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Can we all admit that novels in present tense were a fad? : Conversation question • Page 2 • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Can we all admit that novels in present tense were a fad?

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
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DrG2
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Re: Can we all admit that novels in present tense were a fad

Postby DrG2 » Sat May 31, 2014 3:44 pm

I didn't notice The Hunger Games was present tense until I was well into the book (I have other issues with that book). It can be done very well, but I think it's harder to do well.

Currently, I'm commenting on a writer's present-tense YA novel and there are times it drives me crazy.

Something he is doing seems wrong to me, but I don't know if it is:

"I'm going to the candy store," says Robert, "because that's where my sweetie works."

Since the dialogue tag comes after the bit of dialogue, shouldn't it be: said Robert?

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robjvargas
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Re: Can we all admit that novels in present tense were a fad

Postby robjvargas » Sat May 31, 2014 8:31 pm

Nope, DrG. That's correct. The character is speaking in present tense, but the action is in the present as well. So "says" is correct.

If, that is, the action is indeed present tense.
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DrG2
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Re: Can we all admit that novels in present tense were a fad

Postby DrG2 » Sat May 31, 2014 8:54 pm

I can't see the logic. As soon as the words are said, they are in the past, so a tag coming after the words should say said.

Would you write:
He runs down the hall, turns the corner, and goes through the doorway. He does those things because he had to pee real bad.

I assert that it should be "did" instead of does because the reader has already been told what happened.

Of course, the best solution to any dialogue tag question is to write them out of your text. :)

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Re: Can we all admit that novels in present tense were a fad

Postby robjvargas » Sat May 31, 2014 10:20 pm

No, the action is in progress as the reader reads that. So the tag should be in present tense.

But it doesn't have to be there, agreed. Assuming that there aren't other speakers. Else the tag identifies who the speaker is.
Last edited by robjvargas on Sun Jun 01, 2014 4:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Can we all admit that novels in present tense were a fad

Postby onceuponwednesday » Sat May 31, 2014 11:34 pm

Pretty much every piece of dialog in The Hunger Games has a 'says' associated with it. Mostly after the dialog. They disappeared when I read it.
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Re: Can we all admit that novels in present tense were a fad

Postby LMGilbert » Thu Jun 05, 2014 3:20 pm

I think the ongoing popularity of present-tense story-telling might have something to do with the "oral tradition" especially among the youth. They tell of past events in present tense: "So she says, and then I say, and he goes..." etc.
There's also a cinematic or tv-show immediacy to it, as if you are describing action and dialogue taking place on the screen before you right now... So an audience more familiar with tv and movies than with literature, will feel more at home with present tense narration.
My opinion, anyway!

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Re: Can we all admit that novels in present tense were a fad

Postby gesler0811 » Thu Jun 05, 2014 3:35 pm

Possibly because of my particular reading background, I always want to associate present tense with "Choose Your Own Adventure" style books that are all in second person present tense. I used to read a lot of those. And I had a Spider-Man book that was written like that as well, had a 'Choose Your Own Adventure' system in place, as well as a combat system and other stats/rules. One of my favorite books I owned as a kid. I had a Batman as well. And does anyone else remember "The World of Lone Wolf?" Good times, all in present tense, 2nd person.




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LMGilbert
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Re: Can we all admit that novels in present tense were a fad

Postby LMGilbert » Fri Jun 06, 2014 8:36 am

Is World of Lone Wolf related to the Lone Wolf and Cub manga series?

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Re: Can we all admit that novels in present tense were a fad

Postby gesler0811 » Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:04 am





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Re: Can we all admit that novels in present tense were a fad

Postby TerryRodgers » Fri Jun 06, 2014 12:37 pm

Reading this discussion thread reminds me why I don't care for present tense stories. I realize it's fiction, but the reader has to believe that the story is plausible, or at least that's what I always thought. Even in fantasy, if it's a great novel, I can believe in the story. So, how can I read a story in present tense when the story has already happened. It's not happening as I read it. It already happened one year, two year, fifty years ago when the writer first wrote the story. Obviously, many love it, but I guess me not so much. I guess my mind doesn't see in present tense. LOL

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