In writing a monologue, I have to pretend to be a character from To Kill a Mockingbird and use I and we, but I would like to know which tense to use?Present of past tense? This is the first time...

In writing a monologue, I have to pretend to be a character from To Kill a Mockingbird and use I and we, but I would like to know which tense to use?

Present of past tense? This is the first time for me to write a monologue.

Expert Answers
lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The tense you use is totally up to your teacher, but if I were given a choice, I would use the present tense. Writing in present tense keeps the written material flowing with a sense that it is happening right now. Every time one reads a literary work, it is important to think of the story as occurring in the present. It keeps the literary work fresh and it makes the material much more meaningful or relevant.

Remember to write about literature in present tense because:

...you are currently reading or thinking about it. Every time you open a book it seems as though the events are currently happening; every time you read an essay it is as though you are currently speaking to the writer.

Of course, if one is writing about an historical event, one must write in past tense. Most importanly, whatever tense one begins writing in is the tense that one must use throughout the written material. If the writer switches back and forth form present to past tense, it can be confusing for the reader.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The previous post makes some good points. Be sure NOT to combine present and past tense in your monologue--it would be confusing to the listener. Although a present tense reading would seem fresh, I would recommend a past tense usage since To Kill a Mockingbird is a past tense reminiscence told from well in the future by a mature, adult Scout. You may want to use the same approach--write your monologue from the viewpoint of a 30- or 40-year-old. Scout's narration adds another twist: She sometimes tells her story (though always from a past view) from a child's perspective without the benefit of experience or hindsight; and sometimes from the wiser, adult voice.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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