Tag Archives: present

Tense Issues

I try not to bitch too much on here. I would rather keep things positive, but I do want this blog to be helpful. I don’t write a lot about politics, religion or deeply controversial issues, because I don’t really care to argue with walls. I read a great deal of indie work. I only put books on my blog that I feel I can recommend. I’m fairly liberal about what I enjoy. There have been many books in this past year of having been introduced to indie writers that have impressed me greatly.

Sometimes I have been impressed with the stories, but technicalities have resulted in me feeling that I could not recommend the books to others. I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy them, but the errors were so severe that I did not feel comfortable passing it along to you as example of something that I would encourage you to read. There are issues, usually with the writing, that have caused me to hesitate or put them aside without recommendation. Remember, word-of-mouth is your greatest marketing tool.

Excessive typos, misspellings, and the obvious misuse of words; like they’re, their, and there, and your and you’re, could of, and would of drive me nuts, but I can tolerate some of that. There are other things that are more subtle, yet most annoying.

Tense issues: These seem to be the most difficult for writers to wrap their heads around. Primarily, books are written in past or present tense. If you start in past, you should stay in past. If you start in present, you should stay in present. It spins my mind around to keep switching between the two.

Examples:

A)

Dusk on the bay is a most beautiful time. Boats are bringing in the catch of a long day at sea. The village lights come on one by one. There is movement in the water, but the air is still. The soft murmur of marine motors and the call of the gulls waiting for fish scraps are the only sounds. Our sleepy little fishing village has roughly three dozen homes and one store. There is a diner and bar at one end and a church at the other.

Captain John’s dog, Frisk, leapt from the boat as the captain idled to the dock. Frisk ran up the pier to greet me. He knew I would be waiting with a bowl of fresh water and a dog treat. I waited for him every evening. The captain was getting old and his wife had died five years earlier. He walked like he was dragging the weight of the world behind him. When the captain was finished with his chores he always met me in the diner for dinner. We shared a meal and a few stories and then he walked me home.

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B)

Dusk on the bay was a most beautiful time. Boats brought in the catch of a long day at sea. The village lights came on one by one. There was movement in the water, but the air was still. The soft murmur of marine motors and the call of the gulls waiting for fish scraps were the only sounds. Our sleepy little fishing village had roughly three dozen homes and one store. There was a diner and bar at one end and a church at the other.

Captain John’s dog, Frisk, leaps from the boat as the captain idles to the dock. Frisk runs up the pier to greet me. He knows I will be waiting with a bowl of fresh water and a dog treat. I wait for him every evening. The captain is getting old and his wife died five years ago. He walks like he’s dragging the weight of the world behind him. When the captain finishes with his chores he always meets me in the diner for dinner. We share a meal and a few stories and then he walks me home.

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C)

Dusk on the bay is a most beautiful time. Boats are bringing in the catch of a long day at sea. The village lights come on one by one. There is movement in the water, but the air is still. The soft murmur of marine motors and the call of the gulls waiting for fish scraps are the only sounds. Our sleepy little fishing village has roughly three dozen homes and one store. There is a diner and bar at one end and a church at the other.

Captain John’s dog, Frisk, leaps from the boat as the captain idles to the dock. Frisk runs up the pier to greet me. He knows I will be waiting with a bowl of fresh water and a dog treat. I wait for him every evening. The captain is getting old and his wife died five years ago. He walks like he’s dragging the weight of the world behind him. When the captain finishes with his chores he always meets me in the diner for dinner. We share a meal and a few stories and then he walks me home.

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D)

Dusk on the bay was a most beautiful time. Boats brought in the catch of a long day at sea. The village lights came on one by one. There was movement in the water, but the air was still. The soft murmur of marine motors and the call of the gulls waiting for fish scraps were the only sounds. Our sleepy little fishing village had roughly three dozen homes and one store. There was a diner and bar at one end and a church at the other.

