Why So Tense?
Jul 09, 2013
Are you two tense? Rather, do you use two tenses in your writing? This can be a cardinal sin in writing and something that makes an idea very hard to follow. When you’re writing something that “is” happening, make sure that it continues to happen “now” and doesn’t suddenly become a past or future event. What exactly do I mean by this?
Let’s take this example:
“Eric runs down the alley trying to get away from the pack of stray dogs. He sees a wall in front of him and realizes it’s a dead end. He is trapped!”
This is written entirely in present tense using words like “sees” and “is.” Let’s try to re-write this again but put it in past tense.
“Eric ran down the alley in an attempt to get away from the pack of stray dogs. He stopped when he realized it was a dead end. He was trapped!”
Here we see words like “was” and “ran.” The action is still essentially the same. It’s just a matter of when we are telling about it. How about one more example where things are mixed up?
“Eric runs down the alley trying to get away from the pack of stray dogs. He stopped when he realized it was a dead end. He is trapped!”
It doesn’t read quite right does it? This is such an easy thing to do when you’re furiously writing and I even find myself guilty of it from time to time. The important thing is to go back and read through what you have written to make sure it all agrees. I highly recommend reading things out loud to yourself or even to a trusted friend. Others can often hear things that slip right past your ears.