Writing Books/tense


I do understand that no second person can tell one which writing style to exactly adopt but i just wanted a little information as in ..according to the theme..its like a narrative so isnt there any kind of tense or writing style that you can suggest? I could use it as a refernce atleast. Thanks

Hi, Nitasha!

I saw your question in the pool, and thought I'd try to help you out. You can use either past or present tense to tell a story---whether fiction or non-fiction. I prefer to use "near-past" tense, which is the equivalent of standing right behind a person and reading over their shoulder. So, the reader is along for the action, as though they're walking in the person's shoes.

For example, near past tense would look like this:

Bob grabbed his keys and started to walk to the store. He was angry about Sue refusing to go to the prom with him, but why should he be surprised? Everyone else had said no too. But it was tomorrow night and if he showed up alone, everyone would laugh. He felt his palms start to sweat and the keys nearly dropped to the ground. Why did Karen have to move away right now? His eyes flicked up and he saw the walk light go on, but it wasn't until he was halfway across the street when he heard the screech of tires and the grill of the car . . . too close and coming too fast.

Present tense of the same scene would look like:

Bob grabs his keys and walks out the door to the store. He's angry about Sue refusing to go to the prom with him, but why should he be surprised? Everyone else had said no too. Tomorrow night was going to come coon and if he shows up alone, everyone will laugh. He nearly drops  his keys from the sudden sweat. Why did Karen have to move away right now? His eyes flick up as the walk light turns green. A screech of tires makes him turn his head. The grill of a car is right there! It's too close and coming too fast!

True past tense would look a lot like near-past, except you probably wouldn't include the emotions

Does that help a little? :)


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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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