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rossmart34
03-04-2008, 01:20 AM
Okay. I have never written a novel before so, I'm learning as I go.

I would really appreciate some input on a question I have.

In writing, I find it much easier to write in a present tense--at least I think it's present. I'm sure it's not past.

Here is an example:



Off to one side a number of Moldavs are becoming more and more angry. More and more emboldened. A young soldier begins to speak softly, but emphatically, to his comrades closest to him.

Craning his neck from side to side, Antonio searches out the trouble maker and sizes him up. He turns his head to the left and gives his Cahpitan an order only the two of them can hear.

“Bring that one to me.”

Yuri bows his head in obeisance and begins making his way towards the Moldav ruffian, harshly pushing aside anyone in his path. Right hand crossing his body to grasp his sword’s hilt he points out the Moldav from a few paces away and shouts at him.

“You there! ... YOU! Get your filthy ass up here! ... NOW!”

Doing his best to maintain an air of bravado, the young Moldav soldier makes his way to the front of the group and slowly walks over to where his captor points, as the tall Serstian follows closely alongside, his hand ever upon his sword–ready to draw it and strike him down.

A few paces away from the one who is obviously the leader, Stolov hears the tall Serstian’s sword slowly leave its sheath menacingly, tsssssssssssssssssssssssssshink. Taking the action as a warning, he stops and faces the man outfitted in the fine, shiny armor and exotic wolf’s head helmet.

Removing his helmet and calmly handing it aside to one of his soldiers, Antonio Corrent eyes the captive standing before him.

After only a few seconds of searching the leader’s eye’s an eerie feeling of foreboding claws at Stolov’s insides causing goosebumps to rise upon his skin. He hopes nobody notices.

The leader speaks to him using the common tongue, heavily-accented with Alturran.

“Why have you come to this land, Moldav?”

Unsure of exactly how he should answer, Stolov hesitates slightly, then finds his voice.

“It is the land of my ancestors. I can come and–“

“ THIS land is Alturran land. Belonging to the Alturran peoples,” the words come out from between the Crown Prince’s teeth as little more than a hiss. Taking a steadying breath he gathers himself then continues. “ The only right your ancestors have here is that they sleep peacefully and silently while the living go about living. And you, pig, you have no claim and no right to anything within these borders.”

A silent snarl curls his lips and wrinkles Stolov’s nose. He unconsciously stands straighter and taller as he clenches and unclenches his fists at his sides. But sensing the anxiousness within the Serstian standing to his left and slightly behind him, he bites his tongue until he is sure he can answer calmly.

“Arrogant Alturran bastard...” Stolov’s courage builds and he eyes the pompous leader standing before him from head to toe derisively.

“Bastard I am not, pig. I am the son of Diego Corrent.” Antonio’s words are delivered calmly and evenly, his anger and disgust in check.

Stolov’s eyes bulge out of their sockets at the words. Could it really be? The son of that bastard Diego Corrent? Here?

Sneering, Antonio chuckles at the Moldav’s inability to conceal his surpirse.

“Why do you find this so hard to believe... pig?” His disdain and the emphasis on the word pig contort the Moldav’s dirty face and Antonio laughs heartily.

“After your father was killed and his head stabbed onto a spike at Zeddaya, no Moldav ever thought to see you here.” Stolov’s tiny sense of victory and the sneer at the corner of his mouth evaporate under the Alturran’s scorching glare.

Antonio straightens himself as he prepares to speak and the Moldav flinches slightly.

“Remove my armor.” Antonio Corrent’s order is spoken calmly. Evenly. Menacingly. His eyes stay firmly fixed upon Stolov’s as he speaks. Two aides de camp rush forward and begin frantically working at the buckles of his back and breastplates while he holds his arms up slightly. The aides kneel and tear at the leather straps holding together the cuisses, greaves and sabatons at his thighs, shins and feet.

Stolov stands transfixed, his mind racing, as the Alturran’s armor is practically ripped from his body. He is unsettled by the hard, unwavering stare of the Alturran.

“Cahpitan Danzink.” Antonio's eyes never leave the eyes of the Moldav captive.

Yuri moves a few paces nearer, stopping to one side of the leader and bowing his head slightly “Principi.”

