Episode #45 – Past or Present Tense

Logically, you’d think all memoir should be written in the past tense because the events happened in the past.

But one listener asks, “Do I have to write my memoir in the past tense?”

The short answer is no, you don’t, but both there are both advantages and disadvantages to using the present tense.

Watch this week’s vlog and see what you think.

With all the writing you do, remember, the only way to do this wrong is to not do it at all!

Remember, the only way to do this wrong is to not do it at all!

Happy writing, everyone.

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David Godin
10 months ago

Jethro Tull lyrics: from Skating Away (on the thin ice of a new day)

Well, do you ever get the feeling
That the story’s too damn real
And in the present tense?

David Godin
10 months ago

I tried. wrote a paragraph using past and present. Past feels more comfortable. Present has that in-the-moment feel, but to make it stay present I have to write the story chronologically.

Kit Dwyer
10 months ago

I love delving into the question you mention in this episode. I often feel a tense dilema when writing a memory that includes something being told as fact, instruction or rule. One might say, “you do xxx” (meaning someone in a situation, like a student, should, or is expected to, do xxx). It always sounds like the present tense, which seems in contrast to the past tense of the general story. For example: “When controlling the plane from the back seat, you can’t see straight ahead because the angle of the nose is tipped up. I needed to make turns… Read more »

David Godin
10 months ago
Reply to  Kit Dwyer

Thought I’d take a stab at your dilemma. “When controlling the plane from the back seat, you can’t see straight ahead because the angle of the nose is tipped up. I needed to make turns as I taxied, to get glimpses of what was ahead and make sure I wasn’t going to run into something. ” My attempt: When controlling the plane from the back seat, you can’t see straight ahead because the angle of the nose is tipped up, so it is necessary to make small turns, left and right, like a roller skater moving side to side, so I… Read more »

Kit Dwyer
10 months ago
Reply to  David Godin

Thank you, Dave. Your sentence flow if definitely better. It is helpful. I’ll keep thinking about similes for weaving or searching while blind.

David Godin
10 months ago
Reply to  David Godin

better example. Like a motorcyclist weaving around cones.
Trying to think of things that weave…

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