FIRST PERSON, PRESENT, TENSE

No. The commas are in the right place. I’m here. Alone. Now. And this is a tense moment. While I’m staring down at the narrow, dirt trail and maneuvering a mine field of rocks, roots, stone outcroppings,

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AND an occasional hilltop inhabitant catching a few rays

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I’m thinking of rewriting a new project from a first person, present tense point-of-view. It’s a scary thought, one mirrored in my surroundings – a bumpy path fraught with danger, stumbling blocks, and unexpected surprises of both the literal and metaphorical nature. On the physical side, I’m being particularly careful where I put my feet to avoid tripping and doing a face plant like I did last year stepping over a low curb – for if I go down now,

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I’ll have more than a scraped nose and fat lip to show for my clumsiness. As for metaphorically, well, there are plenty of obstacles – like the fear of my ineptitude. Although, doing something especially challenging is the mother of adventure, right? Awww, I should probably pay better attention to that rustling in a clump of acacias, rather than –

WHOA!

I step on Lucy’s leash just in time to keep her from barreling down the hill in hot pursuit of two deer. It’s so much more effective than nursing rope burns after the fact. We look on. I’m mesmerized by their grace and beauty as they prance through the high grasses. Lucy is drooling and sliding her tongue across her lips. One deer stops. If she were a car her tires would have screeched. She turns toward us, her stare saying, “I dare you.”

2 deer

Then, as abruptly as they crossed our path, the two continue to bob on down the hill.

With the precision of a surgeon intent upon severing the correct vein in a varicose forest, I continue picking my way along the narrow trail, the middle wagon on our three man two-dog-one-woman commuter train home. The sun warms my back as Lucy leads the way, sashaying along as if she were Scarlett O’Hara flirting with a bevy of beaus. I snicker, picturing her tail peeking from beneath a frilly, satin petticoat.

Lucy tutu

Jazzie brings up the rear, unaware that it’s not the caboose’s job to huff, puff, and chug forward.

The old girl is a walking battery and watch advertisement. At almost sixteen, she’s outlasted every Energizer Bunny in history and has proven that she can “take a lickin’ but keep on ticking” long after any Timex has called it quits.

We’ve come to the end of the trail. I’m still not sure if I want to rewrite my manuscript in first person present tense, but looking at the view from here

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I’m certainly feeling better about it.
Maybe it’s worth a shot. You never know until you try – right?

About Donna Gwinnell Lambo-Weidner

I am an adventure seeking ponderer of the mysteries of the universe, writer of children's books (represented by Stephen Fraser of the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency), and lover of anything involving armor, archery, or swashbuckling.
This entry was posted in ADVENTURES, Essay, HUMOR, LUCY and JAZZIE, WRITING CHALLENGES and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to FIRST PERSON, PRESENT, TENSE

  1. vic says:

    Are you talking about the chicken? Just because you write it, it doesn’t mean you have to eliminate the original. It’s just a different point of view. Hey, some authors even combine the two. Some authors write chapters from many different points of view. How’s that for a challenge?
    And if it isn’t getting where you want it in one way, maybe it will get there another way. Just like on google maps, sometimes there are multiple ways to reach the same destination.

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  2. vic says:

    I love Lucy’s skirt!

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  3. redosue says:

    Nooooo! Don’t do it!!!! I have very strong opinions about the present tense unless it is, as you did with this post, truly the present. I have a particular pet peeve with memoirs that are written in the present tense. Whaaat?? In fact, I had started writing something on this subject yesterday which I’ll continue with for posting this weekend. It drives me batty! How can you write about the past in the present? Bah. Double bah. (Nice post, by the way. Such happy pooches!)

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  4. redosue says:

    And another thing… actually not, but on reflection, how appropriate to write about a dog walk in the present since that’s the only way dogs live, right? It’s all about the now.

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  5. Oh! I love your Energizer and Timex references! Why are those still so familiar to me? I hate to admit it, but they really are. Not sure what to make of your vision of a dog in a tutu……but am thinking the chances worth taking come with grand rewards………

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  6. First of all, I just rewatched GWTW and that petticoat is exactly like the one Rhett gave Mammie! I am a huge fan of first person present POV and my “Lullabies & Alibis” novel is written entirely that way. I love the sense of immediacy it gives. It’s like the author takes you in their pocket on their adventure. I really enjoyed your writing in this post. Plus you are a complete Gladdener!! 😉

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  7. Lyn says:

    Better you than me, Gunga Din 😀 You are so courageous dear Donna.

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  8. Diane Jay says:

    Jazzie, Jazzie, way to go girls!

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  9. Hi Donna, I love how your train of thought flows with the walk. And I think it takes a lot of courage to try something new on a manuscript, especially going from 3rd to first person and present tense. But I say, try it. You may very well go back, but it is helpful. I did it with a picture book text and it really helped me.

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