“The pig’s weapon.”

At the words Yuri uncomfortably looks over at one of the officer’s standing nearby. The officer gives him an unsure look of his own in return. He stands straight and addresses him firmly. “Tennente Ahbrego.”

The tennente hurries over to stand before the tall Serstian, snaps to attention, then bows his head slightly. “Sir.”

“Give the Moldav his weapon.”

The tennente nervously looks off to one side for a split second, unsure of how to procede, then speaks, “Sir?”

Yuri lays his stare fully upon the tennente. “His weapon Ahbrego. Get it. Give it to him.”

“How do I know which one is his, sir?” The tennente tries to make his query sound as reasonable as possible.

“Are all of the Moldav weapons gathered and stored Ahbrego?” Yuri speaks calmly and slowly.

“Yes Cahpitan.”

Then take this bastard to where the weapons are and have him find his own.”

The tennente pushes and guides the Moldav rogue over towards the weapons cache.

“Move damn you! Over there! By the horse pickets!” The tennente draws his sword threateningly as the Moldav stops and gives him a challenging stare. “Go ahead damn you–save me the trouble of bothering with you, you filthy, murdering scum...”

Stolov immediately recognizes that the officer is not making hollow threats. It is obvious in the way he holds his weapon, his hand repeatedly clenching the leather-bound handle of the sword restlessly; in the way his face betrays no emotion; and, in the way his voice is totally calm and monotone. Best to remain poised and see what becomes of his being armed than to be hacked apart by an Alturran officer who obviously believes butchering a Moldav criminal is easier work than finding a sword from the large cache of confiscated weapons.

Stolov is allowed to dig through the confiscated Moldav weapons and finds his own sword.

Escorting the captive back to where the officers stand, Ahbrego bows to Yuri and Antonio, then moves back to his position helping guard the other prisoners.

Standing to Antonio’s right, Yuri Danzink shifts his weight from foot-to-foot, not liking the direction the events are taking.

Antonio keeps his eyes locked onto Stolov’s as he unfastens his sword belt then calls out to one of his aides, “DiGarro.”

Antonio hands his sword, its sheath and belt to his aide without ever looking at him. “Go and fetch my axes.”

The aide gathers the Crown Prince’s sword and rig into his arms, takes a large step backward head still bowed, then turns and hurries off to get the Crown Prince’s axes.

Yuri clears his throat gruffly then addresses his leader. “Principi..?”

Before Yuri can question his intentions any further Antonio addresses the Moldav so that all can hear him clearly. “I offer you an honor you do not deserve you filthy, murdering coward.” Antonio’s eyes burn into Stolov’s, his face contorting with anger. “I challenge you to single combat.”

Unsure how to procede, Stolov remains silent, his eyes shifting from the Son of Diego, over to the tall Serstian at his side and back again. Then he nods his head once in acceptance of the challenge.

“Now hear me! All of you!” Antonio shouts as loud as he possibly can, his eyes never leaving Stolov’s. “Should this filthy murdering pig best me in single combat, I command that he–along with 5 men of his choosing–be escorted North to the border and set free.”

A rumble of disbelief and astonishment emanates from the Alturran soldiers.

The sounds of disgruntlement quickly die out as Antonio turns his gaze away from the Moldav prisoner standing before him to seek out anyone voicing disagreement with his orders. The men, sensing their leader’s current mood, quickly fall silent and lower their eyes whenever the Crown Prince’s gaze falls upon them.

“The men are to be escorted North! Provisioned with food and water along the way! And given their weapons at the border before they are released!”

Antonio looks to his second standing beside him, then moves his gaze around to his men. “I command this!”

Every Alturran bows his head slightly at the invocation of the Crown Prince’s authority, something he rarely ever did.

Antonio’s aide, Paolo DiGarro, comes running. He pulls to a sliding stop before the Crown Prince, bows his head slightly and offers up two battle axes. Antonio takes hold of the axes and studies them briefly. Waves them before him, goes through slow windmilling motions with his right arm, left, right, left–reacquainting himself with the weapons’ hefts and balances. His movements are fluid. The axes cut slow, circular swaths before him.



What I am trying to do is make the story as close to "real time" as possible. Does this make any sense?

Depending on the amount of work I put into this, could this work?

