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Writing Short Stories/Simple tenses question and writing twist

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Question
Hi Brian.

I love to write short stories for hobby, but my native language is not English. I recently become involved in Reddit under sub ShortScaryStories, but it looks like my submission is not well received. People say there are many problems, some of it are about grammar and tenses. Now I just want to ask, if I want to tell a story based on first person view and third person view, should I write it all in past tense? Or in present tense? When should I choose to write in past tense or present tense, or even present continuous tense? I get confused all over that. I know that when I write to you like this, it would definitely a present tense. But how if I want to tell a story, probably from a number of different time perspective, for example: Yesterday my brother got into a fight. Today he's lying to dad and mom about that. Is this correct? I'm so confused. If you have a short and clear rule of thumb about this, it would even easier for me to remember.

And the second question is, as I write short stories that primarily depends on a strong twist, do you have any suggestion on how to write horror twists? I think the reader felt my twists are cliche, and while a few of it is well received, I rarely can repeat it again. Please advise.

Martin.

Answer
Most fiction is written in past tense, especially first person. You should try to be consistent with your point of view. Don't switch between first and third. You can change your point of view character in third, but keep it as third.

If you want to see an example of a good use of present tense, read George Dawes Green's "The Juror". It's difficult, though, to pull off present tense, so I suggest sticking with past tense.

As for a twist ending, read a lot of horror and see what's used, then come up with something different. Avoid things like, "it was all a dream". Give hints as you go as to what the ending might be. Other than that, I can't really offer any tips.

I have a couple horror stories with twists published on FictionPress.com. You can see how they are done. I'm not saying they are great, but they are what I know how to do.

Writing Short Stories

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Brian Lawrence

Expertise

How to write short stories. How to be published. Writing as a craft. What is a story.

Experience

Published over 22 short stories and 2 novels. Previous acquisition editor of Mysterical-E and previous fiction editor of Futures Magazine

Organizations
St. Louis Writers Guild, Mystery Writers of America

Publications
Futures Magazine, Blue Murder, Somliloquy, AlienQ, AIM, Love Kills anthology, Felonious Felines anthology

Education/Credentials
Master's Degree in Computer Science. Bachelors Degree in Chemistry & Psychology

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