choice of narrative tense—will the story be a look into past events or will it race through the present?
That is, will the writer use past or present tense in terms of verbs and the action of the story?
The writer must decide what is the when of story. Although some readers and writers might have no true preference, most are firmly in one camp or the other.
Either they insist using the simple past is the only way to tell a story or they say present tense has much to offer and is as equally valid as past tense. And that you face the expectations of readers, readers who include agents and acquisitions editors.
Do narrator and viewpoint characters see actions and events as happening in the past or do they act as if the events are happening right now? Do they say— Marlboro raced through the forest.
I fear the man who is my father; his voice alone demands respect. The setup for both is simple; the effects are vastly different. Stories using the past tense are written the same way stories have been told for years—once upon a time, sometime before the present time, these marvelous characters existed and lived out a fantastic adventure.
When I say most stories, I mean the great majority of stories.
Oral stories as well as written fiction are told using the past tense. The present tense—is, walks, drinks, hopes—on the other hand, is rare.
Yes, we all know wonderful stories told using present tense. Yet in comparison to the number of novels that use the simple past, present-tense novels are few in number. Present-tense narration is also much more recent a practice.
From what I can tell from a quick survey of Internet articles, readers notice when stories are told using the present tense. We are saying that its use is noticeable. Let me stress that neither choice is right or wrong on principle.
You can use either present or past tense for telling your stories. The present tense is often associated with literary fiction, short stories, students in writing programs and workshops, and first novels.
The past tense is used in most genre novels. There might well be an adjustment period for readers of present-tense stories.
Readers may also end up paying closer attention since the format is one unfamiliar to them. They may develop a deeper involvement in the story. Immediacy Some writers and readers believe that use of the present tense makes story action and events more immediate.Writers and Editors, linking writers and editors to resources (including each other), markets, clients, and fans; maintained by Pat McNees, writer, personal and organizational historian, journalist, editor.
The Case for Reparations. Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy.
The Purdue University Online Writing Lab serves writers from around the world and the Purdue University Writing Lab helps writers on Purdue's campus. The Purdue University Online Writing Lab serves writers from around the world and the Purdue University Writing Lab helps writers on Purdue's campus.
Study Guide: Discussion Topics for OUT OF MY MIND.
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