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A Question of Tense

I've read books narrated in present tense, but they're still a minority (at least in my experience). Have any of you tried writing in present tense? If you have, what did you learn from the experience and did you like it? Have you ever started something in present tense then had to change to be more 'mainstream'? If that even makes any sense.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 3rd, 2009 01:40 pm (UTC)
It's *much* harder, IMO, to write a compelling story in present tense than it is in past tense. You have to work a lot harder to make it flow and be easily readable. It's fun, in a way, to work in present tense and challenge yourself like that...but yes, in part (I think) *because* it's so hard to write well in present tense, there are readers who see it, can't deal, and hit the back button (or put the book down). Part of this may be the actual tense, and part of it may be conditioned response from so many experiences with the less-than-stellar present tense voice, who knows? But I think it does exist, this bias.
Mar. 3rd, 2009 02:06 pm (UTC)
I think present tense, from 1st person POV, even though it was my first encounter with it, isn't my favourite. From a 3rd person, though, it can work. I'm experimenting with present tense now and I'm having fun. I just hope it works for everyone else as well.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 3rd, 2009 02:18 pm (UTC)
Let me know how that goes!
I just hope I'm not shooting myself in the foot doing Gypsy Fiddle in present tense.
Mar. 3rd, 2009 05:31 pm (UTC)
As you well know buddy, I write in almost exclusively present tense... It takes some getting used to and it's a bit of a challenge, but I think you'll do just fine in Present Tense! I can always help you if you need it! JUST ASK!!!! XD
Mar. 3rd, 2009 07:12 pm (UTC)
What I'm working on now is, for the most part, first person present tense. It's difficult to keep up, that's for sure. I keep switching to past tense for a bit before I catch myself.

Other than that, I don't seem to have much trouble with it, though timing can get to be a little annoying. As in, how much time between event A and B and what fills the blank/shows time has passed.
Mar. 4th, 2009 02:40 am (UTC)
I think the first thing that strikes me about timing in present tense vs. past... Especially in first person would be this example:

I waited a long time before he showed up.

Fine and good. Now, the same line in present tense.

I wait a long time before he shows up.

That just makes me think... okay, why are you still waiting? Why aren't you DOING something? So those gaps need to be filled, which is a challenge I'm facing (and enjoying!) with Gypsy Fiddle. I love the 24-ness of it all.
Mar. 3rd, 2009 08:22 pm (UTC)
The only things I've ever written in present tense were a couple of super-short snippets, all fanfic. Oddly enough, though, one of them I began writing in past tense (1st person), and then decided it worked better in present tense (also 1st person). That was the longest of my present tense ones, I think; a few pages.

I've also experimented a bit with "bracketing" stories in present tense, one where the protagonist is remembering something that happened in the past, and also with ending stories with a short bit in present tense, for example where the narrator has essentially been telling a story about his past the whole time, and now he's done telling it and is back in the present time. But that's a completely different thing.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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