Character description - past or present tense?

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satisfactionatlast
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#1
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#1
Hey guys. So I'm really struggling here and I just wanted to confirm if I should describe characters using the past or present tense.

E.g.

Wendy was sixteen as well. She had long wavy black hair and a round face that she often covered with Bronzer because she hated her white complexion. She was quite curvy and very pretty. She was wearing a pink hoodie and navy blue leggings.


How do I go on about this? (Btw, the novel is told from a third person POV if that helps).

Thanks!
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Friffinghell
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#2
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#2
(Original post by satisfactionatlast)
Hey guys. So I'm really struggling here and I just wanted to confirm if I should describe characters using the past or present tense.

E.g.

Wendy was sixteen as well. She had long wavy black hair and a round face that she often covered with Bronzer because she hated her white complexion. She was quite curvy and very pretty. She was wearing a pink hoodie and navy blue leggings.


How do I go on about this? (Btw, the novel is told from a third person POV if that helps).

Thanks!
You can use either. It really depends on whether your POV is relating to things that have happened or things that are happening.

So past tense for giving backstory- present tense for current conversations/happenings.
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satisfactionatlast
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#3
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#3
(Original post by Friffinghell)
You can use either. It really depends on whether your POV is relating to things that have happened or things that are happening.

So past tense for giving backstory- present tense for current conversations/happenings.
hmm thank you. But it kinda feels weird writing it in present tense, don't you think?
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Friffinghell
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#4
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#4
(Original post by satisfactionatlast)
hmm thank you. But it kinda feels weird writing it in present tense, don't you think?
It depends on how you use it.

eg: Sally was the least popular girl in school. Everyone hated her since day 1 of freshman year.

"Do you want to cuddle?" She is pulling at me- toying with my hair. I hate it. I wish she would go away. Instead she is talking to me in a stupid little girl's voice. How did I get here?

So this switches from past to present- it just depends what you're trying to illustrate.
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satisfactionatlast
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#5
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#5
(Original post by Friffinghell)
It depends on how you use it.

eg: Sally was the least popular girl in school. Everyone hated her since day 1 of freshman year.

"Do you want to cuddle?" She is pulling at me- toying with my hair. I hate it. I wish she would go away. Instead she is talking to me in a stupid little girl's voice. How did I get here?

So this switches from past to present- it just depends what you're trying to illustrate.
ah okay. gotcha. thanks!
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Kallisto
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#6
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#6
(Original post by satisfactionatlast)
Hey guys. So I'm really struggling here and I just wanted to confirm if I should describe characters using the past or present tense.

E.g.

Wendy was sixteen as well. She had long wavy black hair and a round face that she often covered with Bronzer because she hated her white complexion. She was quite curvy and very pretty. She was wearing a pink hoodie and navy blue leggings.


How do I go on about this? (Btw, the novel is told from a third person POV if that helps).

Thanks!
Would say that this can be written in present tense too. And if it is a situation happens right now - so in a moment the narrator is telling about the story - it is better to prefer this tense.
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satisfactionatlast
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#7
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(Original post by Kallisto)
Would say that this can be written in present tense too. And if it is a situation happens right now - so in a moment the narrator is telling about the story - it is better to prefer this tense.
I'm just confused between physical description and the clothes they wear. The tenses should be consistent for both right? Also, I've read that the past tense is more popular and readers can relate much better to it than the present tense
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Kallisto
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#8
(Original post by satisfactionatlast)
I'm just confused between physical description and the clothes they wear. The tenses should be consistent for both right? Also, I've read that the past tense is more popular and readers can relate much better to it than the present tense
If it is the better tense in your view, do i t - a good writer is writing by feeling, not by a strict observance of the tenses. Sometimes I have the same dilemma like you when I am writing.
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Kyx
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#9
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#9
I prefer past tense


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