Can We Talk Past Tense and Stay Consistent in a Sentence?


I'm writing my book in the third person narrative.

Firstly, because I don't want people thinking I'm writing an autobiography. My book is a chick lit book. You know the ones? Girl meets boy, boy breaks girl's heart, girls gets sweet revenge on sad pathetic boy etc etc. And whilst I'm most definitely not writing an autobiography—I don't have blonde hair and my mum doesn't really like chintz—I am using a lot of my own experiences to help make it more realistic. They do say to 'write what you know' after all.

Secondly, I think writing in the third person gives me much more flexibility with characters other than the MC. If I was writing in first person then I'd only be able to see through my MCs eyes. Although I could swap characters as the chapters progress, like the classic romance novels: Mills and Boon, Harlequin... etc etc. I like this way of gently flicking between male and female protagonists. Now I'm writing about it here, I'm wondering if I should do this instead!!

Anyway, it's something that I can hopefully develop over time and learn to use different narratives as I get better at the whole writing malarky.

But can I stay consistent in a sentence? Nope!

Can we talk about past tense for a moment?

One of the things I found hard in writing in the third person was keeping to the correct tense. I'm using the past tense as it's the norm and, again, it's something I'm new to and still learning. However, yesterday I got in such a tizzy that I couldn't form a proper sentence! I kept going over and over it until it was such a muddle in my brain that I had to stop and do something else. This was the snippet of writing I got confused at:

Lexie loved those freckles, needless to say, Sarah hated them.

I know it doesn't look like it should have caused me so much trouble but I think I was just having one of those days! I kept changing loved to loves and back again, hated to hates and back again. Until errant time shifts meant they were both doing things at different times! Consistent verb tense is one of the most important factors, else the sentences just don't make sense!!

One of the reasons I think I was finding it hard was because I am also in the process of writing a script with my brother. This is being written in the present tense, as most scripts are, I think. This is the second script we've written together. The first is in the process of being financed, hopefully (crosses fingers and toes). I'll write more about that another day.

Still, onwards and upwards. I had a cup of tea and my brain re-engaged, and I think I will be okay as long as I remain consistent. Let's just hope I don't come across a sentence that requires cause and effect over time, because the addition of a new clause in a different tense may just make my brain explode!!

Haven't managed anymore book today as Ariana hasn't been to sleep yet and I normally write while she's sleeping. She has a tooth coming so sleep is the last thing on her mind! 

Maybe lack of sleep is the real issue here... nothing to do with my lack of grasp of the English language!

Until next time.


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