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Thread: Past tense

  1. #1
    Daniel OConnell
    Guest

    Past tense



    I am sure this may seem elementary to most here, but to me it is confusing.

    I continue to find I am using past tense in my third person story, I have two questions

    1. Why is this bad

    2. When I try and change it to active tense it sounds… uhmm well its just sounds wrong.

    Examples below:

    Today however that time will be forever cut short.


    Landing with fifteen minutes to spare before the corporate officials are scheduled to show.


    Caleb moves the Jet wildly spinning and twisting trying to avoid the debris from the fireball, but the jet is hit, its left wing and engine take serious damage.



  2. #2
    Rogue Mutt
    Guest

    Re: Past tense

    What idiot told you to write in present tense? Most everyone writes in past tense. And whoever called present tense "active tense" needs an ass-whupping. So much misinformation out there.

  3. #3
    Daniel OConnell
    Guest

    Re: Past tense

    well one would be editor asked me why am i using it, and my own built in editor software continues to point out when i use it. i have been looking over a few other books and i see it is used a lot.
    perhaps i should rephrase my question and ask is it bad to tell a story using past tense?

  4. #4
    Rogue Mutt
    Guest

    Re: Past tense

    No. Do you read books? Most of them are written in past tense. Maybe you just don't understand the difference.

    Past tense: He walked into the room.
    Present tense: He walks into the room.

    Neither is more "active" than the other. If some editor has been telling you this then start seriously doubting his/her credentials. And I'm not just making this stuff up; you can find it in any basic grammar textbook.

  5. #5
    Daniel OConnell
    Guest

    Re: Past tense

    No. Do you read books? Most of them are written in past tense. Maybe you just don't understand the difference.


    yes quite a few of them, and that's why i was confused. And thank you for the example, but I understand the difference, just wasn't sure why he made the comment, and like I had said previuosly my own editing software points out that i am using past tense.

    could i be using it too much ?

    In books that i have read and currently reading its all i see. which made me ask what should i be doing instead?

  6. #6
    Rogue Mutt
    Guest

    Re: Past tense

    [beating head against wall...]

  7. #7
    Daniel OConnell
    Guest

    Re: Past tense

    lol I get the image, Thanks just wanted to make sure i shouldn't be doing something else

  8. #8
    Brandon Cleveland
    Guest

    Re: Past tense

    I've found that first person writing works best in present tense, or at least, if you're going to write present tense, write first person.

    Anything else, unless you can do it well, may get you in trouble.

  9. #9
    John Oberon
    Guest

    Re: Past tense

    People often confuse past/present tense and passive/active voice.

    Past tense: He walked into the room.
    Present tense: He walks into the room.

    Passive voice: The dragon was defeated by the knight.
    Active voice: The knight defeated the dragon.

    Passive voice typically means “was” coupled with a past tense verb. Perhaps your editor meant passive voice, not past tense. None of these constructions are wrong; it simply depends on your purpose. However, active voice imbues your writing with more life and energy. Good writers use passive voice sparingly and purposefully to emphasize the passivity of the subject or the unintentionality of the verb. For example:

    Plaintiff: That car hit me! (active voice)
    Lawyer: Not intentionally. You were hit by the car (passive voice) when a bus broadsided it (active voice). Isn’t that correct?

    Some say “Was” or “is” also couples with an “ing” verb for passive voice, though to my ear, I think the tense mutes the passivity somewhat:

    I was standing there when the car hit me.
    He is standing outside the door.

    As for writing first person present tense, I highly discourage it unless you’re a particularly experienced and disciplined writer. First person present tense causes most writers to ramble in narcissistic monologues. Past tense provides the author a little mental separation from his character and helps prevent those irrelevant digressions.

  10. #10
    Gary Kessler
    Guest

    Re: Past tense

    No problem writing in past tense. Possibly what was being pointed to was the unnecessary use of past perfect tense (he had gone) where the simple past works just as well (he went) and is crisper.

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