1. The95Writer
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    The95Writer Active Member

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    Changing present-tense into past-tense?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by The95Writer, Feb 17, 2014.

    I have written my book in present-tense - it is my first book by the way.
    But, I am thinking about changing it into past-tense during the editing as I got a few more chapters left.
    Is it an additional benefit to have your first book in past-tense when trying to get it published?

    What do you think of this? Is it necessary?
     
  2. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If it's well-written in 1st person present tense, and that's the best way for the story to be revealed/told to the reader, there's not a lot of 'reason' to switch it. Is it less common than first person past tense? Yes. First person present tense is also more difficult to pull off. If you feel it'd be a better story (or a better written story) in past tense, then I would consider switching.
     
  3. The95Writer
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    The95Writer Active Member

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    It is actually, third person and present tense.
    I have read that most readers prefer present tense, third person.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Don't you mean, "I read (present tense) that most readers prefer present tense, third person."

    Far more stories have been written in past tense than in present tense. Even with the current fad of present tense fiction, the majority is still written in past tense. You can debate whether this reflects the preference of the readers, but the market does speak through purchases, and the publishers continue to pay attention to what that voice whispers.
     
  5. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    Most new writers who use present tense are trying to make the writing more exciting to mask the fact that they're doing a lot of telling. Check a random selection of books in your genre to see how many of them are written in present tense.

    The thing not to lose sight of is that be you using present, past, or future tense in the prose, for the protagonist it is always not only present, it's that moment they call "now." Anything else and you're presenting a transcript of yourself telling the story, like the narration of a slide show, minus the slides.
     
  6. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    I think that would be a smart move.
     
  7. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Present tense is perfectly acceptable. Unfortunately, a lot of editors/publishers don't seem to like it. Maybe that's because so many people do a bad job using it. There are pros and cons to each tense, and which one you use will depend on what you're trying to achieve. Try rewriting a chapter you've already written, but use past tense this time. Compare the two and see which one you think works best.
     
  8. The95Writer
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    The95Writer Active Member

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    Thanks. I will finish my book entirely for now and when I get into the editing, I will do what you suggested. Thanks

    I have noticed though, that I have been using both past and present tense.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Make sure you understand the difference between grammatical tense and narrative tense. The former applies to individual verbs in the various sentences, but the latter refers to howthe overall story is being told.

    It's normal for a story to contain a broad mixture of grammatical tenses, but youy should be careful to stick with one and only one narrative tense, at least on a scene by scene basis. And if you do use differentnarrative tenses in different scenes, you're in rocky, shallow waters. You might get where you are going, but you must really know your stuff!
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2014
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    It also depends a bit on the genre you are writing in. If you are writing YA/Teen (to the extent people call that a genre), present tense is fairly common these days.
     

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