Creative Writing Tutorials
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The narrative tense or narrative time determines the grammatical tense of the story; whether in the past, present, or future.


Related Articles: Point of View, Voice

Which tense to choose?[]

Compared to novels, it's more common for short stories to be written in present tense.

Future tense should rarely be used, maybe being saved for just a few paragraphs here or there.

Conclusion[]

Ultimately, you should choose whatever comes naturally to you, and try to be consistent. Experiment, combining different tenses with different points of view and voices.

Examples[]

Past tense[]

The most common in literature and story-telling; the events of the plot occurred sometime before the current moment or the time at which the narrative was constructed or expressed to an audience.

Examples[]

  • John sat at the table.
  • I wondered where Catherine was.
  • They were going home.
  • They had found their way and were ready to celebrate.

Present tense[]

The events of the plot occur or are occurring now—at the current moment—in real-time.

Examples[]

  • teachers teach good values
  • I am gonna go home
  • I wonder where Catherine is.
  • They go home.
  • They find their way and are ready to celebrate.

Future tense[]

Extremely rare in literature; the events of the plot will occur soon or eventually; often, these upcoming events are described in a way that makes it seem like the narrators uncannily know (or believe they know) the future. Some future-tense stories have a prophetic feel. wring service

Examples[]

  • John will sit at the table.
  • I will wonder where Catherine is (will go?).
  • They will be going home.
  • They will find their way and will be ready to celebrate.
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