Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesBooks & Authors · 4 months ago

Would you describe characters in past tense or in present tense when writing?

I m trying to write something (it s my first time so I m not great) and can t figure out how I should do this. The story is written in present tense, so for example:

If one sentence is "Tom walks across the street." which of the following would be appropriate?

"Tom was a nice kid, and he did well in school." or "Tom is a nice kid, and he does well in school."

10 Answers

Relevance
  • Tony B
    Lv 7
    4 months ago

    That's the problem (one of them) with writing in the present tense!

    You need to stick to the present tense unless you are referring to something that happened or only applied in the past. If you're writing in the present tense and say, “Tom was a nice kid and he did well in school” then you're effectively saying that he's not a nice kid now, and he isn't doing well in school. That might be the case if he's not at school now or if something's happened to change him. If you say he “Is a nice kid” and he “does well in school” then he's still a nice kid and is still doing well in school - that's the case NOW.

    Writing in the present tense certainly isn't something I'd want to try doing, nor would I really want to read something like that.

  • Andrew
    Lv 7
    4 months ago

    If I were you, I would describe them in the past perfect progressive, just to throw things off and spice it up a little, and I mean, let's face it, nobody's going to read your present tense drivel anyway, so who cares?

    "Tom had been a nice kid. And he had been doing well in school."

    The reader will be thinking "Wait, is Tom dead? What's going on here?"

    And then you come back with "Tom walks across the street. He sees that dame from history class - the brunette with the gazungas, Tracy Trapani...

    "Tracy had been a nice kid. And she had been doing well in school."

    It'll be fantastic.

    This stuff just writes itself really.

  • Joseph
    Lv 6
    4 months ago

    Present tense is a *****, try it, describe eating a sandwich in present tense...

  • 4 months ago

    You can have the action in the present tense and still describe in the past tense.

    For example. Tom walks across the street, striding briskly and swinging his arms. (He was a nice kid and was doing well in school). There he goes now, entering the cinema, waving to his girlfriend who is waiting inside. He had been feeling quite depressed earlier in the day, because the letter he'd been expecting hadn't arrived, yet again.

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 4 months ago

    Maybe you should read more before you think about writing. Once you've read maybe 20 books you'll have a much better idea of how writers handle this basic stuff.

    If you're not sure, imagine yourself sitting round a camp fire telling a story about something that happened to you when you were young. You would naturally tell it in the past tense: 'One day I was going to school when I saw a tiger outside the library. It was a real tiger, not a toy, and it was just sitting there staring around. I stopped and looked' ... etc etc.

    All of this is in the past, because you're telling a story about something that happened in the past. Yes, lots of people do it in the present tense, as if it was happening right now, but inexperienced writers find it hard to stick to it.

    The past tense is MUCH easier to use. That's why the overwhelming majority of stories ever written were written in the past tense.

  • 4 months ago

    If you are using present tense, you write it all in present tense, so Tom is a nice kid who does well in school.

    I recommend past tense for the whole thing though.

  • Cogito
    Lv 7
    4 months ago

    It's very difficult to write anything well in the present tense.

    My advice would be to write in the past tense.

  • 4 months ago

    Make Tom a multi-dimensional character who exists in all times at once, and who is one with the All. Should be easy enough.

  • gerald
    Lv 7
    4 months ago

    how old is Tom is the problem ,

  • 4 months ago

    This is one of the things you need to consider about your story. Are you giving back ground to your character Tom? If so, then "tom was a nice kid and did well in school." If you're using the situation to add color to the present action, then the latter would be better.

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.