Past tense is the most used.
Present tense is rarer in novels but allows a more reactionary and immediate style. Movie screenplays are written in third-person present.
Future tense should be rarely used or limited to short passages.
Compared to novels, it’s more common for short stories to be written in present tense, but ultimately the choice is yours. You should choose what fits you naturally, but most importantly, be consistent.
The most common in literature and story-telling; the events of the plot occurred sometime before the current moment or the time at which the narrative was constructed or expressed to an audience.
- John sat at the table.
- I wondered where Catherine was.
- They were going home.
- They had found their way and were ready to celebrate.
The events of the plot occur or are occurring now—at the current moment—in real-time.
- John sits at at the table.
- I wonder where Catherine is.
- They go home.
- They find their way and are ready to celebrate.
Extremely rare in literature; the events of the plot will occur soon or eventually; often, these upcoming events are described in a way that makes it seem like the narrators uncannily know (or believe they know) the future. Some future-tense stories have a prophetic feel.
- John will sit at the table.
- I will wonder where Catherine is (will go?).
- They will be going home.
- They will find their way and will be ready to celebrate.
Comma splices occur when two independent clauses (sentences that can stand alone) are joined into one sentence with only a comma. This is usually considered grammatically incorrect, or at least an error in style.
A comma splice (bad style, usually considered incorrect!):
- “I decided to order a hamburger, the waitress apologetically told me that they ran out of hamburger buns.”
To correct the sentence, either seperate the sentence into two or completely join the sentences using a conjunction:
- “I decided to order a hamburger. The waitress apologetically told me that they ran out of hamburger buns.”
- “I decided to order a hamburger, but the waitress apologetically told me that they ran out of hamburger buns.”