BlueLucario
03-04-2008, 01:23 AM
Well, i can tell you this,. first of all you're posting in the wrong thread and second, readers are more used to past tense writing, but it doesn't matter if you prefer writing in present tense

This belongs in the SYW board.

Oh and

WELCOME

To AW!!!!!!!:welcome:

:PartySmil

rossmart34
03-04-2008, 01:24 AM
Well, i can tell you this,. first of all you're posting in the wrong thread and second, readers are more used to past tense writing, but it doesn't matter if you prefer writing in present tense

This belongs in the SYW board.

Ah, okay. I'm still kinda new here and trying to figure things out. Thanks.

BlueLucario
03-04-2008, 01:27 AM
Ah, okay. I'm still kinda new here and trying to figure things out. Thanks.

ol it's okay, I did the same thing when I first joined, TWICE!

Mr Flibble
03-04-2008, 01:34 AM
There have been several books written in present tense ( including a Booker Prize winner whose name escapes me) so it's not a 'Never do it' thing.

And yup, post it in the SYW forum and see what peoples think

:welcome:

Marian Perera
03-04-2008, 01:38 AM
Bright Lights, Big City?

Mr Flibble
03-04-2008, 01:39 AM
Wasn't that second person?

I was thinking of Disgrace.

rossmart34
03-04-2008, 01:41 AM
I'm going to repost it in the fantasy forum.

Thanks for the input everyone. And for the warm welcome.

All of the books I've ever read have been written in the past tense but, I just feel a smoother flow when I write in the present.

Thanks again for the input.

Marian Perera
03-04-2008, 01:42 AM
I thought it was second person present tense.

http://www.univie.ac.at/Anglistik/easyrider/data/brightpage.htm

Mr Flibble
03-04-2008, 01:44 AM
oops my bad - I knew I'd heard it was in second, but didn't know it was present too. Must actually get around to reading it.

And that's my one thing new I've learned today :)

Linda Adams
03-04-2008, 02:09 AM
I was looking through recent reviews from the Washington Post (they post the first chapters of books online). Judging from those, there's quite a few books being published in present tense.

Danger Jane
03-04-2008, 06:21 AM
Hey!

If you're asking for a critique, yeah, SYW is the place to be. But you just want to know if present tense is okay, right? So BWQ is probably fine. Also, if a thread needs to be moved, no need to repost it--we have awesome mods who will move it to the appropriate forum without breaking a sweat.

Your excerpt is present tense, yeah, and like Blue pointed out, it can turn off some readers, but plenty of people are willing to read present tense stories, so go ahead and write it in present. You can't please every reader anyway. Present tense is my preferred tense, too. It can certainly work to great effect.

maestrowork
03-04-2008, 07:07 AM
My novel, THE PACIFIC BETWEEN, was written in first person/present tense, so was Patricia Wood's LOTTERY. There are many successful first/present novels out there (FIGHT CLUB, for example).

I think present tense can work beautifully for some stories, especially told in first person. With third person, it is a bit odd, and are often limited to literary fiction since 3rd/present is not very common or natural in story telling.

rossmart34
03-04-2008, 07:09 AM
Okay, thanks.

I was kinda waiting to see if a mod would move the post for me--I didn't want to repost it if it could just be moved.

I don't know why, I just feel more comfortable writing in present tense. I've read that past, third person limited is the norm but, try as I may, I always find myself drifting back into present tense--I'm just thinking that maybe it's my voice; you know?

Thanks for the input.

rossmart34
03-04-2008, 07:11 AM
My novel, THE PACIFIC BETWEEN, was written in first person/present tense, so was Patricia Wood's LOTTERY. There are many successful first/present novels out there (FIGHT CLUB, for example).

I think present tense can work beautifully for some stories, especially told in first person. With third person, it is a bit odd, and are often limited to literary fiction since 3rd/present is not very common or natural in story telling.

Even though my story is going to be fantasy, I get the sense that writing it in the present tense will covey a sense of believability about it. Odd as that may sound it's just how I feel.

Thank you for the post.

maestrowork
03-04-2008, 07:15 AM
It may work if you have a very strong omniscient narrator -- it may give off the impression that the God-like narrator is telling the story as it unfolds in real time, if that's the feeling you want to evoke.

