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Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com • Past tense vs. present tense : FAQs • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com
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Past tense vs. present tense

PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2015 8:07 pm
by Justinsayen
Would having a novel written in present tense be a bad thing? My novel is finished, written in such a way, but not sure if I should change it. I don't know any present tense novels and not sure if I should change it. The reason I wrote it in present tense was to give it a feeling of being there as it happens. Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Re: Past tense vs. present tense

PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2015 10:31 pm
by DrG2
there are many recent novels written in present tense, particularly in YA, but they crop up in all genres/markets.

Re: Past tense vs. present tense

PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:32 am
by pls
Be aware that some readers, who just can't make the transition, refuse to read present-tense novels. My one present-tense novel was a little more difficult to write, or perhaps I should say rewrite, as I changed the main character from a male teenager to a female 13-year-old and the tense from past to present. I felt that the new form did indeed add immediacy and some angst.

Re: Past tense vs. present tense

PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2015 11:59 am
by TerryRodgers
I have a hard time with present tense, but that's just me. When someone says they wrote the novel in the present to make it seem like it's happening now, I just think, no it's not. You wrote this X time ago. I'm not fooled. To me nothing can happen real time unless I'm living it in real time. The good thing is everyone has different taste. If it's written well, then people will like it. Do what your gut tells you.

Re: Past tense vs. present tense

PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2015 5:42 pm
by DrG2
I just finished reading Doomed, by Chuck Pahlaniuk, and I had gotten to page 266 (out of 300+) before I said to myself: this is written in present tense. Actually, parts are past tense (flashbacks and a few chapters from a different narrator), but most is present tense.

Re: Past tense vs. present tense

PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:38 pm
by onceuponwednesday

Re: Past tense vs. present tense

PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:14 pm
by DrG2
I do think it's harder to write good present tense novels. But OTOH, it might just be that when we encounter bad writing, we point to the most obvious reason. "Ugh, that's bad. Must be the present tense."

Re: Past tense vs. present tense

PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2015 6:21 am
by tom9

Re: Past tense vs. present tense

PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:41 am
by Bob W
I was re-reading a Burke yesterday when it hit me-a section is in present tense, double space and changed to past. Not disconcerting at all. I tried to figure why.
I wrote a tension building scene both ways. I feel the present builds a stronger sense of immediacy.

Bob

Re: Past tense vs. present tense

PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2015 11:17 am
by onceuponwednesday