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Priscilla86
Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2016 10:19:26 PM

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Location: Lavender, Singapore
Are there good books / online articles you'd recommend to beginners who want to write a fiction (or to write in general)?

I want to learn about the different types of writing especially which tense to use.

I've always thought when you're writing a fiction, you use past tense because you're sort of recounting a story that has happened in the past, especially when the story is told from a third person perspective. But I've come across writings in third-person narrative where the paragraphs can be in past tense one time, and present tense the next. When the story is in first-person narrative, I can understand the mixing of present and past tenses but in third-person narrative, things start to get muddled for me.

For your info, there are no such things as past, present, future, pluperfect tenses or what-have-you in my native language so I'm having quite a hard time with those when writing a fiction.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2016 10:43:35 PM

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Hi Priscilla!

Wow! I can understand the difficulty if your native language does not have these tenses.

The use of the present tense to tell a story about the past is fairly common - even in the third person.

Some writers do move from past tense to 'present-in-the-past' and back again.
I think you will find that the more 'intense' and exciting or 'suspenseful' parts are written in the present tense. This 'pulls in' the reader, makes the narrative more immediate and more 'real'.

I have read a couple of short stories (not full novels) which were written completely in the present tense - though, as far as I remember, they were written in the first person only.
They seemed a little strange to me, though I suppose they must have been considered good enough to be published in an anthology.

************
I'm not a writer, and never have been, so I have no authority at all on this subject.

However, having read quite a few of your 'posts', I feel that your use of tenses is already good. It may be good to study a few 'writing classes' or something, but it is also a good idea to WRITE. "Publish and be damned!" as one famous person said.
Priscilla86
Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2016 11:50:11 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 5/28/2014
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Location: Lavender, Singapore
Drag0nspeaker wrote:
Hi Priscilla!

I think you will find that the more 'intense' and exciting or 'suspenseful' parts are written in the present tense. This 'pulls in' the reader, makes the narrative more immediate and more 'real


I've read about this elsewhere. In the beginning, I had to really force myself to understand how past and present tenses could impact a story but I think slowly I'm getting it. Present tense can pull in the reader to the story, make them feel as if they are witnessing / experiencing the event as it happens.

Drag0nspeaker wrote:


However, having read quite a few of your 'posts', I feel that your use of tenses is already good.


Thank you, Drag0nspeaker
. That means a lot!

Drag0nspeaker wrote:
[b]It may be good to study a few 'writing classes' or something, but it is also a good idea to WRITE. "Publish and be damned!" as one famous person said.


I'm working up the courage, believe me! =D
pjharvey
Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2016 3:19:00 AM
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Just out of curiosity, Priscilla86: are there really no verb tenses and modes in you native language? Then, how do you identify when the action takes place? By the addition of adverbs maybe?
Could you make a few examples?
Because I really cannot imagine how you can do without tenses...
Priscilla86
Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2016 4:26:25 AM

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Location: Lavender, Singapore
pjharvey wrote:
Just out of curiosity, Priscilla86: are there really no verb tenses and modes in you native language? Then, how do you identify when the action takes place? By the addition of adverbs maybe?
Could you make a few examples?
Because I really cannot imagine how you can do without tenses...


Good question, pj! I'm going to try my best to explain.

Our verbs don't change whether an action takes place in the past, present, or future. We simply have to insert time-qualifying words somewhere in our sentences (usually in the beginning). Also, we don't differentiate between singular and plural or male and female.

For example:

1. Present: She eat the cake.
2. Present continuous: She now eat cake.
2. Past: Yesterday she eat the cake / she already eat the cake / she just eat the cake.
3. Future*: Tomorrow she eat the cake.

The underlined words are the time-qualifying words.

* We do have some sort of future tense. We have a word that means 'will' that we can add to a sentence. Sentence #4 can also be written: Tomorrow she will eat the cake but it will sound formal.