Matera the Mad
03-04-2008, 08:23 AM
Real time is in the mind of the reader. If the scene is vividly and clearly written, I am there. To read third person present, I make a mental shift of gears. I am not accustomed to maintaining that shift for a whole novel. Therefore, I can't be sure how it would affect me as a reader. Might, might not. I have adapted to a lot of different voices in my reading life. What the hey, do it.

Mud Dauber
03-06-2008, 06:48 PM
I think present tense can work beautifully for some stories, especially told in first person. With third person, it is a bit odd, and are often limited to literary fiction since 3rd/present is not very common or natural in story telling.
I'm currently reading Susan Breen's The Fiction Class written in third person/present, and her opening hooked me so quickly that I didn't even realize what tense it was in.

I just wanted to put that out there because the bottom line in writing your story is: if it works... go for it!:)

rossmart34
03-06-2008, 10:14 PM
I'm currently reading Susan Breen's The Fiction Class written in third person/present, and her opening hooked me so quickly that I didn't even realize what tense it was in.

I just wanted to put that out there because the bottom line in writing your story is: if it works... go for it!:)

Okay, cool.

I am going to have a look at that book you mentioned and see how she worked with it.

Thanks again.

the cat came back
03-06-2008, 10:37 PM
You can write in any person or tense you like.

It's just that you will create different effects. Choose the one that suits your story.

giusti
03-09-2008, 08:48 AM
First of all, the only reason that most books are in past tense, is because present tense is new. Very new. It used to be that all books were written in past tense. This comes purely from habit, as all writing comes from mythology and legends. But there is nothing wrong with present tense, especially if you feel more comfortable with it. I would advise to at least try writing a few short stories or a novel in past, to test it out, expand your skills, etc, but that is not strictly needed.

As for the writing itself, I thought that if you are indeed fairly new at this, then you have skipped many of the beginners' mistakes. While on this subject, what impressed me was that you could stick to your tense. I have seen many a writer who has been utterly unable to stay either present or past tense, but switches back and forth.

If you don't mind, however, I would like to list a few corrections that I saw. If you do mind, of course, feel free to skip over them, or ask me to edit my post, and I'll take them out.

- YOU! Get your filthy ass up here! ... NOW!

- tsssssssssssssssssssssssssshink

- “ THIS land is Alturran land. Belonging to the Alturran peoples,”

Most editors despise this. They really have no reason for such a hatred, but keep in mind that this is a novel. Editors search anywhere they can for a reason to give up on reading a novel. These kind of embellishments will usually set them off to a new writer. If the first example, just remove the caps. I think you'll find that "You!" and "Now!" are just as effective. For the second one, just chop a few s's (<-- also don't do this 's to show plurals are like sins to most editors). In the third, simply make it italics, rather than caps, as this one is all about stressing the word "This" in that sentence. Other things to keep away from are multiple ending marks (?!, !?, and especially !!!) and bold. All rules can be broken, but wait until you've shown that you can keep to them first.

- “His weapon Ahbrego.

- “Are all of the Moldav weapons gathered and stored Ahbrego?”

- “Yes Cahpitan."

- Then take this bastard to where the weapons are and have him find his own.”

The first three need commas. After weapon, after stored, after yes. The fourth simply needs another quotation. Simple typo.

Overall, I am impressed with this excerpt. You also seem to have skipped, or already learned of adjectives. If you don't mind me saying, you seem fairly young, perhaps in your twenties. If I assume right (could be wrong), you have probably grown up with the crap that they serve in English class. e.g. "Be as descriptive as possible." True, you should be descriptive, but not, as many do, by creating a story overladen with adjectives and adverbs. Many English teachers could use a dose of Hemingway. But I think you have found a nice balance in your descriptions. Kudos.

-giusti

Edit: also watch your semicolons and dashes. Your semicolons are technically used properly, but it borders on improper list format (Read Strunk and White's Elements of Style). As for your dashes, write them as "--" rather than "-". "Either your word processor will turn them into the proper em dash, "–" (difference being that it is twice as long as an en dash: - em dash: – ), or it will remain two en dashes, either of which is acceptable to an editor.

