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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Wednesday Whittleings — Tension with Tenses!

Wednesdays are my day to randomly babble. Sometimes about children's books, others about writing, and whatever else strikes my mind. Random thoughts...random whittleings.

First, I need to thank the wonderful people up in the Gallatin, Missouri area and Daviess Public Library. I was up there last week to present Music Boxes and ramble on a bit about writing...and boy, can I ramble! Luckily, they were very kind and patient, and simply a wonderful bunch. So, here's my special thanks to you!!!


In two weeks, school starts again.     (Oops. I'm not suppose to mention the 's' word in our household)

My co-author (with whom I'm writing a series) has been happily reminding me that I'll have more writing time and can pick up the pace soon. Which he's right...although I grudgingly admit that. Especially since we've run into a little disagreement. Well, more of a friendly contemplation?

(We never argue. Not really. I promise.)

We've declared a Tension with Tenses! And it's as fun...frustrating?...as it sounds.

A story can be told in so many ways. First person? Third person? Or maybe even second? Or perhaps, the omnipotent narrator? And what about past, present or future?  See? It can be a real struggle.

For fun, we took a sentence or two out of our WIP and shoved them into every tense we could think of. The results had us laughing...but then, we laugh a lot. Here are some examples:

Second person, present tense: 
A chill runs down your back, despite the warmth of the day heating through the door. If your talents are discovered, you'll be executed on the spot.

This one hit the ultimate 'no' buzzer. Why? Well, we have four main characters. None of them are 'you'.  (But it was fun to try!)

First person, past tense:
A chill ran down my back, despite the warmth of the day heating through the door. If my talents were discovered, I’d be executed on the spot.

This one is not bad, but we have four main characters...each receiving their own chapters. We decided this up-close-and-personal approach would get a bit out of hand with so many heads.

Third person, future tense:
A chill will run across Myra’s back, despite the warmth of the day heating through the door. If her talents are discovered, she’ll be executed on the spot.

And this one? We added a few more sentences for fun and...Holy Crow! All of the 'will' s, 'need to' s and other future tense constructions make for quite the stumbling read.

It didn't take long to whittle the list down:
Second person in any tense?  Nope. Just plain awkward. And confusing. Definitely confusing.

Future tense? Not going to happen.

First person? Maybe. If we didn't have four main characters. Even if we decided to go for this one, our 3rd/4th characters would make it difficult. These two are, in many ways, actually one character. Kind of. Not really? Somewhat.  Let's just say that they have a unique plot, which is proving tricky even when the distinction between them is in clear-cut third. Putting both into first person would add a new level of insanity. Or possibly genius? I think it's better if we don't go there.

Omnipotent narrator? Uhh...I wouldn't even know where that all-knowing being would come from. A squirrel?

That leaves us with third person in either past or present tense. While our example sentences work fine in both...and wouldn't cause any problems...I'm a past tense fan. My co-author, however, thinks he might prefer present tense.

See, it's...

Tension with Tenses!!!

So, I did what any good writer would do.


There can't be many books out there, which are written in present tense and qualify as being successful. There's no way I would enjoy reading a third person, present tense novel. Right?

Let's just say I did a crash dive on that concept.


Did you know that the following books are written in present tense? (I'm choosing young adult and fantasy/scifi/dystopian examples, since our own book heads in that direction)

The Hunger Game series
Red Queen series
An Ember in the Ashes series
Matched series
and the list goes on...and on...and on...

Yep. My argument that past tense is king/queen was dissolved. Worse yet, I obviously don't mind reading present tense either. Since I was proven dead wrong, I'm now open to either possibility. But now, so is my co-author.

Of course, he is.

Present or past?

Past or present?

Whoever thought that tenses could be so tense!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

IWSG - Speaking Novels, Men in Tights and Voice Actresses

It's IWSG time!

Every first Wednesday of the month, this group of writers come together to offer support, advice, encouragement or simply to let out frustrations and woes. Writing is a tough journey, and we don't have to go it alone.

Thanks goes to the brain behind this group, Alex J. Cavanaugh! If you want to join in or find out more (because there is so much more to this group) then head on over here.

Special thanks goes to this month's co-hosts:  Erika Beebe, Natalie Aguirre, Jennifer Lane, MJ Fifield, Lisa Buie-Collard, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

I completely missed last month's IWSG, which speaks novels about my entire Summer. Now, if only these novels also happened to reflect the amount of writing I'm getting done.

Summer is so distracting! Luckily, my current project is co-authored, and that's been forcing me to keep up a half-decent writing pace. We've just started the third round of edits and will be searching for beta readers around September/October. Or so I hope.

Before I head off into this month's question, I do have a super-duper, extremely exciting announcement to make.



I was so excited when my publisher decided to do this. She was sneaky too and kept it as a surprise until after the auditions had already started.

It's so strange to listen to others read my book, but I enjoyed listening to the voice auditions...I'm awed by people who can read so well!  I'm even more awed by the woman, who was chosen and accepted the offer.

I could listen to her for hours, and the way she expresses the characters is amazing! To say I'm excited is (obviously) an understatement, and I can't wait until the world has the chance to hear it.

And now, on to this month's question:

What personal traits have you written into your character(s)?

Hmmm...I think my characters all have a little bit of me in them, but I've never purposefully or knowingly given them any of my traits. I have used quirks from other people I've seen or met or know, though.

For example, Mr. Lagunov from Music Boxes is a burly bear in tights. My daughter had a ballet teacher like that once. This gentleman wasn't Mr. Lagunov; he wasn't Russian nor did he complain about posture and have a ton of hair (actually, he was heavily balding). But he was a larger gentleman and in his upper years. A jolly man, who loved the kids and whose presence simply warmed the heart.

And when he put on his ballet outfit...

Well, let's just say that when I wrote Music Boxes, he had to be included.

What about you? Do you feed some of your traits into your characters? Or how do you handle them?