What Tense To Use In An Essay About Non Fiction

Analysis 29.09.2019

In historical studies that is, by definition, in the past.

The vast majority of verbs used in history papers are past-tense e. When the topic is literature, however, it's a different matter.

Definition and Examples of the Literary Present

The action which takes place in works of fiction exists in a timeless world. So, in describing characters or recapitulating the plots found in literature, it's best to use the present tense.

What tense to use in an essay about non fiction

Here's how to construct tenses properly for both types of paper. Literary Papers. When describing the action or characters in a work of literary fiction, use the present tense: "At the midpoint of The Odyssey, the hero Odysseus journeys to the realm of the dead.

What tense to use in an essay about non fiction

The present tense highlights the vividness with which they re-occur whenever they pass through our minds and, because they're works of fiction, they can and do relive with every re-reading. This isn't true of the authors themselves, however. Discussing Homer, not his epics, calls for the past tense, because he's dead and can't come to life the way his works can.

Writing Guide: Present-Tense Verbs

So, when writing about the man, you should speak in the past tense "Homer composed his epics spontaneously in performance"in contrast to recapitulating the tales he told "The theme of Achilles' anger runs throughout The Iliad. Thus, literary papers usually entail a balance of past-tense and present-tense verbs.

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History Papers. Random House, An Experiential Description of Tense "By saying that the literary present is an appropriate tense for discussions of literary works because such works and their characters are alive and still speaking to each reader, grammarians have gone beyond the confines of literal chronology to what is at least a casual if not a rigorous attempt at a more experiential description of the tense.

What tense to use in an essay about non fiction

At the very least, a reference to an author or character may deserve the past tense because it is a larger discussion of the past, or because it is associated with the chronology of a person's or character's life. Kendall, Continue Reading.

The present tense is often associated with literary fiction, short stories, students in writing programs and workshops, and first novels. The past tense is used in most genre novels. There might well be an adjustment period for readers of present-tense stories. Readers may also end up paying closer attention since the format is one unfamiliar to them. They may develop a deeper involvement in the story. Immediacy Some writers and readers believe that use of the present tense makes story action and events more immediate. On the other hand, proponents of the past tense may find that verbs used in the past tense make story events seem more immediate. Yes, readers can get over this incongruity, but reader perception is something to consider when you choose your narrative tense. While the present tense is not common in fiction, some writing uses present tense as a matter of course— Scripts and plays A synopsis Essays that use the literary present tense When writing about the events of a story: Alex then demands a declaration from Stella, but she refuses to humor him. Try present tense if you want readers to notice the narrative tense or you want to see if you can make story events even more immediate. Marybeth Holleman says this technique is often more reliable and specific than her actual notes, and she encourages students to begin the writing process through present tense exercises. Tension in a story builds naturally in the present tense. What are the drawbacks of writing memoir in the present tense? In the time it takes for a writer to sit down and write about an experience, that person has changed a great deal. After all, that's what the present tense is, by definition, "right here right now. The writing has the reader's full and undivided attention at all times, because I'm the reader and I'm totally involved—I guarantee it! Nor do you need to encourage me to see the past vividly. I do that naturally, because it's my job and I love it. So, for your writing assignments in a history course, please don't use the present tense, when describing the past. Use the past tense, instead. The Past Tense. Furthermore, to the same extent that the present tense is unnecessary in this particular context, the past tense is helpful. By stating the facts of history rather coolly in the past tense you appear calm and collected, which, in turn, makes your judgment seem more sober and reasoned. You don't look excited or excitable, and that's a good thing for a historian who's trying to convince others to see the past a certain way. Arguments in this arena work better when they appear to come from cool heads. Let's look at how this works. Say you're describing Charlemagne's troubles with his Saxon neighbors, and you compose your words in the following way, using the present tense: As a result, almost every year of his reign Charlemagne is forced to go and vanquish the Saxons yet again and has to re-Christianize them on the spot. It's very vivid, isn't it, quite intense even? Gray, The Writer's Harbrace Handbook. Cengage Learning, A Communion of Strangers "When quoting great writers we tend to use the present tense, even if they died centuries ago: 'Milton reminds us. Writers we revere feel like colleagues and confidants as if they were speaking to us directly.

That is, will the writer use past or present tense in terms of verbs and the action of the story? The writer must decide what is the when of story.

Past Tense or Present Tense | The Editor's Blog

Although some readers and writers might have no true preference, most are firmly in one camp or the other. Either they insist using the simple past is the only way to tell a story or they say present tense has much to offer and is as equally valid as past tense.

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Discussing Homer, not his epics, calls for the past tense, because he's dead and can't come to life the way his works can. Other readers and writers want to relive the tension and uncertainty of an experience in real time, preferring present tense narratives. When I say most stories, I mean the great majority of stories. Present-Tense Verbs. From what I can tell from a quick survey of Internet articles, readers notice when stories are told using the present tense.

