[Writing guide series] Blast From the Past… or Present?

A while back, Dini (nino1711azuki) had been asking me about lots of writing advice and stuff that I had the urge to just get it in writing so she can refer back to. This may or may not be of help to you. Either way, I’m always happy to learn if you have other ideas/topics I could write about or learn from, so please leave a comment.

Disclaimer: I AM NOT in any way a Jedi master in the English language. I didn’t even get a university degree in English, and it wasn’t my major or minor. In fact, English is my second (third?) language. I do, however read a lot and write a lot in English (not to mention watch a lot of movies and TV and have family members who only speak the language), and have a good alpha reader to keep me in line. I do like to share what I learn to those who want to learn and improve. With that said, if there are grammatical errors you find, you know why.

Anyway, onwards.


Blast From the Past… or Present?

Okay, Imouto-chan. you’ve been asking about this. Honestly, though, I didn’t think this was an issue: if you want to tell the story that seemed to happen in the past, use past tense. If it seems it’s happening in the now, use present.


[Also, I’m not even going to touch future tense because I hardly see that in books and in any writing I’ve encountered, so if you want to learn more how to use that, Google is your friend.]

So, that’s all. If you want the story that happened in the past, use past tense. If it’s happening in the now, use present.

Haha, just kidding.

Seriously, though. Past tense is most often used in a lot of fiction writing. Personally, I used it more, too, because I find it easier to use. It is ingrained in my brain. I think that in the past, stories are told verbally and usually they were about events that did happen in the past, so stories evolve that way.

The usage of present tense is hard for me to explain. If you have noticed by now, I am using present tense in this “guide” or whatever you want to call it. Why? Because I feel like this is happening in the now, as if I’m chatting with you on Line (which I could have done so, but then my thumbs would hurt from typing on my phone and ugh… but I digress). If you want your story to sound like the narrator is speaking to you personally, or doing a “play-by-play” of the events, present tense may be your best bet.

Okay, Shadz, but HOW do I know I am using a past or present?

Glad you ask, Imouto-chan. My answer: Google and Dictionary are your friends. Haha. Some writing advice, huh? Not because I’m lazy (which I tend to be, but that’s not the issue here) and I didn’t really research this much (which may or may not be true…) but because there are SSSSOOOOOOO many verbs in the English language that I’d be crazy to list them all.

Leave it to me making a grammar guide using memes that break grammar rules.

So why verbs? How do they come to play with the tenses? Because they indicate if it is past or present (and future, but whole ‘nother can of worms). Luckily for you, most action verbs used the suffix -ed or -d (play-played, bake-baked, lie-lied, say-said) to let your readers know it’s in the past or had happened in the past. But English is a bitch, and there are also a lot of verbs that just don’t wanna go by the rules (bring-brought, can-could, may-might). Those, you either memorize/internalize or find a Pinterest board of English verb usage.

The main point you have to remember, if nothing I said has yet sunk into your brain is this: KEEP IT CONSISTENT!

If you started out using present tense, for the love of God and the sanity of your beta reader keep going. Same thing with past tense.

Okay, that’s all I have about this. If you have any questions or just want to add something, comment please.

Later, Imouto-chan.

P.S. What should I write next? I have an idea what else, but I could always need more. You asked so many questions about writing that I couldn't keep track. Ha!
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