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August 7, 2012
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Writerfriends, how do you decide what tense to write a story in?

I swear, I get hung up on tense every single time I start a new fic.
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:iconrustypinhead:
That's a good question. I get stuck trying to decide too, sometimes. :p I'm still just learning, but here are my thoughts anyway. I think I base the decision on how I want the character to sound, like past tense sounds slower and more contemplative but present tense feels faster and it's like we're there in that moment with the character. I'm not sure what is usually the deciding factor. That said, I love CoffeeMinx's answer. It makes a lot of sense.
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:iconanneapocalypse:
anneapocalypse Aug 8, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
That's a very good point about speed. That might be an unconscious (until now) reason I'm leaning toward past for what I'm currently writing, because it needs to feel a little slower and more thoughtful.
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:iconrustypinhead:
I actually didn't think about my own reasons either, until you posted the question. :D

Good luck with the writing, Anne!
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:iconcoffeeminx:
CoffeeMinx Aug 7, 2012  Professional Writer
I always write in past tense because that's the "acceptable" tense for genre fiction, so it's habit. Present tense used to be considered pretentious artsy. Now present tense is fairly mainstream and you see it all the time in fanfiction.

People who like present tense say it brings an immediacy to the action. It also means that the narrator might not survive the story.

Past tense automatically means the narrator survived the scene since they're telling it after the fact.
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:iconanneapocalypse:
anneapocalypse Aug 8, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Yeah, and I think it depends a lot on the narrator too (survival aside), whether their story is in past or present. I think present was absolutely the right choice for Tunnel O' Love. The newer project I'm working on, I had started in present too, but something about it... the main character's voice just seems to fall a little flat in present. So I'm probably going to switch it to past and see how it goes.
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