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blop
July 15th, 2005, 04:18 AM
I have just finished a short written in the present tense (well, for the most part). I'm now having to go through it countless times to weed out all the instances that I inadvertently slipped into past tense - which I did numerous times - which are sometimes hard to spot. Except for parts where I'm refering to something that's already happened. It's actually doing my head in. I half regret doing it, although it's good practise.

I wasn't trying to be clever or tricksy when I started it; it just felt right at the time. It actually started in past and mutated. I then went back and tweaked the tense.

But really, present tense....why bother?

Jacquin
July 15th, 2005, 05:42 AM
The simple answer, why not? If done properly it can add a sense or urgency. Why write at all?

J

blop
July 15th, 2005, 05:53 AM
Errr, fair. But not really the point I was trying to get at. Let me clarify.

What I maybe should have said was "When bother?"

I wrote a whole story in present tense. I've not really seen this done that often, which makes me think it's maybe a little unneccessary. I think it not only made it hard to write, but probably a little difficult to read (but maybe that was just my crappy writing:-). What it did however was add a sense of urgency and tension to the piece. But should I have written the whole thing in the present? I'm not sure.

I think in retrospect I would try writing it in past and use some repsent tense for dramatic juxtoposition. Not sure if this works either though...

Do people tend not to write in present tense because it is hard to write, or because it's overkill, or hard to read, or just sounds rubbish?

kater
July 15th, 2005, 07:21 AM
It doesn't give you a lot of 'outs' writing in present tense and if it's too long then the drama/tension dribbles out as readers can't sustain the moment for a few hours :)

TheEarCollector
July 15th, 2005, 08:03 AM
Present tense is really a play-by-play in your face type of experience, I personally find it easier to write in present tense, but you have to make sure you can slow up the pace every now and then so readers don't get burnt out.
I actually have a present tense story here: http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/106p0.html
Maybe it will help you compare and come to a better idea on present tense?

blop
July 15th, 2005, 08:13 AM
I actually have a present tense story here: http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/106p0.html


Aha! first person present tense. I was writing in the third (eg. he is taking a shower). That really throws me. It's a nice way of writing, makes it sound a bit detective storyish. First person wouldn't have fitted my story (now published here http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/653p0.html if you're curious, or just bored), but it gives that feeling of involvement in the action.

That's a failry long story, but could/would you write a novel in that form?

juzzza
July 15th, 2005, 09:04 AM
Blending present tense with second person POV is an excellent way to build tension. You are essentially forcing the reader to become your character and feel what they feel, see what they see and think what they think as it happens. Past tense is an account, usually second hand and the reader is being communicated to... present/2nd turns your reader into your character but of course you control what happens...

It is a great way to write (and read) action, horror and build suspense. Seek out Jeff Vandermeer's Veniss Underground for excellent example of just about every tense and POV that is popular and effective.

See my short story in the exercise 3 thread (http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showpost.php?p=258787&postcount=21) for a poor but apt example.

Abby
July 17th, 2005, 09:19 PM
I wasn't trying to be clever or tricksy when I started it; it just felt right at the time.
I'm not a fan of present tense in third person POV, but I guess it's worth doing sometimes. A notable example is Black House, by Stephen King & Peter Straub. The entire novel was written in 3rd person present tense. I personally don't think it added anything interesting, and it annoyed me as a reader. Do you really believe your 3rd person POV story works better in present tense? If so, I suppose that's reason enough to use it . . . but be aware that some readers (like me) might get annoyed.

blop
July 18th, 2005, 04:15 AM
but be aware that some readers (like me) might get annoyed.
I tend to agree with this viewpoint. It's very hard to read. I still think in this particular instance it was the right choice, although the peice still needs a lot of work before it will really work. However, I don't think I'll be using it too often in the future.


Blending present tense with second person POV is an excellent way to build tension

Tried this form for a short piece and it actually feels more natrual to write than 3rd person present. Not something that I'd use repetedly though.

FriedEyeball
July 18th, 2005, 02:20 PM
Has anyone read Pattern Recognition? I found it really flowed in the present tense. I was really excited by it.

- Rozz