I always knew it would be a tough ask to write a complete story/novel but I had no idea it would be this tough. How tough you ask? Well, you will have to try it out yourself to get the exact idea but I will try my best to give you a rough idea.
Imagine you’re trying to write down a story which involves three people. You would obviously like to give a decent background about all three of them or at least some context. This context would have to be in either the first person (thus, limiting you to only information which that character ought to know) or in the third person (thus, adding another voice in the existing melee). Assuming you decide to go with the third person. You’re writing about how the city was cold, the streets were empty, people were looking around for jobs. Then, you start describing the present scene. Let me write a small paragraph that illustrates what I just wrote.
It was a cold winters day in New Delhi. People were flitting around here and there looking for shelter from the extreme cold. No one wanted to stay out for too long and the poor folks who had no where else to go were huddling close to makeshift fires and temporary shelters. <More background stuff about Delhi and its random residents> However, since old times the rich and powerful have always found ways to enjoy amidst even the worst of circumstances. Not by adjusting to them ofcourse, but by changing/controlling them. AC’s for the summer heat, thermostats for the winter, cars for travel, Televisions for entertainment, the rich and powerful don’t have the same worries as the poor.
You see what I did there? I was talking about New Delhi, describing my stories backdrop and then, suddenly I moved on to make some generic statements (my personal opinions that aren’t in any way relevant to the plot and at best will only provide the user some food for thought). Since the generic statements aren’t in any way related to the background story, I had to use the present tense. Now what do I do if I have to go back to talking about the background? Should I start using the past tense again, without worrying about the change of tense? Assuming I do the above.
Thus, even in those days, the rich would have regular parties and get togethers. The husbands would drink and discuss business while their wives sat talking about others things. The kids would play with each other until it was time to go home again. It was at one of these get togethers, that Ram, Mohan and Sham first met each other.
Now for me, this is another tricky point. I am writing the story as a third person, so how do I go about describing the conversation these people had with each other? Should it be the first tense (not sure how this would come out) or should the entire conversation be reported in passive (definitely not a good idea, I think). So I ignore my doubting brain and write the further details like this:
Ram: Hi, My name is Ram and I live in Ashok Vihar.
Sham: Hi, I am Sham, a resident of Dwarka. I study in the 8th grade.
And so on. Now, I can’t remove the little doubt about whether my tenses are correct or not. It makes me question each step of the story I am writing (and make me wish that I had payed more attention in school). To tackle all this, I am going to read my favorite novels once again, with a special attention to the tenses they use. Will write more about these things as I get more clarity. Please let me know if you have any personal preferences on these things and/or anything else to share.