Two first-person experiments You know the difference between past tense and present tense. One tells it like it happened. You might even be one of those people who tend to speak in present tense.
It meant I wanted to make a movie. I could come closer by writing it in my own book than by attempting to get through to Hollywood. Present Tense Lends Itself Well To Unreliable Narrators Since the narrative is so close to the action in present tense stories, it lends well to unreliable narrators.
Since present tense draws you even closer to the narrator, it makes that reversal even more dramatic. Here are five reasons to choose past tense over present tense: What I dislike about the present-tense narrative is its limited range of expressiveness.
I feel claustrophobic, always pressed up against the immediate. Past tense is a much safer choice. I want all the young present-tense storytellers the old ones have won prizes and are incorrigible to allow themselves to stand back and show me a wider temporal perspective.
I want them to feel able to say what happened, what usually happened, what sometimes happened, what had happened before something else happened, what might happen later, what actually did happen later, and so on: For more flexibility when it comes to navigating time, choose past tense.
Let me say that present tense is not a reason I categorically reject a novel submission. But it often becomes a contributing reason, because successful present tense novel writing is much, much more difficult to execute than past tense novel writing. Most writers, no matter how good they are, are not quite up to the task.
I think a lot of writers choose the present tense as a form of cowardice. They think the present tense is really entirely about the present moment, as though the past and future do not actually exist. But a good present tense is really about texture, not time, and should be as rich and complicated and full of possibilities as the past tense.
Writers have many more narrative tricks available to them than filmmakers. Writers can enter the heads of their characters, jump freely through time, speak directly to the reader, and more. As Emma Darwin says: To get the widest range of options in your narrative, use past tense.
However, with past tense, you have access to all twelve verb tenses English contains. Give me your hands, if we be friends, And Robin shall restore amends.
As with theater, novels have broken the fourth wall for hundreds of years, addressing the reader directly and doing so in present tense. I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the-world affected was affected by mine.
A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret; that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret; that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there, is, in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest it!
As you can see present tense has its advantages and disadvantages. Which tense do you prefer, past or present tense? Let us know in the comments section. More Present and Past Tense Resources:First-person perspective generally gets split up into two types: Present tense.
This is where you write, I go to the door and scream at him to go away, all in present tense, putting you in the action at the exact time the character experiences it.
It’s challenging; it’s also fun. . Present tense is more commonly used for first-person than third-person narratives, and might be tricky to pull off in a third-person novel. That’s not to say you can’t or shouldn’t do it, but give it a bit of thought before committing yourself.
I've heard people complain that present tense novels sound like screen directions, and for me, it IS easier to imagine the sentence Jack walks into a diner just south of Japantown as the opening sentence of a screenplay than as the first sentence in a novel.
Using first-person present-tense is intended to give your reader the immediacy of the moment, but to be convincing the writer needs firm control of the narrative and to be scrupulously consistent with the tense. I am a novice writer and I am currently writing my first novel in first person, present tense.
I did not choose to write the novel in present tense, the tense chose me. Naturally I prefer writing in third person, past tense, but it simply will not work for this novel. Present tense is more immediate and personal, meaning it pairs well with a first-person point-of-view, while past-tense allows for slightly more distance, making it more flexible.
Strangely enough, however, present-tense is the option that has a more film-like quality in this case, given the immediacy of film.