And limitations. And that you face the expectations of readers, readers who include agents and acquisitions editors.

Present-Tense Verbs. The tense of the verb in a sentence reflects the about at which the action is set. In historical studies that is, by definition, in the past. The vast majority of verbs used in history papers are past-tense e. When non topic is literature, tense, it's a what matter. The action which takes place in works mla format academic essay fiction exists in a timeless use. So, in describing characters or recapitulating the plots found in literature, it's essay to use the fiction tense.

Do narrator and viewpoint characters see actions and events as happening in the past or do they act as if the events are happening right now? Do they say— Marlboro raced through the forest. I fear the man who is my father; his voice alone demands respect. The setup for both is simple; the effects are vastly different.

Present-Tense Verbs. The tense of the verb in a sentence reflects the time at which the action is set. In historical studies that is, by definition, in the past. The vast majority of verbs used in history papers are past-tense e. When the topic is literature, however, it's a different matter. The action which takes place in works of fiction exists in a timeless world. So, in describing characters or recapitulating the plots found in literature, it's best to use the present tense. Here's how to construct tenses properly for both types of paper. Literary Papers. When describing the action or characters in a work of literary fiction, use the present tense: "At the midpoint of The Odyssey, the hero Odysseus journeys to the realm of the dead. The present tense highlights the vividness with which they re-occur whenever they pass through our minds and, because they're works of fiction, they can and do relive with every re-reading. This isn't true of the authors themselves, however. Discussing Homer, not his epics, calls for the past tense, because he's dead and can't come to life the way his works can. So, when writing about the man, you should speak in the past tense "Homer composed his epics spontaneously in performance" , in contrast to recapitulating the tales he told "The theme of Achilles' anger runs throughout The Iliad. Thus, literary papers usually entail a balance of past-tense and present-tense verbs. History Papers. Conversely, past-tense verbs should dominate history papers because the vividness of the present tense pertains less to the discussion of history than it does to literature. While it's possible to describe the historical past in the present tense, such a posture belongs more naturally to casual conversation than formal writing. That is, when a speaker is trying to make his account of something which happened in the past seem more real to a listener, he may use the present tense, saying, for instance, "So, yesterday I'm standing in line at this store and some man comes in and robs it! The use of past tenses, on the other hand, makes it seem as if the speaker is more aloof and remote from what happened: "Yesterday I stood in line at a store and a man came in and robbed it. Thus, to avoid the sense that they are neutral and unconcerned, speakers often use the present tense when relating a past action, since it lends the story a sense of being right there right then. After all, that's what the present tense is, by definition, "right here right now. The writing has the reader's full and undivided attention at all times, because I'm the reader and I'm totally involved—I guarantee it! Nor do you need to encourage me to see the past vividly. I do that naturally, because it's my job and I love it. So, for your writing assignments in a history course, please don't use the present tense, when describing the past. Use the past tense, instead. The Past Tense. Furthermore, to the same extent that the present tense is unnecessary in this particular context, the past tense is helpful. Present-tense narration is also much more recent a practice. From what I can tell from a quick survey of Internet articles, readers notice when stories are told using the present tense. We are saying that its use is noticeable. Let me stress that neither choice is right or wrong on principle. You can use either present or past tense for telling your stories. The present tense is often associated with literary fiction, short stories, students in writing programs and workshops, and first novels. The past tense is used in most genre novels. There might well be an adjustment period for readers of present-tense stories. Readers may also end up paying closer attention since the format is one unfamiliar to them. They may develop a deeper involvement in the story. Immediacy Some writers and readers believe that use of the present tense makes story action and events more immediate. On the other hand, proponents of the past tense may find that verbs used in the past tense make story events seem more immediate. Yes, readers can get over this incongruity, but reader perception is something to consider when you choose your narrative tense. While the present tense is not common in fiction, some writing uses present tense as a matter of course— Scripts and plays A synopsis Essays that use the literary present tense When writing about the events of a story: Alex then demands a declaration from Stella, but she refuses to humor him. Try present tense if you want readers to notice the narrative tense or you want to see if you can make story events even more immediate. Keep in mind that readers might have to make adjustments. Weigh the benefits against the costs—are the benefits, whatever they are for your story, enough to compensate for that adjustment period during which readers will not be fully involved in either characters or plot events? Be prepared to change from present tense to past in order to see your manuscript accepted by a publisher. You might have to do it; would you be willing to make the change if it meant being published? Could you do it? Know that readers might not accept your choice.

How does present tense affect the way readers perceive experiences? Some readers come looking for answers, wanting to understand how the writer, a person who lived through a similar experience, dealt with it. Past tense works well for writers and readers with this particular goal. Other readers and writers want to relive the tension and uncertainty of an experience in real time, preferring present tense narratives.