In daily conversation, saying 'Tomorrow she eat the cake' will suffice as you have already qualified the time by saying tomorrow, so you don't really need to add will to the sentence as it is implied.
jacobusmaximus
Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2016 4:35:19 AM

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This is similar to Cantonese - I now come here, I tomorrow come here, I yesterday come here.
pjharvey
Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2016 4:35:20 AM
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Thank you, Priscilla.
This is quite interesting.
I understand you can easily do without verb tenses by replacing them with time-qualifying words!

As to differentiating between male and female, I don't think it is essential; actually I think it is just a convention of our Western world.

However, the absence of a differentiation between singular and plural strikes me as odd. But, again, maybe you compensate for it by adding numbers to nouns?
Priscilla86
Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2016 5:00:01 AM

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Location: Lavender, Singapore
jacobusmaximus wrote:
This is similar to Cantonese - I now come here, I tomorrow come here, I yesterday come here.


Correct. I've noticed similarities in how tenses are constructed between some Asian languages.

pjharvey wrote:
However, the absence of a differentiation between singular and plural strikes me as odd. But, again, maybe you compensate for it by adding numbers to nouns?


Perhaps I need to elaborate the statement a little bit. You are right, we do add numbers before the nouns. However, in the absence of a number, we repeat the noun twice with a dash in between to indicate that it is plural. It is our equivalent of adding -s on the end of a noun.

For example:

In English:
- She eats two slices of cake
- They serve so many cakes

In Indonesian:
- She eat two slice of cake
- They serve so many cake-cake

Here's a question from me: why do you need to differentiate between singular and plural in English? I mean, in the case of 'he, she, it' vs 'they, we'?

Take my first example:

She eats cake vs They eat cake.

Why do you need to differentiate the verb by adding -s if it's singular? Isn't saying 'she' or 'they' give you enough info whether it's one person or many?

Unlike in Italian where they often omit the pronouns and just use the verbs, I understand why they need to have a specific verb to correspond with a specific pronouns.
pjharvey
Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2016 5:23:56 AM
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Good question, Priscilla. Particularly considering that the differentiation is almost only there in the present tense. I think it is just a stylistic convention; no need for it, just a question of style. If you consider the complexity of the conjugation of the verb "to be" compared with the other verbs, you cannot find any reason at all for it. It's just that more complex things are often considered more fascinating.
Now what do native speakers think of this?
(I am Italian, and my native language is indeed much more complex than English)
Priscilla86
Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2016 5:27:19 AM

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pjharvey wrote:
I am Italian, and my native language is indeed much more complex than English


What a coincidence! I mentioned Italian language as an example and you are an Italian =D
Lotje1000
Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2016 5:41:45 AM

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Priscilla86 wrote:
Why do you need to differentiate the verb by adding -s if it's singular? Isn't saying 'she' or 'they' give you enough info whether it's one person or many?


If I remember correctly, it's a matter of language change over the centuries. Most Germanic languages used to have cases, much like Latin. As such, word order wasn't very important; the cases themselves showed quite clearly which word had which function in the sentence.

When the emphasis moved to the front of the word, the end of the word where the case suffix was became less clearly pronounced. People started to forget about cases and instead made their meaning clear by using a very rigid word order in a sentence. It became more difficult to distinguish between subjects and objects that way, but I assume it helped if they kept plurals clearly marked in the verb.

In the case of the pronouns you mentioned, it's quite clear that they're both subject as well as singular/plural. However, with nouns you can tell which are singular/plural but it's more difficult to tell which are the object or the subject in the sentence.

That, at least, is my interpretation.

It's worth noting that not all Germanic languages have progressed like this. If I remember correctly, Swedish doesn't conjugate its verbs to show plural or singular.
pjharvey
Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2016 6:14:16 AM
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Priscilla86 wrote:
pjharvey wrote:
I am Italian, and my native language is indeed much more complex than English


What a coincidence! I mentioned Italian language as an example and you are an Italian =D


Yes!, a nice coincidence :)
Annelise Carlsen
Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2016 6:20:11 AM

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Location: Lundby Stationsby, Zealand, Denmark
Lotje1000 wrote:
It's worth noting that not all Germanic languages have progressed like this. If I remember correctly, Swedish doesn't conjugate its verbs to show plural or singular.


