Tenses in writing – time to try switching it up

By now you should be ready to try your hand and switching up past and present tense.  We talked a bit about the differences between the two, and we examined how Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Russo employed both in his novel, Empire Falls.

Now, it’s your turn.  I mentioned before that, if we’re going to use present tense, we should identify a good reason for doing so.  Sometimes, we can’t do that until we’ve seen what our work looks like in the present tense.

So, if you’re writing in the past tense, find a good-sized paragraph and rewrite it in the present tense.  If you run into trouble, shoot me a note on the Contacts page and I’d be happy to give you a hand.

If you’re already writing in the present tense, and you’re willing to share, we’d love to hear why you chose to go that route.

6 Thoughts on “Tenses in writing – time to try switching it up

  1. I have to admit I haven’t been a big fan of the present tense but I’m getting more used to it. I read a book recently that had both past and present tense. I think it would have worked well if the author hadn’t used them both within the same page and kept it to using it for one character but not another. It definitely gave the book a different flavor. I am seeing it more and more maybe time I practiced with it a little more. Thank you for this exercise, always good to test what you don’t like or don’t understand. :)

    • Thanks Maggie. I’m glad you liked the exercise! I’ve never felt totally comfortable writing in the present tense, but I want to be ready in case I ever dream up the perfect present-tense plot lol!

  2. brilliant idea
    melanie jean juneau recently posted…Oops!My Profile

    • So true. Honesty and everything reneicgzod.

    • none of the above: Where could we look for data on whether experience matters in this kind of job?I think it’s true that all of us [or almost all of us] are laboring under the constraints of : There is a [or an asymptotic] upper bound to our possible success, and our "experience" gives people a pretty good idea as to what that upper bound is [I suppose there might be some people who are so gifted that there is no upper bound to their possible success in any possible endeavor, but I'm not sure if any examples spring readily to mind – Beethoven, for instance, is rumored not to have advanced much beyond simple addition and subtraction in his arithmetic studies (which, quite frankly, I have never really understood – maybe he was just faking the math jitters because he didn't want to be bothered with doing his math homework)].But there's also an amount of time that it takes us to reach our Peter Principle upper bounds [or, in the case of asymptoticness – asymptoticity? – the amount of time it takes us to get "pretty darned close" to our asymptotic upper bounds], so for each of us, there's a curve involved – the curve might be four years long [undergraduate studies], or a decade long [bachelor's & graduate training], or three or four decades long [with maybe Dubya as an example – having been a frat boy until at least the age of forty].So the interesting question would be: What do people's Peter Principle curves look like, which, in turn, is to say: What is the "BELL CURVE" for a population's Peter Principle curves? In general, mathematicians would map all of this in a higher dimensional space – really as a bunch of data points in an infinite dimensional space. And since there are ultimately about six billion of those data points, the data points themselves could be taken as a pretty good approximation to a continuum, so you'd have (at least) a curve (if not a hypersurface, or even a family of hypersurfaces) in an infinite dimensional function space.In all seriousness, though, I think that practical statisticians tend to ditch all of the infinite dimensional stuff pretty quickly, and instead try to concentrate on a handful of more tractable, discrete quantities, such as:1) Length of time to reach the inflection point, and2) Height of the inflection point, and3) Length of time to reach the ultimate upper bound [or "pretty darned close" to the asymptotic limit], and4) Height of the ultimate

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