Saturday Writing Club, Week Two, Tense
Post by Iris Carden
Each Saturday, I will give a few thoughts about writing, and a writing prompt.
If you want to take part, write your story in response to the prompt, and put the link to your story in the comments below. (Don’t have a space online to publish your story? *You can get a free WordPress site here.)
Initially, I plan to do this for six weeks. If the response is good, I’m happy to keep it going long-term.
Note: I use examples from my own books, so I don’t have to worry about copyright issues.
Writing Club Week 2 Tense
When does your story take place?
Present Tense tends to be harder to write. Its advantage is that it is immediate. What is happening is happening now. The characters don’t know what is happening next, and neither does the reader.
You might choose this if something happens in your story that can’t be told as if it had already happened.
I collect a can of lawnmower fuel from the shed in the back yard.
Next I make sure all the doors and windows are closed and the air conditioner is off. I tuck towels under the doors, to make sure there are no drafts, no air moving anywhere in the house.
I turn on all of the gas jets on the stove, without lighting them.
I take all the candles I can find to the bedroom, melt the bottoms to stick them to the bedside table, the dressing table, the top of the chest of drawers, and I light them all. We may not have much of a funeral, but we’re going out with a bang.
As the gas starts to build up, while I can still breathe I go through the medicine drawer and take every pain killer or sleeping pill I can find.
Then just to be sure that when the gas reaches its ignition point, the explosion and fire will do its job properly, I pour the mower fuel over the bed.
I open the bedroom window just a tiny bit. I want the house full of gas, but ignition will require a supply of oxygen from somewhere as well.
I think for a moment about electrocuting our brains for extra insurance, like the police officers with tasers, but my headache is unbearable, the drugs are starting to take effect, and my brain is beyond processing how to do that. Maybe I should have tried to get hold of a taser after all. It’s too late now.
I look at Ted and sigh. I had not expected to find love, but having done so, I feel cheated of time to build a life together. It’s too late. It’s far too late for anything now.
Drowsy, and a little nauseous, I climb into the bed. I kiss Ted one last time, and drift off to sleep.
(final pages of Hollywood Lied.)
Past Tense is used more frequently. It’s telling a story that has happened in the past. It feels more natural to write, because it’s the way we tell each other stories in everyday life: “I went to the shop and bumped into Jane. I hadn’t seen her in years! You’ll never guess what she’s been up to.” Because it’s the way we usually tell stories to each other, it feels comfortable to both write and read.
They sat in their usual circle, in their usual varying attitudes of attention and inattention. (from Group Meeting.)
Write a short piece, being aware of the tense you choose, and how that helps to tell the story.
In the comments to this post, add a link to your story, and explain your choice of tense and how that helps tell your story.
Don’t have a place to publish the story, so you can share the link? * You can get a free WordPress account here.
*Disclosure: If you use this link to create an account, I receive WordPress credit..
I played a bit with the whole past/present/future thing here in this short story. The protgonist in the present, is reflecting back on the past, but has the future looming. https://iriscardenauthor.wordpress.com/2022/03/07/portal-loo/