let’s talk tense

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As a new writer, one of the hang ups I had was tending to slip between past tense and present, particularly when I was writing action. There’s just something more intense about action in the present tense.

It was an accident that I would sometimes catch, and sometimes not. I still do one thorough reading pass on everything I write just to look for tense slip ups.

None of this to say that one is right and the other wrong, but like POV and you narrative voice, your tenses need to be consistent or you risk pushing your reader out of the story.

I don’t know that I’ve ever read a full novel that was written in present tense, but I’ve read, and written, a fair number of short stories that were. It seems to work particularly well with actions scenes, as I already said, and in particular with sex scenes.

And yeah, I’ve written a few of those in my day. Present tense seems to feel more immediate, more intimate for those moments. However, if your entire story is all past tense, and your action is present tense, well it just feels off. Some readers will recognize the problem, others will only realize that something is different.

Don’t let it keep you from getting your first draft down on paper/screen though. That’s what editing and editors are for.

Happy Friday, Readers! I accepted a job offer yesterday, so I have two weeks to try to finish up the last Blood Witch book before I’m back to the daily grind!

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