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     I used to see my future laid out ahead of me, as far as the eye can see, and still, somehow I knew it extended far beyond that.  It was a long, wide path, filled with possibilities.  But lately, visibility is pretty hazy and I’m having trouble seeing any farther than the end of the day; sometimes even seeing that far is a blessing.  The path I’m on was once so certain that I dashed ahead with little thought or concern, simply following the road, oblivious to anything other than reaching the prize that I knew awaited me at the end.  At times, this singular focus made it difficult for me to see and appreciate the gifts I was being given along the way or to take heed of the obstacles being placed up ahead.

     Now the path has narrowed and there are so many twists and turns and dark stretches of road that I tread cautiously.  There was a time when I was surrounded by so many people, traveling along the same path, but little by little, they branched off and now, quite often, I find my path deserted; devoid of any signs of life, of humanity, other than my own.  It can be difficult to convince myself to carry on, but somehow, I always manage to continue trudging forward.  Deep down inside, I know that eventually, the path will once again become smooth and easy, even if I can’t see it ahead of me.  It is how I handle this treacherous stretch that defines who I am and shows what I am made of.  I will not let myself fall prey to the creatures that lurk along the edges, waiting for me to falter, so they can pick me apart like vultures.  I refuse to give them the satisfaction.

     With my head held high, I put on a brave face and try not to let my fear or sadness show.  But if anyone bothered to look closely enough, they would see the tiniest quiver of my lip, feel my heart pounding in my chest and hear the unsteady rhythm of my breathing as I gasp for air to keep the tears from running down my face.  

     No longer thinking, I just put one foot in front of the other, letting the momentum of years of motion guide my limbs.  Well worn and weary, I feel older than my years.  The stitch in my hip, the ache in my knee and the heaviness in my heart; all reminders of the trials I have already survived.  Like battle scars, they are my badges of honor, yet they feel more like evidence of my past transgressions.  Sneaking off the path in search of momentary joy, has its consequences, but has provided valuable life lessons to hopefully keep me on the straight and narrow from here on out.

     The forecast calls for clear skies in my future.  Until then, I will just continue to use caution while navigating with limited visibility.

     I almost didn’t write a blog entry for today.  Instead, I almost wallowed in my emotions and let myself be controlled by them.  Then I had a small moment of clarity.  Rather than sinking into the despair, I chose to pull myself out and use those emotions; to create, to write, to purge the demons that were threatening to drag me down into darkness and put my heart on display.

     When writing a novel, an author has several choices to make that have nothing to do with plot, setting or characters, the meat and potatoes for any novel, that can either make or break their work.  The article Choosing a Tense and Point of View for Your Novel by Eileen Albrizio, explores all of these choices and various ways they can be combined.  Should the story be written in first person, second person or third person point of view?  Once that is established, the author then needs to decide whether to tell the story in past, present or future tense.

Point of View

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     First person point of view is when the story is narrated by the main character.  The reader would be able to know what the main character is thinking and feeling in addition to what they are doing, but they would not have this same connection to any of the other characters.   The story is also limited to the main character’s “line of sight”, which means the author cannot explore what is happening to another character that the narrator is not in direct contact with.  This view can be identified by the use of pronouns such as “I”, “we”, or “us”.  

     Second person point of view is when the narrator explains, directly to the main character, what is happening or has happened to them.  The reader would then become the main character, being guided on what to do or how to feel by the narrator. This view can be identified by the use of the pronoun “you”. 

     Third person point of view is when the story is told by an outsider looking in.  The narrator is able to see what is happening to each character, even if the characters are unaware of what is happening to one another.  The author is able to convey the thoughts, feelings and actions of all characters, not just those of the main character.  This view can be identified by the use of pronouns such as “he”, “she” or “they”.


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     Once it has been decided what point of view to use, an author must then decide what tense the story should be told in.  As Nicole Thomas says in her article Past vs. Present Tense When Writing, the tense chosen can set the mood of the novel.  Eileen Albrizio’s article, mentioned earlier, points out that sometimes the choice in point of view will steer an author towards the use of a particular tense. 

     The use of past tense means that the narrator is already aware of everything that has or is currently transpiring.  Future events can be hinted at or foreshadowed, because the narrator already knows the final result.  Through the use of past tense, a first person narrator could describe how other characters felt at a particular point because it may be revealed to them at a later point in time.  This is the most common tense used by writers.  Why?  According to Nicole Thomas’ article, this is the way our brains are programmed to write.  We tend to reflect on events that have already occurred.

     The use of present tense means that events are unfolding at the time the reader is reading about them.  The future is unknown to both the reader and the narrator and can only be revealed as time goes on, creating a sense of camaraderie towards the main character.  Nicole Thomas advises that present tense works best when used with the first person point of view.  Does this mean that it cannot be used with any other point of view?  Absolutely not.  Eileen Albrizio’s article explains how to use present tense with the various points of view.

     The use of future tense means that events have not yet occurred; everything is about to happen.  This is a great way to create suspense, but can heavy for the reader and is best used when writing short fiction.

Decision Time

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     Now that all of the options have been explained, it is time for the author to determine the combination to use.  Is there a formula for success?  Unfortunately, there is no specific combination of point of view and tense that will determine if a novel will succeed or fail.  What works for one author, may not work for another.  And even for the same author, what works for one novel, may not work for another.  The choice is dependent on things like the author’s comfort level,  skill or intention.  There is no right or wrong choice.  The key is to remain consistent in your choice to avoid confusing the reader.