Writing in First Person

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I have a bit more to post on writing style. Here we have two options about our friend, Shelley. Remember, she walked into the quilting shop and was surprised at the selection of fabrics?

Now Shelley returns, with a closer view for us of her personality and what she wants to find in the shop.

First person past tense – earlier today or even yesterday or last week

I pushed the door open. I walked into the store and looked around. It was amazing, I thought, how many different fabrics the little shop carried.
Why, there were likely a hundred or more. How would I ever choose just a few?
The quilt I planned to make was going to be a special one and I wanted to find
just the right colors. I walked up to the saleslady and smiled at her.

First person present tense – in the here and now

I push the door open. I walk into the store and look around. It is amazing, I think, how many different fabrics the little shop carries. Why, there are likely a hundred or more. How will I ever choose just a few? The quilt I plan
to make is a special one and I want to find just the right colors. I walk up to the saleslady and smile at her.

It can be easy to slip up and start to write out of the past or out of the present tense. Practice and careful editing can help to avoid the pitfalls for us.

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Past Tense/Present Tense

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I have just published a collection of short stories on Amazon. The book will be available in print and as an E-book. I will post the URL when it is posted on Amazon.

Past Tense and Present Tense

I belong to a number of sites where writers post their works and ask for feedback. I have often noticed when a new author tells a story, there is a flip back and forth from past to present tense. I have found myself doing this occasionally and have to watch when I edit to be aware of doing this very thing.

Past Tense – An Example

Shelley pushed the door open. She walked into the store and looked around. It was amazing, she thought, how many different fabrics the little shop carried. Why, there were likely a hundred or more. How would she ever choose just a few? The quilt she planned to make was going to be a special one and she wanted to find just the right colors. She walked up to the saleslady and smiled at her.

Present Tense – An Example

Shelley pushes the door open. She walks into the store and looks around. It is amazing, she thinks, how many different fabrics the little shop carries. Why, there are likely a hundred or more. How will she ever choose just a few? The quilt she plans to make is going to be a special one and she wants to find just the right colors. She walks up to the saleslady and smiles at her.

I hope this helps in your writing. The present tense lends a feeling of immediacy to the story, while the past tense is a bit more laid back.

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