View Full Version : Q Question of Tense
July 28th, 2002, 12:46 AM
It seems to me that most stories are written in past tense, but there are a few that are written in present tense. Personally I can't stand the present tense. I'm not sure exactly why, but I think it has something to do with the fact that it reads like stage directions in a script to me. There are however cases where it seems warranted. I was working on a piece a few weeks ago where the point of view was that of a war correspondent where it worked well.
I was just wondering what other people think.
July 28th, 2002, 12:52 AM
As far as fantasy goes, I don't think I'd like to read a novel in present tense.
July 29th, 2002, 10:25 AM
Wow, present tense....basically like the story is happening as we speak....it's not done very often, though Edgar Allan Poe made excellent use of it sometimes....almost all his stories were told in first person, and when told in present tense, it added suspense(those stories were usually told from a journal or Diary perspective)
I don't mind it if one's writing suspense, but otherwise it does get hard to read I find.
July 29th, 2002, 10:33 AM
I'm not sure whether I would like to read a Fantasy novel in present tense or not, because I don't think I have come across one.
It's an interesting question.
My biggest weakness as a writer is confusing my tense(s) and I have to say that when I am in full flow and write in present tense, at second read it really stands out (as bad).
Can anyone name a book in present tense and in any genre?
July 29th, 2002, 10:45 AM
"The Soprano Sorceress," by L. E. Modesitt: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?userid=3MS2EZ831H&isbn=0812545591
From what I remember, it's in present tense.
My personal suggestion is this: if you're a writer, don't write anything in present tense unless you have a gut feeling that it simply won't work any other way.
I've only written one story in present tense, and it happened because I tried writing in past and the words just wouldn't come.
On a writing forum (part of the writersbbs.com network--fantastic!), one of the members told me that she always writes in present tense and she thinks it's more "upper class" writing. Honestly though, she has lots of instances of tense confusion in her works and the present tense doesn't do it any good.
July 29th, 2002, 11:07 AM
Get a collection of Short Stories by Poe. The stories that are present tense are done like journal entries
"The Narrative of Gordon Pym" is one that springs to mind, it's of a suspense/horror genre. I believe "The Pit and The Pendulum" is told in a quasi-present tense...you have to read it to see what I mean...
July 29th, 2002, 02:42 PM
Feacus, I was also going to mention Modesitt as a writer who uses present tense. In many of his Recluce novels, he uses tense as a means of distinguishing different characters' points of view. For instance, he may portray the protagonists in either past tense or in first person present, and then the antagonists in third person present. I think it works, but it takes some getting used to, especially because the tense and the point of view also change between books in the series. I guess what it comes down to is what works best for the story and for the writer...at least in my opinion.
July 29th, 2002, 03:52 PM
One of the advantages of present tense is that scenes with horror or suspense tend to be more gripping. You feel like you are going along with main character, rather than being told what he HAD done. I've only tired this once, and it was only on a short story, but it worked well. But if I am totally honest, writing an entire novel in present tense sounds daunting. I don't know if it is the same for anyone else, but choosing words can be more difficult in present tense.
Powered by vBulletin® Version 4.2.1 Copyright © 2013 vBulletin Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.