Minor Issues, Feeling Tense

I have nothing interesting to say today. You might just want to move along, ignore me.

Everyone gone? OK.

Know what’s weird? Going from writing in present-tense* to editing/rewriting another piece in past-tense. I’m usually very good about keeping my tenses straight; I have one short story that goes back and forth between present action and past memories, but even there I didn’t screw up. Today, though, it’s pretty obvious what’s been added to chapter one of the novel I’m editing because IT’S FREAKING ALL SLIPPING INTO PRESENT TENSE.


I’ll get over it, but I think this answers the question of whether I can write one and edit the other at the same time. That would be a no, unless my mind does some serious ninja-style training and masters these mental gymnastics. If my brain is anything like the rest of my body, this will be impossible. I fall upstairs. Regularly.

I’ve run into another issue this week, this time answering an interview question. It’s a simple enough question: “What is your WIP about?” This wouldn’t be so difficult if it was about what I’m editing, or about the vampire thing, but it’s for JuNoWriMo. Next month, I’m re-tackling Torn, the sequel to Bound.

How the effing eff do you answer that question for a sequel without summarizing what happened in the first book? These are complete stories in themselves, but everything that happens in the second book is directly related to the first one, and they’re not intended to be read out-of-order (horrors!).

It’s not impossible, just awkward and difficult. Just like me! 😀

Imma go look up back cover copy for a few sequels, see what they did.

Imma also stop saying “imma,” because that’s super annoying.

Third thing, kind of random: I just realized why I often don’t like pictures of people’s faces on book covers. This dude on my Kobo won’t stop staring at me, and I’m getting freaked out. I have to go switch to another book now so the “cover” that shows isn’t a freaking stalker.

*It just took me five tries to type the word “tense” properly. I HAVE ISSUES.


About Kate Sparkes

Kate Sparkes was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but now resides in Newfoundland, where she tries not to talk too much about the dragons she sees in the fog. She lives with five cats, two dogs, and just the right amount of humans. USA Today bestselling author of the Bound Trilogy (mature YA Fantasy), Into Elurien, and Vines and Vices. Writing dark, decadent, and deadly Urban Fantasy as Tanith Frost. www.katesparkes.com www.tanithfrost.com View all posts by Kate Sparkes

13 responses to “Minor Issues, Feeling Tense

  • Andrew Toynbee

    Imma wondering why you’d even use a word that’s longer than the one it replaces…
    Regarding tenses, my brain has a freak-out moment when I’m writing a flash-back. Every time I use ‘had’ I cringe. Even using ‘I’d’ gives me a Voldemort neck-twitch. As per advice, I use these a couple of times and then blend into ‘present (flashback) tense until the flashback is over. But it still feels weird.
    You had problems with ‘tense’? Last week I stared at the back of a guys tee-shirt for ten minutes because it had ‘t h e w h o’ across his shoulders.
    I couldn’t make any sense of it. Sad, very sad…

    • katemsparkes

      I guess “imma” is shorter than “I’m going to” in this context. Hey, at least I’ve never used the word “cray-cray” *shudder* *gag* *hairball*

      I do that in flashbacks, too! Except usually when I need it, I’m writing past-tense anyway, so I’m just switching between regular past and past perfect… or whatever you call it. I hate “had” when I have to use it that way, and only use it to indicate the change between story “present” and the flashback. Ugh. Yep, right there with you on that one!

  • L. Marie

    *Hands Kate a soothing cup of herbal tea.* I admire the fact that you’re tackling so much. I can’t handle the transition from present-tense narration (current WiP) to past-tense narration (another novel I have), so I usually stick with one or the other. But I understand your dilemma. When I wrote my first present-tense novel after only writing past-tense narration, I frequently did what Andrew mentioned in his comment. Grr. So kudos for doing both!!

    And I hear you about the covers. That’s why I like a good symbol or type treatment mostly.

    • katemsparkes

      People staring soulfully at the reader seems to be a huge thing on covers these days, especially in YA. It used to be that the only people you saw on covers were mid-action (spearing a dragon, finding a clue, swooning into Fabio’s arms), but now they’re all “I will break the crap out of this fourth wall and force you to read me BY SHEER FORCE OF MY FICTIONAL WILLPOWER.”

      That, or the lovely girl is looking past your shoulder, and making you want to turn around in case someone is behind you.

      • Arlene

        I was going to comment on your post but then I read this comment and you had me cracking up. It’s always fun to laugh when you’re reading. People kind of look at you funny, but this: ” “I will break the crap out of this fourth wall and force you to read me BY SHEER FORCE OF MY FICTIONAL WILLPOWER.”

        That, or the lovely girl is looking past your shoulder, and making you want to turn around in case someone is behind you.”

        was funny! 🙂

  • Michelle Proulx

    I had the worst of case of tense-itis a year or so back. I was writing a present-tense fanfiction whilst trying to edit my past-tense manuscript. It was madness. UTTER MADNESS!

  • Gloria Weber

    I always write in past tense, but I change from first person to third person depending the project. So, I’ve had the same problem as you, but in a different way. We just fall into a rhythm and the rhythm is gonna get you.

  • Christi

    I had the same tense issue with a short story in college — it seemed like every time I revised it, I screwed up the tense somewhere else in the story… Now I’ve decided to just stick with past tense for the time being.

  • Jae

    Go to Harry Potter. It will have the answer. That is all.

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