What is the best tense and sytle to use when writing a story as it happens.

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  1. davidkaluge profile image53
    davidkalugeposted 7 years ago

    Let us assume that one wants to narrate a story of an event that happened in his/her life or any other event from a certain period to another, maybe 1998-2011. If one chooses to write the story as if it was written as it happened by using present tense to tell the story from 1998-2011 how will it look like when we consider other characters that we have to report their speeches? Eventually, do we necessarily need to add past tense for instance "Mark said..." or make all present. It will be interesting.

    1. couturepopcafe profile image60
      couturepopcafeposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      First person can be tricky. You need to pull down all the external mikes and implant a chip inside the character's brain that directly broadcasts his words, actions and thoughts. Nothing is seen from outside the narrator's POV.

      I searched the chest of drawers. I wanted to quit right there and let it go but I couldn't let it be that easy. Hmm. The closet. Nice clothes. Always made me laugh when I saw that in old movies.What a pack rat she was.

      (See how every thought is conveyed to the reader.)

      The chest was unlocked and I opened it expecting to be disappointed. I was anything but. Then Judy walked in.
      "Hey big guy, whatcha doin'?"
      I stared like a deer in headlights searching for the words.
      "Oh, just going through some of mom's stuff." Every muscle in my body was tense.

      And so on.

      1. couturepopcafe profile image60
        couturepopcafeposted 7 years agoin reply to this

        You'll still create dialog as it's happening but you'll tell what the narrator is thinking all the time. Make sure you keep tense the same or you lose the cred with the reader.

    2. cdub77 profile image82
      cdub77posted 7 years agoin reply to this

      You can do whatever you want really as long as it is justified.  I've heard agents say that they are sick to death of first person, present tense, under punctuated stories, but I still see them getting published all the time.  Find a perspective you like and stick with it.  There are times when using present tense that it will be appropriate to use "said" or over says, but that's when the reference to when the statement was made is after the fact.  If you could give more of a clearer example of where you are wondering about present/past tense, I could perhaps help more.  Best of luck!

  2. davidkaluge profile image53
    davidkalugeposted 7 years ago

    Thanks Couturepopcafe for your input. You gave two examples, one had no external character while the other had characters. Narration is usually written in past tense but where dialogs appears then present tense is used with" ". I am imagining a narration, though it movie narration but may not be used in written works so I want to see how it will work. The narration of telling a story as it happened. e.g Today is 20th Dec. and I am on my way to school."When will you be back?" asked Mike. "I dnt no"...

  3. davidkaluge profile image53
    davidkalugeposted 7 years ago

    I knew Mike felt bad because he wanted me to stay back and play with,"Okay, I shall be back soon," I added to make him happy. From the example present and past tense was mixed and the reader can be confused, isn't it? But if the story is narrated in a movie maybe it becomes easier because the views can watch the dialogs while the narrator continues narrating what happened each day till the end of the movie. The picture or aim is to make viewers/readers follow the event as it happened not reported.

    1. couturepopcafe profile image60
      couturepopcafeposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      The difference is this: when someone is watching a movie, there is visual, as though you are watching another person do something in real life.  In a book, there is no visual so the narrator must 'tell' the reader what's going on as in "It started raining so I pulled my collar up around my neck."

      In a movie, we can see this happening so there's no need to tell it but if you're writing as though someone is telling the story to the audience, sort of an offscreen character or inside the head of the character, you would write it the same way as for a book for the most part.

  4. davidkaluge profile image53
    davidkalugeposted 7 years ago

    Yes, you are right. Even in movies the charaters may have to talk at a point so it is not only visual that sends the message. It simply means that the pattern used in narration in a book have to be different to that used in a movie and may be can't go well if used in a book. Is it?


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