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Guidelines for writing Poems, Stories and Tales

Use of past and present tense in same novel



Both Past Tense and Present Tense Are Fine If you can’t decide which tense you should use in your novel, you should probably write it in past tense. There are many reasons past tense is the standard for novels. One main reason is simply that it’s the convention.

Can you switch between present and past tense in a novel?

You can switch tenses between sections or chapters



You might start out in the present tense in an opening section — to bring the reader into action that feels immediate and urgent — and then, in a subsequent section featuring backstory or earlier periods of time, switch to the past tense.

Can you use past and present tense in a story?

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.

Should I use past or present tense in novel?





Present tense has more “immediacy” than past tense.



Past-tense narration is of course “immediate” in a way, since the events of the characters’ past are happening in the reader’s present. But the immediacy of the present tense also allows us to convey a character’s change as it happens, not after the fact.

Is it OK to switch tenses in a novel?

Switching from past to present tense in a story is possible, however. But it is not an easy feat. There are possibilities when the narrator moves into the present to talk about facts or generalities. But generally, you would write most stories in the past in the narrative tenses.

Can I use past tense and present tense in the same sentence?

It’s fine to use the present and the past here. After all, that’s what happens: as you say, you paid the deposit in the past and pay the rent in the present. Tenses should agree in the same clause, but it’s very common to have multiple tenses in the same sentence. Although I was sick yesterday, I am fine today.

What tense is Harry Potter written in?

third person limited





Harry Potter is written in third person limited, with almost all of the action from Harry’s perspective (except for the first chapter in the first book, which is third person omniscient).

What effect does present tense have on the reader?

If you’re writing a prose story, writing in present tense creates the same effect of making the reader feel like they’re experiencing the action of the story as it’s happening. This helps the reader to feel more immersed in the story than if it was told in past tense by a single character.

What effect does past tense have on the reader?

Writing a story in past tense allows you to manipulate time, to reveal, and to conceal events. Past-tense fiction creates a more subtle kind of suspense where we may know the outcome of the story but we want to know how and why we ended up there. This is good for more cerebral, reflective characters.

Should I write novels in first or third person?

If you want to write the entire story in individual, quirky language, choose first person. If you want your POV character to indulge in lengthy ruminations, choose first person. If you want your reader to feel high identification with your POV character, choose first person or close third.

Why do authors switch from past to present tense?

Most writers, it seems, prefer one tense over another. Many of us use the past tense as our default, as it allows for foreshadowing, and, conversely, it allows reflection from the present “telling” moment. We’re telling a story of which we know the narrative arc and, therefore, it happened in the past.

Can you mix tenses?

The bottom line is this: there is no restriction on what tenses we can use and mix within a sentence, as long as they are appropriate for the context.

Can you change point of view in a story?

Two: When you change perspectives, you must make sure the reader knows which character she’s viewing the story through—not just sometimes, but all the time. Changing perspective at chapter or section breaks can help with this clarity, but it is possible to change within paragraphs and still maintain clarity.



In what tense should a story be written?

Past tense is by far the most common tense, whether you’re writing a fictional novel or a nonfiction newspaper article. If you can’t decide which tense you should use in your novel, you should probably write it in past tense. There are many reasons past tense is the standard for novels.

Can you mix tenses in a sentence?

The bottom line is this: there is no restriction on what tenses we can use and mix within a sentence, as long as they are appropriate for the context.

Can you write a story in past tense?

You can use the past tense in any genre. It is the easiest way to tell a story, because it places it in a time frame. It has already happened and it gives the reader a sense of comfort that somebody has lived to tell the tale. Most of us, including many older readers, are happiest with this format.

What tense are stories written?

The past tense is the choice of most contemporary commercial fiction writers. What’s interesting is that readers are so used to this style that they can still immerse themselves in a past-tense narrative as though the story is unfolding now.

Which tense is best for telling stories?

When you tell a story you’re telling about events that happened in the past, so you would almost always use the past tense. There is however a usage called the historical present, dramatic present or narrative present, using the present tense to tell a story.



Why do authors use present tense?

Because present tense allows for closer narration, it can create the sense of a unique character perspective. A present tense narrative can convey emotions, thoughts and impressions in the moment.