Using verb tenses when writing your short stories
The Past and Present Tense • One of your first decisions for as writer beginning a new story is the choice of narrative tense. • Think about the way you wish to present the actions in the world of your story. You must decide what is the when of story. • Do the narrator and main characters see actions and events as happening in the past or do they act as if the events are happening right now?
Readers pay closer attention to story since format is a little unfamiliar. Readers can have a deeper involvement in the story. • Thepresent tense makes story action and events more immediate. • When readers read a story in the present tense, they have to believe that story events are happening at the very moment they’re reading. It’s difficult to believe for some readers since they know the story events are not happening in the present. Readers can get over this, but reader perception is something to consider when you choose your narrative tense. UsingThe Present Tense As your narrative tense
The past tense is familiar to readers, as they don’t have to adjust when they begin a story written using past tense. There might well be an adjustment period for readers of present-tense stories. • Verbs used in the past tense make story events seem more immediate. Since there’s no adjustment needed, readers can imagine themselves in the story from page one. http://www.brainpop.com/english/grammar/tenses/ Pros ofThe Past Tense
Past or Present? • At your tables, think about the following: • Which tenses are used in ‘The King’s Fountain”? • In the narrative text, which tense or tenses are used the most? • In the dialogue, which tense or tenses are used the most?
The King’s Fountain A king once planned to build a magnificent fountain in his palace gardens, for the splendor of his kingdom and the glory of his name. This fountain, however, would stop all water from flowing to the city below. A poor man heard of it, and said to his wife: “ Soon our children will cry for water, our animals will sicken, and all of us will die of thirst.” His wife answered: “A man of highest learning must go to the King, speak to him out of wisdom, and show him the folly of his plan.” …The poor man wished for one drop of the metalsmith’s bravery. With his own last ounce of courage, he answered, “You have the power to kill me. But that changes nothing.” …”You are too simple for clever debate with me,”the king said, “but you have a wiser head than a scholar.”
If you need more practice… • See Ms Matthew or Ms Hawkinson • See the following slides (on the blog) • Review handout sheets provided • Practice using the fill-in-the-blank worksheets • Watch ‘tenses’ again on BrainPop.
Present & Past Tenses Look at how many ways you can use tenses in your stories.
Simple present I eat, you eat, he (she, it) eats; we eat, you eat, they eat Used to describe actions or events that take place at the time of speaking, or to describe habitual actions.
Simple past I ate, you ate, he (she, it) ate; We ate, you ate, they ate Used to describe events that took place in the past.
Present progressive(Or Present Continuous) I am eating, you are eating, he (she, it) is eating,; we are eating, you are eating, they are eating Used to express action that is on-going at the time of speaking.
Past progressive(or Past Continuous, Imperfect) I was eating, you were eating, he (she, it) was eating; we were eating, you were eating, they were eating Describes on-going action in the past.
Present perfect I have eaten, you have eaten, he (she, it) has eaten; we have eaten, you have eaten, they have eaten Used to express action completed in the present.
Past Perfect I had eaten, you had eaten, he (she, it) had eaten; we had eaten, you had eaten, they had eaten Expresses the idea that something occurred before another action in the past. It can also show that something happened before a specific time in the past.
Present perfect progressive I have been eating, you have been eating, he (she, it) has been eating; we have been eating, you have been eating, they have been eating Emphasizes the ongoing nature of an action that began in the past and continues in the present.
Yesterday morning I got up and looked out of the window. The sun was shining, but the ground was very wet. It had been raining. It was not raining when I looked out of the window; the sun was shining. But it had been raining before. Past perfect progressive I had been eating, you had been eating, he (she, it) had been eating; we had been eating, you had been eating, they had been eating Points to an activity or situation that was ongoing in the past.
Sources http://theeditorsblog.net http://www.englishpage.com