Subscribe to our FREE email newsletter and download free character development worksheets! In this interview, Weir discusses the art of writing science fiction, how to incorporate your passions into your writing and more. Post your response either here in the comments of this blog, on this FB post or on Twitter using the hashtag WritersDigestMartian.
We asked her if she could outline the advantages and disadvantages of Present Tense and Past Tense in writing. Present tense is powerful, but its power is also its limitation. Past tense — the advantages Manipulating time: The narrator can even hint at or tell bits of it.
Backstory and flashbacks are much easier to handle because there are so many more kinds of past tense than present tense. Characterisation is easier and potentially deeper when you can handle the Then and Now of your story so fluently. A Secret Alchemy Past tense — the drawbacks The events of the story are over: Present tense — the advantages Immediacy: The eternal present suits characters who forget or repress their past and future, and stories where the theme is the evanescence of the present.
It simplifies handling tenses: Combined with first person, present tense closes the gap between narrator and actor: Mathematics of Love Present tense — the drawbacks Immediacy is also inflexibility: Realism in time puts the focus on immediate experience, not wider context and understanding.
Realism in time tends to include trivia of action and setting which with past tense you could skim over at will. Unless you can convincingly pause the action, exposition and flashbacks have to be dumped into the flow of action like a stone.
This tends to limit the scope for depth of backstory and the subtle characterisation that can result. Combined with first person, the fact that a character is both narrator and actor in the present creates a sense of detachment from the events: The logical way is to use present tense for the most recent sections, and past tense for those further back in time.
But the reverse might work even better: After various jobs including publishing social work books, driving a sandwich van and selling musical instruments, her first novel The Mathematics of Love was published in and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Best First Book, and other prizes.Advice on Writing: Collected Wisdom from Modernity’s Greatest Writers “Finish each day before you begin the next, and interpose a solid wall of sleep between the two.
This you cannot do . Emma Darwin teaches creative writing and is currently working on her third novel. We asked her if she could outline the advantages and disadvantages of Present Tense and Past Tense in writing.
It’s one of the apparently simple, but huge, decisions you have to make, right at the beginning: will.
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