Captain John’s dog, Frisk, leapt from the boat as the captain idled to the dock. Frisk ran up the pier to greet me. He knew I would be waiting with a bowl of fresh water and a dog treat. I waited for him every evening. The captain was getting old and his wife had died five years earlier. He walked like he was dragging the weight of the world behind him. When the captain was finished with his chores he always met me in the diner for dinner. We shared a meal and a few stories and then he walked me home.

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Past is fine. Present is fine. Mixing the two is not fine. This is why we have beta readers and editors.

This is NOT a style thing people, it is a grammar thing.

These examples are of different paragraphs, but I have seen writers mix the two tenses in the same paragraph or even the same sentence. You can be in present tense and have something happen in the past that the narrator tells about, but as a general writing rule, be careful with that. Yanking me around from past to present without a story about time travel is a sure fire way for me to put your book aside.

Most indie reads are wonderful, fresh, creative stories. But writing does have some basic rules.

Another issue I have is head-hopping from person to person, but that’s a subject for another day.

Do you understand tense differences?

Which reads more smoothly to you? A) and B), or C) and D)?

Does changing tense bother you when you read?

That Was Then, This Is Now, And Then There’s Tomorrow

I have been reading a lot of commercial genre fiction lately. I’m not knocking it. It serves a purpose, to entertain, but sometimes you just need something deeper. A more cerebral read, not heavy, but profound.

It is a challenge to find a book like that. Contemporary fiction often does not appeal to me…it’s too much of real life problems and miseries of everyday living. The classics are always good, but when you have read so many of them, you need something fresh. Contemporary literary fiction with excellent prose is hard to find these days.

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I spent some time in my youth on a pot farm in the middle of the North Georgia Mountains. Those were my hippie days. Being emancipated at the age of fifteen after living in foster care and an orphanage for most of my childhood the communal lifestyle was appealing to me. I hung out with a little older crowd.

I had friends I’ll probably never see again, except maybe on Facebook: Jimmy and Mike Bullington, David Hanson, Leigh Ann Jennings, Anne and Stephen Liner, Chris Mobbs, Sheila Reddin (the Sherriff’s daughter) Kevin (deceased), Bryan, and David Hutto. (Was briefly married to one of those.) The names are not so important, but our lives were enmeshed during a most enlightening era.

You seriously have to lose the notion of sex, drugs, and rock and roll being the dominating factors if you want to truly understand that time period and how it influenced so much of what this generation was…, no, is. Not that those elements were not, at least loosely, associated with that experience of coming of age, but they weren’t the be-all, end-all of it. Most of us lived on the fringes. It was a magical time in more ways than one.

What was most significant was the coming of age in a time period that allowed all of us the freedom to develop relationships and make mistakes that promoted a development of ideals without having to be directly taught what those ideals should or should not be. It was a wild time, yet a humanity managed to emerge that ushered in a gentler devotion to nature, peace, love and accepting the differences that exist in all of us, that make us wonderfully unique, and yet one.

There is a blogger who published a book a couple of years ago. His name is Mike Grant. He’s a quiet, laid back, older fellow who posts on occasion, but not often. When he has something to say, it is usually quite insightful, so I ventured to read his book. I was a little wary when I read the book description, (which I now feel does not do the book justice, I’ll say), and saw no reviews on Amazon and only a couple on Goodreads. I found a couple online and they were all positive. Then I read the Look Inside. I was hooked on reading the introduction. This is a book everyone from age 20 to 80 should read.

Tomorrow I will post my review of his exceptionally well-written book, “White Wolf Moon”.

Mike’s an old hippie, like me, and he told my story in 2012, before we ever had chance to meet online. I won’t tell you which character I was, but it’s all there. I went on to become a yuppie, and eventually evolved into a city dweller, but some things you just never forget. More than my story, in his wisdom, he tells the story of generations yet to come.

Have you ever found a book you could relate to so well you could swear someone spied on you?

Maybe they reached inside and tapped your soul?