When tenses are a disaster....

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Thread: When tenses are a disaster....

  1. #1

    When tenses are a disaster....

    I never noticed this problem before; however, all of a sudden, I find myself constantly going back and forth between present and past tense and it is bothering me SO MUCH I cannot even write without getting annoyed.

    I'll work on a few segments, take a 15 minute break. When I come back and start going again, I'm suddenly in a different tense!

    Now, I don't ANYTHING that I have written in the past hour and I am so upset I can't keep going. This issue has become so bad that I find I am constantly starting over again and again because I keep screwing up....

    What do I do?

  2. #2
    Could you post a section where you shift from one tense to the other?
    English is a good language for people who like to be creative and expressive, not for people who want words to fit into boxes and stay there.

    Hidden Content -- Hidden Content

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2015
    United Kingdom
    I find that reading the section before out loud helps a lot, then I can get into the tense and mood of what I'm trying to write.

  4. #4
    Which POV are you using, first or third person? Tense problems are not uncommon with beginners trying to write in first person. If this is you, switch to third person. It may help.
    John Oberon
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  5. #5
    Keep in mind what you are doing. Are you recounting a story that has already happened or reporting events as they happen? POV has a "when" component as well as a "who" component. Keeping it consistent involves both of them. Just remember who and when you are when you start to write. Apart from that just keep on writing and reviewing and getting annoyed with yourself. It's the "no pain, no gain" syndrome. Eventually your brain will tune in to the fact that this habit hurts and you'll get it right. You learn to write well by cringing at all the bad stuff you turn out and feeling the satisfaction when something actually looks right.

    In my youth I wrote with a fountain pen with a gold nib. When I lost my temper with what I was trying to do I would smash the pen into the desk. By the time I had straightened out the nib enough to start writing again I would have calmed down. On reflection it was only slightly better than banging my head against a wall. Translating that into an equivalent activity on a computer might be tricky but when I encountered a similar problem with the opening chapter of my novel I just started typing all my criticism of it into the chapter text itself. By the time I had edited out all my scything remarks I would probably have decided how to fix the problems, but in fact my outburst was so good in its own right that I left it in as a surreal cross between an opening chapter and a preface. The emotions that you feel when writing are all grist for the mill. Channel them back into your story and they will give it extra realism. That may involve changing to writing a different part of it but one has to pick a part to write that suits one's mood at the time.
    'Sharing an experience creates a reality.' Create a new reality today.
    'There has to be some give and take.' If I can take my time I'm willing to give it.
    'The most difficult criticism that a writer has to comprehend is silence.' So speak up.

  6. #6
    I've been whittling away at my books for ten years. I knew what tenses were verbally, but on paper, seeing as how I don't read books, I had no clue. Imagine Seven years of writing, then discovering stupid rules like tenses. Or It's apostrophe isn't in its place is it? bahhh! Two many stupid rules that don't always apply too English.

    Long story short, what really helped me out, (here's hoping I'm not wrong,) was deciding that the author looks at the story as past tense, and is not a character in the story.
    The characters that are being described by the author, think, see, and talk, in present tense.

    That's my experience anyway. Hope it meanders its ways into helping.

    (“ShallI meet you somewhere?” Konire asked while Gru began to sink. Gru looked around, he was afraid of sinking.)


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