JacobWorld
03-16-2008, 07:07 AM
Very interesting idea but I find it a bit confusing .
when it come to past before past it may get a bit weird

eyeblink
03-16-2008, 02:34 PM
Present tense isn't *that* new. It certainly came into fashion in the 1960s, but there are quite a few examples from before that. Take a look at Dickens's Bleak House for one - half of it is third person present (omniscient narrator) and half of it first past (narrated by Esther Summerson).

From the 1930s, there's Joyce Cary's Mister Johnson. And Damon Runyon was well-known for his present-tense short stories.

However, when John Updike was writing his novel Rabbit, Run in 1960, he was conscious he was doing something out of the ordinary by writing in third present. In his case, he was particularly influenced by film narrative - and scripts are written in present tense.

rossmart34
03-19-2008, 11:55 PM
It may work if you have a very strong omniscient narrator -- it may give off the impression that the God-like narrator is telling the story as it unfolds in real time, if that's the feeling you want to evoke.

That is exactly what I am doing; my narrator comes in to give back story so it doesn't come across as too linear or boring. I'm not sure if that makes sense or not..?

rossmart34
03-20-2008, 12:00 AM
First of all, the only reason that most books are in past tense, is because present tense is new. Very new. It used to be that all books were written in past tense. This comes purely from habit, as all writing comes from mythology and legends. But there is nothing wrong with present tense, especially if you feel more comfortable with it. I would advise to at least try writing a few short stories or a novel in past, to test it out, expand your skills, etc, but that is not strictly needed.

As for the writing itself, I thought that if you are indeed fairly new at this, then you have skipped many of the beginners' mistakes. While on this subject, what impressed me was that you could stick to your tense. I have seen many a writer who has been utterly unable to stay either present or past tense, but switches back and forth.

If you don't mind, however, I would like to list a few corrections that I saw. If you do mind, of course, feel free to skip over them, or ask me to edit my post, and I'll take them out.

- YOU! Get your filthy ass up here! ... NOW!

- tsssssssssssssssssssssssssshink

- “ THIS land is Alturran land. Belonging to the Alturran peoples,”

Most editors despise this. They really have no reason for such a hatred, but keep in mind that this is a novel. Editors search anywhere they can for a reason to give up on reading a novel. These kind of embellishments will usually set them off to a new writer. If the first example, just remove the caps. I think you'll find that "You!" and "Now!" are just as effective. For the second one, just chop a few s's (<-- also don't do this 's to show plurals are like sins to most editors). In the third, simply make it italics, rather than caps, as this one is all about stressing the word "This" in that sentence. Other things to keep away from are multiple ending marks (?!, !?, and especially !!!) and bold. All rules can be broken, but wait until you've shown that you can keep to them first.

- “His weapon Ahbrego.

- “Are all of the Moldav weapons gathered and stored Ahbrego?”

- “Yes Cahpitan."

- Then take this bastard to where the weapons are and have him find his own.”

The first three need commas. After weapon, after stored, after yes. The fourth simply needs another quotation. Simple typo.

Overall, I am impressed with this excerpt. You also seem to have skipped, or already learned of adjectives. If you don't mind me saying, you seem fairly young, perhaps in your twenties. If I assume right (could be wrong), you have probably grown up with the crap that they serve in English class. e.g. "Be as descriptive as possible." True, you should be descriptive, but not, as many do, by creating a story overladen with adjectives and adverbs. Many English teachers could use a dose of Hemingway. But I think you have found a nice balance in your descriptions. Kudos.

-giusti

Edit: also watch your semicolons and dashes. Your semicolons are technically used properly, but it borders on improper list format (Read Strunk and White's Elements of Style). As for your dashes, write them as "--" rather than "-". "Either your word processor will turn them into the proper em dash, "–" (difference being that it is twice as long as an en dash: - em dash: – ), or it will remain two en dashes, either of which is acceptable to an editor.

Yeah, I see exactly what you are saying.

I just took this off of a draft I have here. I try to write out my story as it comes, to get it down "on paper" as quickly as possible while it's still fresh in my mind. I go back and edit out my punctuation clutter or mistakes later.

Thanks for the input.

Sorry I took so long to answer you guys but my job has me traveling a lot and I am away from my comp for days at a time sometimes.