About Me

My photo
A writer by predilection, an aunt by blessing and a friend by choice, Shelley has spent many years journaling before sitting down to draft her first novel. She has a B.A. in English discourse and is currently working on her third romantic-suspense, the title of which will be announced soon pending publication. Shelley is a member of the Romance Writers of America as well as her RWA state chapter of the Maryland Romance Writers.
"I love story-telling. It's a way to live an experience through the eyes of a character." - Shelley N. Greene

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for TENSE

          Looking at my letter list, I figured that this would probably be the “See Spot Run” entry, but that’s okay.  Twenty letters in and we’ve had a few tough ones, funny ones and brief ones.  Our alphabet is winding down fast.

            And verb tense determines in what time your narrator is speaking.  It basically determines if the action is currently happening, will happen in the future or has already occurred.

Simple Present:       She writes

Present Perfect:      She has written

Simple Past:             She wrote

Past Perfect:            She had written

Future:                      She will write

Future Perfect:        She will have written

            I think I got that right(?)  Honestly, verb conjugation intimidates the crap out of me.  All the perfects, participles, regular vs. irregular and subject-verb agreement makes me anxious.  With all those rules, there is too many ways to mess up.

   The best advice is to choose a tense and then play it by ear.  Children learn language by hearing and repeating; adults are the same way.

The only caution in writing is that you want to try to avoid passive language.  The verb “was” is an indicator of the passive “to be” when paired with a past participle.  An easier way to spot this—as a wise contest judge once taught me—is to search your word document for the term “was.”  If more than fifteen highlights pop up on the page, you’re using passive language.  It’s not officially wrong to write passive, it’s just that staying in the moment is the strongest way to hold your reader's attention.  You can write in the past tense and still be in the center of the action.

            Okay, this is the last toughy letter, I swear. 

If you come back tomorrow, we’re in for some fun—U is for the USUAL SUSPECTS.

            *heeheeheee*  Goodnight!


  1. Tomorrow's post sounds intriguing! I'll be back. :)

    1. Hi Dana! Thanks for dropping in, see you then! :0)

  2. If you think this scares you, you ought to see my Korean students attempt to tackle it. Verbs and the correct tense freak a lot of people out.

    1. Welcome Jeremy,

      Omgoodness, I admire those who are multilingual because there are days I can't even get English right. I've seen my mother conjugate verbs in Spanish, she's good at it. I definitely agree, it's scary. I think the only way through is practice and daily use. ;0)

      Thank you so much for checking out CN! Hope to see you around.


  3. Tenses are tough...great examples! I love to use past perfect for flashbacks (when I write in past tense). But you knew that already. :-)