I've thought a lot about present tense lately. Mainly because I've been completely immersed in editing my WIP--which finally has a permanent title: SO DEAD (thanks to brainstorming from super awesome Michelle)--and it's written in present tense. I'm currently reading WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson, which is in present tense. Not to mention recent beta reads, and other books I've read since the start of the year.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
But what spurred me to actually want to blog about it was keeping a loose eye on some of the entries in this month's Secret Agent contest on Miss Snark's First Victim. Just because I'm a curious stalker like that. Anyway, I noticed some comments that deemed a particular passage unlikeable for the pure fact that it was written in present tense. And it's not like it's the first time I've seen that attitude toward present tense. Honestly, I used to think I didn't like present tense, although this attitude went promptly out the window when I started actually reading things in present tense.
What I saw, though, that interested me was this questioning as to why a person 'needs' to write something in present tense. I've seen this question come up on Absolute Write, too. And it's a strange question, to me, for writers to be asking. Like asking why it 'needs' to be in past tense, or first person, or third person. It is what it is. But just for the sake of it, here is why I decided to write in present tense:
I actually started this WIP in past tense. I really never envisioned myself being able to write present tense very well. Figured I would just confuse the hell out of myself. The first chapter was in past tense, but something just wasn't quite right. So I thought, what the hell, I may as well try it, and switched over, and it just...worked.
With present tense, there's sort of an immediacy that the story really needed. I'm not saying you can't create an immediacy with past tense, because you can. But present tense is Happening Right Now, and sometimes a story is just meant to be told that way.
So I guess my hope is that people will consider the merits of a particular style, even if they, personally, aren't into it. Not just because I wrote a present tense story and want people to like it (which, obviously, I do) but because if you write off present tense as a whole, you are missing a TON of amazing stories.