I always do this in my stories and I don't know when to use them?

I always use "was" in my stories but "was" is a past tense. I mix them with my present sentences.

For example:

"After I got my paper I sat back down at the computer. The room was silent except for the sound of people typing."

I use was in a sentence but I want it to be present. Would I use "the room is silent"?

For some reason I tend to do that A LOT in my stories and I try to train myself to stop doing that. I also don't know when to use is and was. Sometimes when I use is it doesn't sound right unless I use was etc.

Can someone help and explain?

(As you can see I am not that good at literature because the school I use to go to was very low in grammar etc. But I'm going somewhere else this year and hope to get better)

- Thanks

4 Answers

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  • Mudkip
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    "After I got my paper I sat back down at the computer. The room was silent except for the sound of people typing."

    This is correct, actually. Since the rest of the sentence is in the past tense, "was" should also be in the past tense. If you wanted to put the entire sentence into the present tense, it would be:

    "After I get my paper I sit back down at the computer. The room is silent except for the sound of people typing."

    The only reason you should avoid "was" or "is" is that often, people use it when there are better words. That it's in the past tense is not an issue, but that it is in the passive IS an issue. To take it out of the passive, you would say:

    "Silence filled the room except for the sound of people typing."

  • If you want that sentence in present tense, then it should be like this:

    "After I get my paper, I sit back down at the computer. The room is silent except for the sound of people typing."

    Sometimes writing in present tense can get tricky, but to get it right every time, you will have to continue writing and get as much practice as possible. If you really want to master your grammar skills, go to your English teacher when your school year starts and ask for some private help or extra tips and rules..

    You will get it after a while.... don't stress! =)

  • 1 decade ago

    well, what I do to help is I figure it's like the character is old and telling a story to someone, like the story of his/her life. For example:

    My character's name is Jackie. When writing, I pretend that I am the main character, telling my story to the world. So I would say something like this, "The room was silent, all except for the sound of the clock ticking, which was getting quite annoying," that way, I know what tense to use. I think that if you say it any other way, it will sound incorrect.

    The only reason there would be to use present tense while writing a story is if the character is narrating while the scene is happening, for example:

    "Well, the room is pretty quiet right now," I whispered to Devin, afraid the teacher would hear me. (Even when the character is narrating, the description after the quotes is in past tense)

    I'm not sure about the other POVs, like 3rd person, because I only ever write in 1st person... hope i helped a little :)

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Is the event you're trying to describe in the past? From the opening phrase of your sentence "After I got my paper" it seems like it is; so "was" is the correct word.

    Remember if you're describing an event to your reader, then it's a recollection; a memory, and automatically you'll need to use the past tense. To really make it present tense you'd have to say "I'm taking my paper and sitting down at the computer". The vast majority of 1st person narratives are in the past tense; after all, you have to have experienced the event to be able to write about it.

    It might be in the present in terms of the time-line of the story, but it's past tense to you, and to the reader because it already happened.

    Source(s): I'm an English Teacher
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