There are no rules. But lots of decisions.

7 thoughts on “There are no rules. But lots of decisions.”

  1. Another great post, Alison! It’s so reassuring to hear that someone else has tried first then third person, tried present then past tense….. searching for right voice I guess. LIke you, I think present tense is difficult to maintain unless we are H Mantel… dream on…. I was told years ago, that the past tense is used most of the time by novelists because it works, feels natural and grounded. But in the right place, the present can be very immediate and/or dream-like, and… yeah… intimate. I think Margaret Attwood uses it a lot, doesn’t she? Thing is how do you choose when to use it?! Maybe it has to be the story that dictates it i.e. that the character would go into a ‘present’ voice in that place in that time. I agree, a few decisions early on can make a big difference. Thanks for sharing x


  2. Thanks for this, Harriet
    Perhaps you’re right – present tense for particular people/situations. Certainly starts to feel awkward in narrative where you have to refer to the past too!


  3. Will it stay the course you ask? I think this is the big question. I’ve also had to change POV, and tense in a novel, and its no easy task. Luckily I was only several chapter into the draft.

    My current WIP is third person, present tense. it is set both in present day, and Victorian England. I agree with Harriet, perhaps it is the story that dictates which path we take.

    Whatever, first draft is a dirty business. Good post. Keep writing.


  4. I think every story will be different and sometimes a change of tense is appropriate. As a new writer though I’m still exploring what will work and what overly complicates a story, so posts like this are very interesting to me! Thanks for sharing Ali.


  5. Hi Maria – good to know I’m not the only one crossing swords with Victorians!
    Linn – new writer? Had you down as an old hand!
    Thanks for the comments, ladies


  6. It takes me a long time to decide on the number of points of view in a story, the person of pronouns and the tense, so I’ve thought about those issues for as much as three or four years before actually beginning to write. Usually after thinking THAT much, though, I find the decision works pretty well. I’m currently taking a few months break before starting my next novel, so I’m hoping to get those matters decided during that time!


    1. Hi – I’ve spent so much time thinking about my current novel and trying different approaches – it’s reassuring to know someone else does the same!
      Ali B


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