1. Wolfy Snackrib
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    Wolfy Snackrib Member

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    Question about present tense.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Wolfy Snackrib, Aug 14, 2012.

    I've written 30 pages worth of story that is in present tense. So instead of writing out "Frowning, he lit his cigarette and looked the other way...", I might write "He frowns, lights his cigarette and turns to look the other way."
    Ah you know the drill, so present tense. On another site, there was someone asking questions about present tense and there was a couple posts that were being negative about present tense, saying that it's more difficult to write and also to read in present tense. They didn't go particularly in depth, I think they were mostly just going with what's the standard and the norm.

    And today I found an article, someone giving his two cents about present tense and past tense.

    I agree with some of the things he said, and if it's really just tradition and social norm to write in present tense, I don't see that as reason enough for me to adjust and go with past tense. I've always felt that present tense leaves the right taste in mouth in my story, and it's not based on just some shallow urge to show off and be stylish, but it has function and deeper reasons. Plus it is in accordance with my urge to include rationalism as a strong theme throughout, meaning that it questions everything. Any social norm, any authority, any prejudices. There's a great saying. "Truth does not fear investigation." And so far by investigating present tense I get the feeling that maybe I should go with it no matter what people who follow the norm says.

    But I've just scratched the surface, and I'll be glad to hear the input of all of you to help me make my choice so that I don't overlook some key factor.
     
  2. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    As someone who is writing in the present tense as well...meh.I once read a book in present tense, which ended up inspiring me to write it for my current novel. So, personally, I like it. Besides, the tense tends to disappear to the reader...so at the end of the day, it's not that much of a big deal.
    Go with what sounds best/enjoyable to you. As long as you do it well, that's no problem. Make sure you read books in present tense to see how they did it and get feedback from people.
     
  3. Wolfy Snackrib
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    Wolfy Snackrib Member

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    Read books? You have no idea what you ask of me! Heh heh.
     
  4. fwc577
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    fwc577 Member

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    First off, wanting to be a writer without reading books is like wanting to be a football player but refusing to study game film. You will never be as good as that mediocre person who spends all night studying his film to show up on Sunday and kick some ass.

    Now that the rant is over. Here are my thoughts on present tense.

    It is INSANELY difficult to write which I think is more of a reason that editors avoid it. I am attempting to do my novel in the present tense and I swear to god everytime I re-read it I catch something not in the correct tense.
     
  5. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    Ha, I would expect you to be reading anyway but I meant specifically present tense books :p
     
  6. Wolfy Snackrib
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    Wolfy Snackrib Member

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    Here's a funny thing about me. I'm a movie person. I really can't stand books. I've tried a few audiobooks and that works out, but reading is just extremely unfriendly to me. I'm actually better at writing my own stuff than going through whole books other people have written. My mind is just in creative overdrive and has a hard time focusing on a book.
    About the only thing that would be beneficial for me in reading books would be studying how it is writing so I can mimic correct ways of writing so I don't make mistakes. Other than that I write just fine without reading lots and lots of books. You may find it hard to believe but some lucky bastards just happen to be naturally born good at certain things, and writing is my thing that I know I can rely on.
     
  7. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    That's a pretty big statement to make on a website full of writers and aspiring writers, but that's all I'll say about that.

    As far as writing in present tense goes, I find it more distracting to read than past tense. Youniqee is right that the tense disappears after a while, but it takes much longer for present tense to disappear for me than a past tense. When that happens, I'm much more aware of the reader and the words being used, and am less likely to be sucked into a story, which means I'm more likely to put the story down and not read it.
     
  8. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Not to get off topic but to address the reading issue - or non-reading issue, Wolfy, I'm a huge movie watcher myself. But I love
    books. Maybe you need to find books you like to read - how about books about movies? ( which I love ) - The Hitchcock
    Murders was awesome and surprisingly literate!
     
  9. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    I know one of those people. They're an extremely good writer and I was very shocked when they said they barely read. xD

    But those people...are VERY VERY rare. Even if you're already good at it as you say, you should still try read some books. I also wonder, if you don't like reading books, how are you going to finish reading your own? If you can't read through your own book, how will other people read through it?

    I'm very confused by this statement...!
     
  10. Wolfy Snackrib
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    Wolfy Snackrib Member

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    Don't worry, I will suck it up and read through my own book. It's kind of a given, I don't mind much. The main thing is just that I don't generally read books. Last thing I read was about two years ago, Richard Dawkin's "The God Delusion". It was mostly things I already knew but it was a nice book none the less.

    Just trust me when I say that I am a very very rare person. I wish there was any good way of summing it up but there really isn't. I guess only people that know me could testify to it. You wouldn't believe how often people tell me that they have never met anyone like me before, or that I am a completely one of a kind unique person. I'm not saying that to boast, I hate boasting. I'm just saying those things based on objective observations that others have made. And I'm doing it so that I can plead humbly to all of you writers out there that I have very different methods that work for me. I don't read like at all, at least not anything longer than a page, but I have other methods of learning. Reading books is not the only way to stimulate the mind and grow more intelligent. I really wish I was a fan of books and that I was a fast reader, but I'm not. And I do think it's a shame that there must be a vast ocean of books out there that are so awesome and complex and deep and controversial that I'd just love to get my hands on and read.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Reading books is pretty much a prerequisite for being a writer. Your exclusive focus on cinema is probably directly related to your feeling that present tense is the choice to go for.

    It rarely works as well in writing. Granted, there is a current, regrettable trend for some well-known writers to try it anyway. I sincerely hope it is a short-;ived fad, because I have been profoundly unimpressed with the results in most instances.

    Reading (voraciously!) is how you will see what really works and what merely sounded like a good idea at the time.
     
  12. fwc577
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    fwc577 Member

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    Well, it doesn't seem that our opinion actually does matter on the subject Wolfy. You have your story started in first person, you prefer first person and have no desire to change it, and you are going to be a best selling novelist because you have the talent.

    I really think we've about discussed the topic to death in this thread.

    I looked forward to ripping through critiquing your work in two weeks.
     
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  13. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    Pretty sure we were talking about present tense (not POVs) but yeah, I can't wait to see your work either :D
     
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  14. fwc577
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    fwc577 Member

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    Haha, yeah, I meant present tense. Cannot wait and I hope people rip it apart and tell me everything I do wrong because then I will just make it better :D
     
  15. Wolfy Snackrib
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    Wolfy Snackrib Member

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    It's nice of you guys to show your support, and I am grateful. I wouldn't really know if I ought to post an example from the story like first page or something. One page out of anyone's writing isn't really doing the whole thing justice when we're talking book format.
     

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