Originally Posted by Squall913
I'm having trouble finding an answer to a question, though I've looked in a few places.
I'm writing a story in the 1st person past tense. But in some cases I'm describing things that still apply at the present within the story's timeline. (The walls are/were green, etc.)
My question is this: Should I try to express that these things are still true--by using present tense in these specific cases--or will that be overly confusing if there are only a few such cases?
Sorry if this should go somewhere else, and thanks to anyone who can help me out.
If I've read you correctly: narrator is describing something that happened in their past, but is still true in their present (i.e. the moment at which they're telling the story).
In that case, either option is legit, and it's a matter of preference. Present tense might
be confusing if you're only invoking it rarely. OTOH, it can also make the reader feel more involved in the story. I'm not sure how best to articulate this, but I'll try:
A first-person past-tense story is two steps detached from the reader's world: one step to the narrator, and then another into the narrator's past. By shifting some of the story into the narrator's present
, you bring it a step closer to the reader.
An author that comes to mind: Frederick Forsyth writes spy/military thrillers, and one of the big selling points of his work is that it's well-researched and realistic (or at least the early stuff was, I haven't been much impressed with his more recent books). He generally uses past tense when talking about material that is clearly
But when talking about real-life organisations and their procedures, he often shifts into present tense, which gives the impression that he's telling real-world truths. (Sometimes he is, sometimes he isn't.) That in turn makes the rest of the story feel just a little bit more real - at least, that's how I interpret it.