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Jan's Master Class--TENSE

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

Moderators: mikeedwards, glorybee

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swfdoc1
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Postby swfdoc1 » Tue Mar 31, 2009 1:54 pm

How would you write this correctly?

Jack was hoping there was not a bear the woods when he saw one coming towards him?

That doesn't sound right. :?


How about:
Dear God, don't let there be a bear. Don't let there be a bear. Don't let there be a bear. Don't let there be a bear.

"BEAR!!!"

Serious answer may follow if we don't hear from Verna.
Steve
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Postby GShuler » Tue Mar 31, 2009 2:03 pm

Verna wrote:As for reading, that's one of my greatest pleasures. Having read so much, sometimes I'm concerned about something I've written with the idea--Is this original or have I read it somewhere? I never want to plagarize.


Thank you, Verna. Now I feel better about my writing. If I haven't read it, I can't plagarize it... right? Whew!!!! That took a load off!
I had something really memorable to write here but I forgot what it was.
Gerald Shuler

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Postby GShuler » Tue Mar 31, 2009 2:07 pm

swfdoc1 wrote:
How would you write this correctly?

Jack was hoping there was not a bear the woods when he saw one coming towards him?

That doesn't sound right. :?


"Jack was hoping there were no bears in the woods, but the one chasing him shattered all hopes."
I had something really memorable to write here but I forgot what it was.
Gerald Shuler

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Postby swfdoc1 » Tue Mar 31, 2009 2:18 pm

OOPS! I see we already did hear from Verna. For some reason, my email notification of posts is spotty today. I may still add a note as time permits, but I've got a brief to the Alabama Supreme Court stalled on my desk right now and we're trying to file it today.
Steve
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________
"When the Round Table is broken every man must follow Galahad or Mordred; middle
things are gone." C.S. Lewis
“The chief purpose of life … is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks. To do as we say in the Gloria in Excelsis ... We praise you, we call you holy, we worship you, we proclaim your glory, we thank you for the greatness of your splendor.” J.R.R. Tolkien

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Verna
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Postby Verna » Tue Mar 31, 2009 2:55 pm

Steve and Gerald, you surely do keep this thread interesting!
If there's no one to hear it, does the bear howl in the woods?
Verna

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine...
Proverb 17:22

Facebook author page: Verna Cole Mitchell
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Postby Verna » Tue Mar 31, 2009 3:02 pm

Oops, I may be able to keep my tenses straight, but not so much with stories. If there's no one in the woods to hear it, does the bear's howl make a sound?
Verna

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine...
Proverb 17:22

Facebook author page: Verna Cole Mitchell
http://www.magnificomanuscripts.com/

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Postby GShuler » Tue Mar 31, 2009 3:28 pm

Verna wrote:Oops, I may be able to keep my tenses straight, but not so much with stories. If there's no one in the woods to hear it, does the bear's howl make a sound?


There IS someone to hear it... unless the bear is deaf, in which case he probably wouldn't howl because he wouldn't know how to howl.
I had something really memorable to write here but I forgot what it was.
Gerald Shuler

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Postby Tally » Tue Mar 31, 2009 5:42 pm

glorybee wrote:Gerald, I highly recommend that you read some good fiction! This class is about to go on a several-month vacation--your homework is to read a book or two before we come back!


Can you say more, Jan?

How long will the class be on hold and starting when?

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Postby Tally » Tue Mar 31, 2009 6:27 pm

:rolling

Steve and Gerald! Good one!

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Postby violin4jesus » Tue Mar 31, 2009 8:19 pm

glorybee wrote: I'm really surprised to read that you learned to writing in 3rd person present tense. That's such an unusual style of writing, and there are very few published novels written that way. I suspect that most publishers would say "re-write this puppy in past tense".

Fascinating!


Not so hard to understand when you realize that most of it was critical writing analysis. (Hardly any creative writing, truthfully....I still find it really hard to write about myself except in third person....)

