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Present or Past Tense?!?!?!?!
Aurora Lights

Ok, so I've been writing for a few years now, but sort of just started getting serious about it and stuff. So I'm not too sure I have enough experience to decide this for myself quite yet. Here's the deal: I want to write a multiple chapter fic. Plain and simple. I have two one shots posted already, and I've really been wanting to try one of these recently.

My biggest problem with writing these is that I can never really stick to only one tense. When I'm writing, I get so into it sometimes that I'll accidentally switch back and forth between the two, whichever one feels right at the time, I guess. It makes sense to me, but I'm afraid others won't quite feel the same about it. And besides that, I myself can read it perfectly fine and all, but it still annoys me when I notice my sporadic and seemingly random choice of tense. And that's the main issue here, I can't choose between the two.

So, if anyone is willing to help me out, I'd be really grateful to you if you'd read my little excerpts below and give me your own opinion. I'm actually 'Recycling', or 'Refurbishing', this story that I started some years ago and adding to it. (I randomly found it hidden away in Google Docs and fell in love all over again....)

Well, anyway.... It's about.... Don't laugh.... Mermaids.... Correction, MerMEN, to be more specific. *Sigh* And I'll say it now, it's yaoi, slash, mxm, boyxboy, shonen ai, or whatever you want to call it. But I want as many opinions as possible, so I'm gonna only put the very beginning up, because there's no mention of romance at all in it, okay? So then, here it is, tell me what you think, please!!!!

Past Tense:

It was a hot summer day. The sun rose high in the sky, illuminating the water in and around the lagoon. A group of boys and girls splashed around with each other in the water, carefully avoiding the dangerous creatures that swam lower on the sea bed.

A few more sat on rocks, watching them play and tumble with each other while basking in the sun. The light caught on their scales, their eyes, and the shining jewels and pearls and shells in their hair, creating a beautiful sort of light show all around them.

A Cerulean and Alice blue tail dipped into the blue lagoon and splashed some water at two unsuspecting teens, who were getting a little too rough with each other as they wrestled in the water.

The two turned to him, "What was that for?!" one asked. His long brown hair a mess from playing around, his brown eyes glared up at the one on the rocks beside them.

The other, a red head with long hair that hung to his shoulders, glared too. "What the heck, Tryne?!"

He shrugged, smiling, "You're too close, and you keep splashing me. Oh, and Cedric, you have seaweed in your hair." He said and removed his tail from the water. He slid back on the boulder and continued to sunbathe.

The redhead, Cedric, pulled the foreign object from his hair. When Tryne looked away he leaned over and whispered something in the others ear and they both smiled mischievously. A few others watched on as the two boys each took hold of Tryne's tail, and pulled.

"Hey! Stop that-!" he yelled before being fully submerged in the water. Everybody who saw was laughing at Tryne when he emerged from the water. His black hair, which hung to just above his neck when tied high on his head, was now soaked and plastered to his face. It's not that he minded it much, but the water seemed ten times colder after you had spent a good amount of time laying in the sun. "Very funny, guys. You're hilarious." He said with sarcasm as he wiped the hair out of his face.

Present Tense:

It's a hot summer day, the sun high in the sky, illuminating the water in and around the coral reef. A group of boys and girls splash around with each other in the water, carefully avoiding the dangerous creatures that lurk lower on the sea bed.

A few more lay on rocks, watching them play and tumble with each other while basking in the sun. The light catches on their scales, their eyes, and the shining jewels and pearls and shells in their hair, creating a beautiful sort of light show all around them.

A Cerulean and Alice blue tail dips into the clear blue lagoon and splashes some water at two unsuspecting teens, who're getting a little too rough with each other as they wrestle around in the water.

The two turn to him, "What was that for?!" one asks. His long brown hair a mess from playing around, his brown eyes glaring up at the one on the rocks beside them.

The other, a red head with long hair that hangs to his shoulders, glares at him as well. "What the heck, Tryne?!"

He shrugs, smiling, "You're too close, and you keep splashing me. Oh, and Cedric, you have seaweed in your hair." He says and removes his tail from the water. He slides back on the boulder and continues to sunbathe.

The redhead, Cedric, pulls the foreign object from his hair. When Tryne looks away he leans over and whispers something in the others ear, and they both smile mischievously. A few others watch on as the two boys each take hold of Tryne's tail, and pull.

"Hey! Stop that-!" he yells before being fully submerged in the water. When he emerges from the water, everybody who saw begins to laugh. His black hair, which hangs to just above his neck when tied high on his head, is now soaked and plastered to his face. It's not that he minds it much, but the water seems ten times colder after you had spent a good amount of time laying in the sun. "Very funny, guys. You're hilarious." He says with sarcasm as he wipes the hair out of his face.

----------------

So.... Any suggestions? And before you insist that I should just do what I want, whatever feels best or easiest for me, I don't know which is easier. Right now, it seems that past tense was easier. But that may just be because I had to think about present tense more, because I had to 'translate' it to present tense from past tense this time. I just want to know what sounds better, please, or which one flows better, you know?

Oh, and any other opinions or suggestions about my writing in general are always welcome as well.

Thank you in advance, everybody.

Aurora.

7/6/2012 . Edited 7/6/2012 #1 Report
Sentio Infirmum

It's a difficult decision with this sort of thing- we've all been there, and it sucks. :) But what you need to keep in mind is the kind of story you're looking to tell. Present tense is very immediate, which gives you a level of intimacy with your reader. For this reason, it's often a good choice for first-person and second-person stories, but not as good for most third-person work; it's also a good choice, usually, for thrillers. Most of the time people choose present tense because they don't want the reader to have any idea what will happen next; they want everything to be sudden, so the reader feels every stomach-wrenching twist and turn right with you. The past tense, on the other hand, works best for third and first-person (not usually as good for second-person) and it's excellent for stories with some sort of philosophical level because it allows the narrator to reflect on past events. The past tense also has a wistfulness to it that intrigues the reader and makes it perfect for developing a distinct voice.

I hope this helped!

10/13/2012 #2 Report
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