When Starting to Write – Think about the Tenses
When Starting to Write – Think about the Tenses

When Starting to Write – Think about the Tenses

A few of the first things that you must decide when you are thinking about writing a book. It is important to Think about the Tenses. First – are you choosing present or past tense?  Second – are you picking first or third person? This is often described as Point of View or POV.

Each story has a narration and this is a great tool for many reasons. It helps provide the connection between the readers and the story. It helps move the story along and clarify things.

There are books that use a multiple POV approach. These can be trickers but are fun to write.

Writing Present or Past Tense

Once you’ve picked a tense – stick to it. This seems easier than it really is. Often you are writing over days, weeks, and months. Sometimes, you won’t even notice that you changed from one tense to another. This is especially seen with past tense – where a few sentences have present tense embedded within.

Future tense is an option but it is rarely used.

Present tense is – what is happening now

Past tense is – what was happening


He wrote   vs    He writes

He was writing  vs  He is writing

He had written  vs  He has written

Writing First or Third Person

When we write in Fiction or Non-Fiction – we are talking about ourselves or someone else. We share our opinions, our expertise, our insights or we tell the story that we want to write. In each of these cases – we use pronouns to help tell the story. Those pronouns help our readers to better understand what is happening and it reduces the potential confusion.

The first-person perspective allows the reader a better opportunity to get into the character’s head.

First-Person Point of View

When we use things like – We, Us, Our, and Ourselves – we are using first-person pronouns

When we use things like – I, Me, My, Mine, and Myself – we are using singular first-person pronouns


Some of the top Books that use the First-Person tense are:

1.)  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – First-person and also Present tense

2.)  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte- First-person and Past tense

3.)  Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz – First-person and Present Tense

Examples:  I can’t believe that Sally is cheating on me. What is she thinking?

Third-Person Point of View

The third-person perspective allows you to talk about many different things – not just the point-of-view of the main character.  There are plenty of stories that use third person. It is almost like a disembodied narrator is describing what the characters are doing, and what is happening around them. Italics may be used to help the reader get inside the head of some characters but this happens less frequently. You aren’t seeing directly through the character’s eyes.

Third-person pronouns include He, Him, His, Himself, She, Her, Hers, Herself, It, Its, Itself, They, Them, Their, Themselves.

Some of the top Books that use the Third-Person tense are:

1.)  Peter Pan by J.M Barrie

2.)  Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel

3.)  Harry Potter by J.K Rowling

Examples:  Jack hates his mom, he always loathes that she left him and his dad before he was twelve.

Third-person Limited – Is less open than Omniscient and allows the narrator to only know thoughts and feelings from a single character.

Third-person Omniscient – Is the most open and flexible POV for writers. This allows the narrator to be all-seeing and all-knowing


Second-Person Point of View

The second-person perspective belongs to the person or group of people who are being addressed or spoken to.  “You” is the perspective. In longer stories, this is harder to do.

Examples:  You are doing better than anyone thought. You will make everyone proud.