"In 1984, Orwell uses the situation of the main character to point out the inherent flaws of allowing government to control every area of civilian life."

And so on and so forth....for the final exams I had to write several critical analysis pieces on sections of literature I had never read, and the poetry one was a verbal analysis with only 5 minutes to prepare.

When I got to college, I slept through most of my "Writing 101" class and passed with an easy A....it was cake compared to advanced level classes in high school!

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Postby glorybee » Wed Apr 01, 2009 6:30 am

Tally, there's one more class--next week's--possibly two, as I just remembered one more term I'd intended to cover. Then it'll start up again with a new focus in September. More details next week...stay tuned!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby dandelionflower » Wed Apr 01, 2009 8:42 am

Where to begin? There were so many great points made. Maybe numbering would help.

1. Re: grammar--I'm not an expert--that's for sure, but I learned a great deal of if when I went to the Defense Language Institute. Now when I teach ESL, I incorporate quite a bit of grammar into the lessons, even though I'm told that isn't the best approach. I don't agree and my students don't either. It's so much easier to teach and learn when we all know the vocabulary. We learn language intuitively as children, but when we become adults we have other tools available to help us learn. I consider the rules to be a tool.

That supports what you have said--either get it intuitively through a lifetime of reading great books, or learn by the numbers.

2. Re: Harlequins: When I was learning German, I was a voracious reader of the German version of the Harlequin Romance. I may not have a "high brow" vocabulary, but, boy, can I "dish" in German.

3. Re: person present tense. I recently read that this is best used when your mc is not an "over-the-top" character. What do you think?

This leads me to another question. When we read a story in first person, aren't we supposed to be looking for places where the mc is fooling himself? For example, in Melville's, "Bartleby, The Scrivener, the reader becomes aware that Bartleby is not self-aware, and what he is relating is truly flawed.

So when I write in first person, I inject points where a careful reader would see that the narrator's ideas are flawed. I did that in my Kingdom of God entry.

Reader's Choice

And my Africa entry.

Her Safari

In the first one the mc talks about "her restrictive world" and "forfeiting freedom," when in reality, her world offers all the choices and freedom.

In the Africa story, the mc says this is her brother's journey, but the title I gave it suggests otherwise.

I guess my point is that a first person narrative should be harder to trust, being more subjective. It's a great opportunity for the writer to inject subtle messages.

If the writer wants a more "reliable" voice, wouldn't third person, past (omniscient) be the best?

4. Re: the passive voice. Since I have been writing more in the first person, I've been using passive voice more also. It helps me keep the "I"s down. How bad is this practice?

5. There may be more roaming around in my head, but I'll stop there.
Lisa Mikitarian
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By perseverance the snail reached the ark.
-- Charles H. Spurgeon

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Postby PureJoy » Fri Apr 03, 2009 7:56 am

How timely this is for me. Fiction writing and tenses--no problem. My High School teachers impressed that into my brain long ago. (thanks again, ladies). I tend to bounce back and forth between 3rd person past and 1st person past.

What I'm struggling with now is a Bible study where I go back and forth between telling what the "characters" are doing and have done and my commentary. I'm trying to keep my tenses consistent--just doing it by ear.

I'd find an example but I think my time is up for now. There's a 2-year-old pulling my chair away from the computer.....
~Karen~

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. ~~ Psalm 37:4

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Postby CatLin » Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:59 pm

I read this lesson last week and have been noticing tenses in everthing I've read since. :D For my homework, I used an "uncomfortable" tense in my current challenge entry, and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d a little bit. I can't tell you about it yet, tho. :mrgreen:
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"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes." Psalm 18:24 (The Message)

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Postby glorybee » Thu Apr 16, 2009 7:29 pm

Can't wait to read it, Catrina! Be sure to come back here when the "all clear" is given, so that we can read your experiment.
Jan Ackerson

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