1. artemiss_quinn
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    artemiss_quinn New Member

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    Writing in Present Tense

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by artemiss_quinn, Jul 11, 2013.

    Hi all,

    I'm trying something new with writing in present tense and I was wondering how others find/found it. Currently, I'm finding it quite difficult. Not with the tense itself, but with the flow. I'm reading back what I have so far and it just sounds choppy in my head. Any advice?
     
  2. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    I find it okay and quite fun.
    I try not think about it it too much...basically, don't over think the fact you're writing in present tense. For now, write it as if you were writing past tense (But just present tense lol?).
    The flow is always going to be a bit meh the first time you write it, that's why editing after is very useful. Also, read present tense books. A popular one is the Hunger Games. If you're doing it right, the tense shouldn't even be that noticeable to the reader.
    How could I forget!: Write, write write....that's the best way to get better :)
     
  3. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    I had no idea The Hunger Games was present tense. I would like to read those books one day...

    I wrote an entire 500-some page book in first-person present tense, switching between characters from chapter to chapter. I started it when I was 13 and finished (and self-published) it at 19. The whole thing was atrocious. I think this is more due to my (lack of) skill at that age, though. I'm sure it could be done, especially now knowing that The Hunger Games was at least present tense. The only reason I chose to do what I did is because I thought it would be different and unique. I'd never seen it before. Maybe there's a reason... But again, I'm sure it can be done.

    I hope there was something useful in there... :D
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Quite a bit of YA/Teen fiction is in present tense. I've done a little bit with it, and except for the change in tense I don't write it any differently than I do past tense.
     
  5. Ann-Russell
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    Ann-Russell Member

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    I haven't read much in present tense (Hunger Games is the only thing I've read that I remember being present tense) and when I attempt to write in it, it inevitably sounds choppy and rough. I think this is partly due to my inexperience with it. In theory, it should be just like writing in past (as far as style) but for some reason I find myself writing completely different. The only advice I have is to read more works written in present tense. Also, you could try writing a chunk in past and then go through and switch it to present so you can see if the flow works better and maybe get more used to it. And of course revise, revise, revise. Good luck.
     
  6. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    When we tell stories (orally, where the great majority of all tales have been told) we used to the past tense. The present tense can work, but it isn't the natural method for telling stories that we are raised up to follow.

    Therefore, it can be quite difficult.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's a passing fad. At least I hope it is.

    I find it very distracting to be stuck in lockstep with the character's flow of time. Past tense is more flexible, and I see no advantage to present tense narration.

    Such writing choices should always be selected with a reason, anadvantage, and not simply "because it's different."
     
  8. CyberFD
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    CyberFD Member

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    I feel that my current story is more suited to present tense first person. I'd normally write in a past tense but certain stories I believe are born for certain POVs and tenses.
     
  9. Macaberz
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    Macaberz Pay it forward Contributor

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    I find it much harder to read anything in present tense. I feel like the writer is bringing painstaking detail to everything, because everything is presented to you in the "now". Gha, its hard to explain, suffice to say I prefer third person limited past tense.
     
  10. Kita
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    Kita Senior Member

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    I've never written in present tense. To be honest, I never knew anyone had. I don't overly like the sound of it.
     
  11. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Artemiss Quinn,

    That is a struggle with present tense. It often sounds play by play. It is a very difficult techique to master.

    I'd recommendt that you locate several novels that you've read and enjoyed written in present tense (most of the time in first person POV/present tense). Read and re-read the novels, paying attention to how those authors accomplished what you're struggling with, be it dialogue, describing actions, events, etc. Then, from what you've studied and learned, apply it to your own writing style and the story you're attempting to write.

    But, before you do all that, do consider if present tense is really the best choice for telling the story to the reader. If it is, and you want to write the story, then you may have to attempt it. Or you could build your writing skills on other projects and come back to it. Only you'll know.

    If you need ideas for 1st person POV/Present Tense, you can try Carry Me Home by Sandra Kring and/or The Zombie-Driven Life by David Wood.

    Good luck as you move forward.
     
  12. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Do you think your flow is better using past tense? If so, is there any specific reason you're using present tense? Just some questions to think about.
     
  13. ScottPCarroll
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    ScottPCarroll New Member

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    I'd have to agree here. I just don't see that advantage to writing in present tense. For a short story, yes. A poem, yes. A novel? I'm not so sure.
     
  14. MsScribble
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    MsScribble Member

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    I like present tense, both reading and writing. It creates more tension (is that the word I'm looking for?) But this does mean you have to keep up with your own writing - once you start writing in the present tense you have to keep the momentum. But I find it rewarding.
     
  15. Steve Day
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    Steve Day Senior Member

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    Beginners should not attempt a triple summersault with a twist. Best to start with the cannonball, until one learns to dive. That is an analogy.
    Writing is difficult. Do not make it harder. Go to 'Goodreads' and pick ten random best sellers, see how they do it.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, that too.

    But be careful about "random" bestsellers. Without naming names, there are many bestselling authors and novels that are not on the bestseller lists due to the quality of their writing, but instead due to herd factors.
     
  17. Luna13
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    Luna13 Active Member

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    I, on the other hand, do see a purpose for present-tense writing. First person, past tense always bothered me if the narrator is not a writer because if it is in the past tense and narrated by the protagonist it seems as if the protagonist is the writer. This is the only thing that I disliked about The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - Hazel states clearly that she dislikes writing, and yet the entire book is like it is written by her.

    With present tense I have found that the action seems more real and more immediate. If it is written in the past tense, you know the narrator will live, because they are still around to tell the tale. In the present tense there is no telling what will happen. I also like when books use present tense for the present and past tense in flashbacks - for example, What is the What by Dave Eggers.

    What tense to use is part of the author's style, not an arbitrary decision or an attempt to make the book "different."

    But I do despise present tense if it is in the third person.
     
  18. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    Unless that's the twist.
     
  19. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Viewpoint characters in past-tense narratives die all the time. I've even read books where viewpoint characters in first-person POV die before the end of the book.
     
  20. Gahmstead
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    Gahmstead New Member

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    I've tried this before. I found that no matter how much I tired, I would always find areas in the revision that I accidentally put in the past tense. Just be thorough and take your time.
     
  21. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I new here and I've been sampling work in the Workshop with a view to choosing pieces to critique. The one thing I noticed straight away, is that I instantly discard anything written in present tense, I dislike it that much. That's not to say that the work is badly written, it just jars my head to the point were I'd rather move on to something else.

    I've been trying to understand why I feel the way I do but, as yet, I can't put my finger on it.

    I've always had a problem with first person perspective too, but I think I'm finally overcoming it. I've the strongest suspicion that won't the case with stories written in present tense.
     

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