Writing Advice: no need to be tense about verbs!

Stories are full of action, so verbs are important, but don’t let that worry you.

When I start a story, I have a choice of writing in the past tense, or in the present tense. Both are great, but both have advantages and disadvantages.

The choice shouldn’t bog you down.

Pick one.

You can change it later if needed.

Past tense is good for stories in which a main character is remembering events, but that’s not written in stone. In one of my works in progress (WIPs), an elderly lady remembers her past in the present tnese, but lives the present in the past tense (or is that “lived?”). You can deliberately mess around with tense, as long as you’re aware of which one you’re using and it’s the one you intend to use.

Past tense is not my favorite when point of view (POV) is first person. Why not? People think in the present tense. We live our lives now, not back then.

Where the past shines (shone) in memory, the present shines (is shining) when the story is experienced in the present. “Lockdown” is one of my pieces of free fiction which is written in the present tense. Billy, a young man, lives the events he narrates, and putting it in the past tense wouldn’t have worked for that tale. The same is true for a piece of sci-fi fantasy, “In Life,” on my free fiction page. The story takes place in the now.

In contrast, two pieces of my free ficiton, “Time Gone By” and “The Dark Tide,” are written in the past tense because in both stories it is a character remembering events.

The easiest way to decide which tense to use is to pick one, unless your story screams for a specific tense. No matter what you pick, you’ll probably sometimes type in the wrong tense. If you’re in a hurry to write, it’s okay to leave the broken tenses and fix them later.

Remember to have fun. This topic should never leave you feeling tense!



, , ,



Leave a Reply