Different Tense in Novel Writing

Simple Past Tense

Simple past tense is used to narrate an action of the past. The verb in the past tense ends with an ‘-ed’ and hence, there are seven ways of marking the irregular verbs in the past tense. The most common being the change of the vowel as in ‘drink’ – ‘drank’.


Subject + Verb + Object


  • Brian worked in that office for almost eight years.
  • She passed away in 1999.
  • We went for the movie yesterday.
  • Two years ago, I studied at the Leeds University.

Past Continuous Tense

This from of tense indicates activities that have already happened in the past and have been completed before the time of mention. These sentences are formed with the help of an auxiliary verb and giving the main verb an ‘ing’ ending.


Subject + Was/Were + Verb in its -ing form + Object


  • She was washing the dishes, while he was cooking dinner.
  • was working at 1p.m yesterday afternoon.
  • We were playing football when it started to rain.
  • He was reading a thriller novel when I called him.
  • What were you doing when Tom arrived?
  • was walking down the street yesterday when the police car was patrolling the town.

Past Perfect Tense

This tense refers to a non-continuous action that was already completed in the past. Such sentences are formed by using the Simple Past form of the auxiliary verb ‘to have’, followed by the past participle form of the verb.


Subject + Had + Past Participle form of Verb + Object


  • had never seen such a beautiful  horse before.
  • He understood the movie only because he had read the book.
  • Cara had never been to a pub before last night.
  • We didn’t get a room in the hotel because we had not booked in advance.

Past Perfect Continuous Tense

A continuous action that was completed sometime in the past falls under Past Perfect Continuous tense. Such sentences are framed by using the modal, ‘had’ + ‘been’ + the present participle of the verb (-ing).


Subject + Had + Been + Verb (ing) + Object


  • had been playing the piano all morning.
  • had been sleeping all the way from the beginning of the lecture.
  • He had been trying to call her.
  • Until this year, Lucy had been going to a village school.
  • The baby had been crying out loud for minutes when her mother fed her.

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