1. hughesj
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    hughesj Member

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    Present Tense vs Past Tense?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by hughesj, Jul 21, 2013.

    My current writing style is 'First Person, Present Tense'. I wanted to make myself write like this and at first it was difficult but it is now natural for me.

    What do you think? What is your preferred writing style and why?
     
  2. UnrealCity
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    UnrealCity Active Member

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    I've been trying to train myself into writing third person in past tense. It's difficult for me not to slip into bad patterns of switching from past and present tenses. Hopefully it will get easier with practice and simply recognizing where my writing's wrong.

    I have chosen third person/past tense because it's the easiest way for me to change the time and setting of the story because the two main characters live in opposite ends of the planet.
     
  3. ladybird
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    ladybird Contributing Member

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    My preferred writing style is/was also 'First Person, Present Tense'. My novel is written in this style but I found it limiting because I was unable to describe the thoughts of the other characters. It is only the first draft so I may rewrite in the third person (is this the third person) dunno..... I've never written a book before so I just dived in. The style came naturally to me and I never thought about it until I started reading forum discussions, such as these.

    I also have the same problem :(

    LB
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't enjoy reading present tense. This is probably because almost everything I read growing up was in past tense, and that's what I'm used to. I've read a few of things in present tense over the past few years, and I don't think it adds anything desirable to the work. I doubt I'd ever even try writing in present tense because of this.

    I've only written two or three stories in first person and it felt awkward. The problem I have with first person is that I have to use the language of the character, and my characters usually don't have my level of vocabulary and education. Writing in first person literally cramps my style. On the other hand, in third person I can use whatever level of language I want to - that feels more comfortable to me, and it makes for a happier writing experience.
     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    The first few 'present tense' things I read I liked. But too many people on the band wagon has made it look like a fad on the overused slide downhill. Doesn't mean it can't work or isn't enjoyable, but it has the taint of a fad so if you're going to do it, it needs to really fit the story, IMO.
     
  6. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I find I really am put off by present tense writing. Bill Bradley's Life On The Run is written that way, and I almost put it down because I was so put off by it, although it turned out to be a good read.
    [MENTION=55335]hughesj[/MENTION] - I guess my question would be why did you feel you had to make yourself write this way? What did you see as the advantage? The fact that you had to make yourself write this way tells me it didn't come naturally to you.
     
  7. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    I can't really pick a prefered one, since I write in different styles according to the story. The two tense/POVs I've written in were third person, past tense and first person, present tense. So it's between those two. And people having problem with tenses, it will be difficult at first! That's why you can always edit.
     
  8. hughesj
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    hughesj Member

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    well, in previous writing I have written in past tense but I think that present tense will be able to keep the reader more 'in the action'. I find that writing in the past tense is like the character re telling the story at a later date. I can't really explain it but that is how I feel. It was also a nice challenge for me.

    I guess another reason I would do it is in short stories I usually kill the main character at the end (at least I have in most of the ones I have written) and it sounds better in present tense than in past tense
     
  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I think it really comes down to how you feel the most comfortable telling the story. My own experience as a reader is that I am "in the action" as long as the writing is compelling, regardless of the tense in which it is written.
     

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