Saturday, 22 September 2012

Tenses...say what?

I just recently blog posted a story in the present tense. I can hardly believe I did that, since I don't enjoy reading or writing in the present tense. But as I always say, writing is the ONE (and I think ONLY) activity where I occasionally say it's okay to "do what you feel like doing"... because when a writer has the urge to write something, in some way, it generally has to happen.

Anywaywhoo, it was quite interesting and I actually recommend it! Most books are written in the past tense (i.e. "I walked") and a few are written in the present tense ("I walk"). I don't know if "I will walk" (future tense) is ever used repeatedly for the entire book.

Obviously you can mix tense a bit...

"I ran to the store, breathing hard. I arrived in the doorway, stopping to catch my breath. I decide that I will walk home later..."

(That's only two tenses, sorry. :))

Anyway, it's an interesting exercise to write in the present tense if you don't do so normally. You can take a paragraph you've already written and re-write it. As I proof-read my blog post, I found several instances where I'd switched back to past tense! :)

I just thought I'd post about this before I became sidetracked and never posted about it before.

I think (Lordwilling) I'll put a poll on the side about this...

In the mean time...

Happy writing (or editing!?)!

-- Klara C.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

A Hero's Not a Hero Unless...

I once read in a book about writing a novel that a hero's not a hero unless he's given a chance to turn back, or in other words, say, "No. I'm not going to do such-and-such. I'm not going to do to that place (fill in the blank)" etc.

Think about it.

I'll introduce you to some heroes from my favorite books / movies...

Frodo (Lord of the Rings) - chose to go take the ring to Mordor when he could've gone back to the Shire.

Peter Pevensie (The Chronicles of Narnia. Not my favorite guy, but the first one that worked really well for the analogy I'm making here) - chooses to help save Narnia at Aslan's request.

Can you think of one?

Okay, so those are pretty easy to figure out.  What about a book / movie like Pride and Prejudice? That's a little harder. It's not a fantasy or a book about a quest. It's a book where the characters build on themselves and you get to know Mr. Darcy's true character as Elizabeth discovers it, too.  Maybe the choice is when Elizabeth begins to realize that she has acted out of prejudice, and Mr. D realizes he has acted out or pride. Thoughts?

You see, if you force your character to do exactly what you want him to, and stick him (or her, but we'll stick with "him" so I don't have to keep saying "him or her") in circumstances where he has no choice in any matter or throw him in places where there's only one escape route, he won't exactly be a hero.

Sure, you can make it tough for him. You can make it seem like there's only a few choices.  You can make it seem like he's trapped and there's no way out.  But at some point in your novel, he has to choose to be a hero. He has to choose to do the right thing. Give him the choice: his answer determines whether or not he's a hero.

-- Klara C.