Monday, July 26, 2010

Getting Tense

By Pat Cunningham

Since we were having so much fun discussing voice and tense in the comments last week, and since I’m blank for a topic, let’s run an opinion poll. Here are four versions of the same paragraph. Which one best serves the story? Which would you keep reading, and which grate on your sensibilities like a buzzard’s talons on a bone? For brownie points, mix and match your own tenses and voices and show me what you got. (To my knowledge, no romance has ever been written in second person present tense, a la Jay McInerney’s “Bright Lights, Big City.” That voice just doesn’t lend itself to romance. Horror, maybe …)

The wolf glared at her out of glowing, sinister eyes. Claire’s breath caught in her throat. It couldn’t be possible, but she recognized those eyes, that expression. “Jordan?” she whispered. “Is that you?”

I froze where I stood. The wolf glared at me out of sinister-looking eyes. They almost seemed to glow. My own breath choked me. It couldn’t be possible! I knew those eyes, that all-too-familiar expression. “Jordan?” I whispered, my voice almost nonexistent. “Is that you?”

The wolf glares at me out of its glowing, almost sinister eyes. I feel my breath catch in my throat. It’s not possible. I recognize those eyes at once, and the expression in them. “Jordan?” My voice leaves my throat in a whisper. “Is that you?”

The wolf glares at you out of glowing, sinister eyes. You feel your breath catch in your throat. You know it’s not possible, but you also know those eyes and that expression. “Jordan?” you whisper. “Is that you?” (Yeah, knew that one would suck.)


Savanna Kougar said...

Pat... hmmmm... actually, I like them all. However, to me, the 2 'first persons' edge out the competition.

Oh no! That probably means I'll have to get serious and try a 'first person' for publishing. Or, you should.


You kiss me. It's hard and your kiss sizzles away any resistance. Your lips demand more. God, you know it's happening, your body is sinking, then melting against his he-man frame. Still, you're not done with me. No. Your Clark Gable kiss weakens the flesh and every bone until you can pour yourself out like warmed honey.

Okay, that probably isn't quite right. But, hey, I gave it the ole college try.

Pat, I'm stealing your buzzard line for my 'first person' flash scene [still under construction] tomorrow, since it takes place in semi-desert country.

Serena Shay said...

Nice job, Pat! I like the first person's the best. :)

Let's see, my try at FIRST PERSON, PRESENT TENSE

I scanned the sea of faces and wondered, what could you tell about a person from the outside any way? Some were white, some black, hell that dude there looked green—leave the bar a little sooner next time dude!

No, you can’t really know someone from what they look like on the outside. I mean look at me. I’m quite tall–if you carry a lollipop and are from them merry old Land of Oz. I’m of average weight, average hair color, average features—I guess you could say that I’m less than extraordinary. On the outside that is, but on the inside well that’s a different story. I could tell you something about me that would curl your toes and turn your hair white.

What, you doubt me? Well that was your first mistake…

Savanna Kougar said...

Serena, luv it!

Pat C. said...

Looks like first person wins the prize. Too bad most romances are written in third. However, first has more immediacy. I finally broke down and read Twilight and I don't think it would have worked in third. Conversely, Harry Potter would come off like a whiner in first person. It's all about what suits the story and the mood you want to convey.

My American Title entry was first person and I thought it worked out great. I only abandoned it because the ms. had other problems (primarily, the main squeeze had no real personality). Maybe I'll haul it out and take another whack at it.

Love your paragraphs. Sav, yours is smokin' hawt and Serena, yours sets a helluva mood and mystery. Well done!

Sav, glad I could inspire you with my buzzards. Ever see one of those suckers up close? They're huge!

Savanna Kougar said...

Hmmmm... Pat, surely, you could perform a personality spice up... the right inspiration is out there... or, the truth is out there, as Mulder used to say...

Hey, then we could promo our books together as ATIV finalists... lol...

I have seen a buzzard up close and personal at a zoo and I saw those critters when I drove through Texas... not as close, but not that far away, either. They are impressive in their own uniqe utilitarian way.