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Present Tense

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Old 06-21-2016, 04:11 PM
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I have written my first novel. Presently, I am editing the first draft, but I have a question about "Past" and "Present" tense writing. The story is written in present tense, but I have a situation where a couple of characters are discussing a historical figure. Their dialogue involves present tense, discussing the situation that is in past tense. Will this be conveyed as sloppy writing? Below are two paragraph's of the discussion. If anybody could provide some direction or advice, It would be much appreciated.

“Mr. Jackson, our first period science teacher,” Zach, replies,” said we will be learning about some of Benjamin Franklin’s electrical experiments and his famous Kite Experiment. You know me, I love a good experiment. I just hope it doesn’t get boring, since I already know a good amount about electricity, probably much more than Benjamin Franklin ever knew.”
“Boring. No way. This could be a very interesting lesson, especially, if you think of it this way.” Dad encourages. “Remember at that time, nobody, including Benjamin Franklin, understood much about electricity. So, imagine yourself in his shoes trying to understand how electricity actually works. What makes it do what it does and how, or even why? It was only through his experiments that he began to understand the simplest forms of electricity. What he was discovering was not only interesting, but it was groundbreaking. Everything was by trial and error and had to be tested to see how things would react. He logged his results, retested after removing a variable, then compared the results. Then, he would do it all over again, and again and then again.”

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Old 06-21-2016, 05:36 PM
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not really enough info here.

in general when you are writing the past, you are speaking from the standpoint of one of your characters.

having him say that the other day jack told me such and such - the such and such is in present tense because he your narrator just said it. if it is paraphrased then it remains in past

jack said "stop by tomorrow."

vis

"Jack told me to stop by tomorrow."

it's really a hard stay on the straight and narrow in the present tense.

hope that helps

max crash
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Old 06-22-2016, 04:33 AM
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Dialogue and narrative are completely different things and are handled in separate ways.
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Old 06-23-2016, 11:08 PM
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Howdy.

I always remind myself that present tense is "now" and past tense is "then".

I'm not sure why this is, but I often do a rough draft in present tense only to discover that I want to comment more and usually take the time to switch the tense in a rewrite. Which can be a pain in the ass. Maybe it's because the storytellers voice has more freedom in recalling reather than describing. Any opinions on this?

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Last edited by wrc; 06-23-2016 at 11:13 PM..
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Old 06-28-2016, 03:27 PM
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I like what you said about the Storytellers voice having more freedom in recalling rather than describing. This turned on a light bulb for me.

If the describing (present tense) is about past tense, then it should be fine. My main concern is that I do not provide sloppy writing.

Thanks for the input. It really helped.
RGC
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