As far as I remember, none of the Scandinavian languages do.
E.g. in Danish:
He/she eats cake = han/hun spiser kage
We/they eat cake = vi/de spiser kage

I.e. no difference between singular and plural
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2016 4:16:03 PM

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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Lotje1000 wrote:
If I remember correctly, it's a matter of language change over the centuries.


I think you are right.

The cases used to be a lot more varied (similar to the verb 'to be') for all verbs - but it's a long time ago now.

As far as I remember (I may be wrong) the early modern/late middle English was something like:

I eat
thou eateth
he/she/it eates
we eate
you eatest
they eat_________
I will
thou wilt
he/she/it willes
we wille
you willst
they will

(the 'e' in the middle of these words would be pronounced, so "eat, eat-əth, eat-əs, eta-ə, eat-əst, eat".

Over the years, they have all pretty much disappeared, except in a few dialect words and the verb 'be'. Only the 's' for the third person singular remains and I don't see any signs of it disappearing, even in the most informal city slang.
rogermue
Posted: Saturday, February 27, 2016 10:59:54 AM

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One question to Priscilla. Excellent, how Indonesian handles plural
and tenses. Even Esperanto is not so simple. And English seems to have a
complicated grammar when compared with Indonesian.

Is there anything in Indonesian that is difficult for Europeans?
Priscilla86
Posted: Tuesday, March 1, 2016 6:52:12 AM

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Location: Lavender, Singapore
rogermue wrote:


Is there anything in Indonesian that is difficult for Europeans?


Hi, rogermue! Hmmm...I would say Europeans will find there's a HUGE difference between proper Indonesian taught in classes and the Indonesian language actually spoken in daily conversation. And while the proper Indonesian language is formulaic much like many other languages, the daily spoken one is a convoluted mish-mash of a mess. There's no formula / logic on how to convert proper Indonesian to the spoken one, you just have to know, so I guess it is difficult in that sense.

The spoken Indonesian language is very casual and full of slangs, even at places where you'd expect the people would speak proper Indonesian such as government offices or universities. The pronunciations of certain words could also differ. You could be taught on how to properly pronounce a word but in reality, you'll sound extremely formal. Nobody does that.

For example:

1) Hati-hati, habis, haus --> The 'h' are not silent in proper pronunciation but in daily conversation, they are.
2) Tidak--> Indonesian word for 'no'. You'll sound formal if you use this in conversation. If you speak to anyone, I guarantee they will use 'nggak', instead.

Proper Indonesian is only used in writings. The only people who speak proper Indonesian are newscasters and it's only because they are reading the prompter. If they have to communicate with reporters on location or interview someone, they would revert to casual Indonesian.
NKM
Posted: Saturday, March 5, 2016 5:21:43 PM

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Probably no real, natural language is truly simple, but the kinds of complexity can be very different.

Some languages have very elaborate verb conjugations and/or noun declensions.
Some have grammatical gender — often unrelated to or even contrary to "natural" gender (masculine/feminine/neuter), and sometimes with no discernible rules.
Some never use a noun without a specific "classifier" — something like "head of cattle" or "school of fish", but always required.

Some use a number of tones to distinguish otherwise identical words from one another.
Some get by with only two or three distinctive vowel sounds; some have five, while others (like English or French) may use many more.
Some (like Hawaiian) have very few consonants; others use consonants (or clusters of consonants) which can be pronounced only by native speakers.
Some require different forms according to social or situational relationship between speakers. (Might that be true of Indonesian?)

══════════════════════════════════════════════

English has very simple verb conjugation (though with some irregularities) and only a few traces of noun/pronoun declension. To make up for that relative simplicity, we use a large number of idiomatic constructs, many of which must seem counter-intuitive or downright nonsensical to anyone but a native speaker.

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