Note: This post was originally scheduled for 4/6/2014. It didn’t post to MailChimp, so I’m posting it again now. I’ve revised the original post so it’s up to date.
After my original posting of “sigh… present-tense narrative is great. please write in present-tense narrative,” a couple of years ago, several writers emailed to ask why I titled that post the way I did, namely in lower case and repeating the main primary phrase. I thought my response was entertaining enough to warrant updating and posting here.
Actually, as is the case with many techniques I use, I stole that technique from television.
In a couple of episodes of Family Guy, the writers did a take-off of Star Wars.
Of course the take-off was pure satire. The writers took pains to point out major flaws in the Star Wars story. They also pointed out places where dialogue began with a decision, wandered pretty much aimlessly for awhile, then returned with a new decision that would better serve the story.
In the actual story, the dialogue was written and delivered with excitement and pleading and firm resolve, as it should be. In the Family Guy version it was DOA, as evidenced by the flat-lined, deadpan delivery.
In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker flies off to some star system to study under Yoda, the Jedi master of masters. After some playful interaction, at the end of which Yoda finally admits who he is, Luke tells Yoda he has come to learn the ways of the Force.
Yoda, in so many words, says no, he will not train Luke. But after much pleading and wailing and gnashing of teeth (about a half-hour of movie time, if I remember correctly), Yoda finally relents.
In the Family Guy version, it went much quicker than that.
1. Luke flies up and asks Yoda to train him.
2. Yoda says, “No, I will not train you in the ways of the Force.” Wait two beats. “Okay, I will train you in the ways of the force.”
And that’s what I had in mind when I wrote “present-tense narrative is great. please write in present-tense narrative.” I preceded it with <sigh> to flatten it out a little further.
Some probably will notice that my delivery is not the same structure as that in the Family Guy episode. In mimicking the original story, they began with “no” and progressed to “okay.”
But because most who read this blather already know I’m staunchly entrenched against the inane idiocy of writing narrative in present tense, I saw no reason to do the same. Though perhaps it would have been more effective.
So consider this a revision of the title if you need one:
present-tense narrative is evil. no, wait. present-tense narrative is great. please write in present-tense narrative.
Ah, it was also called to my attention that my posts are sometimes too long (and I assume not entertaining or educational enough) to warrant reading them all the way through.
Well, at this late stage in my life I can hardly notch-up the entertainment value of my drivel, so from here on out I’ll do my best to shorten it a bit. 🙂 Maybe I’ll post a little more often too. Maybe.
‘Til next time, happy writing…
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