Topic: The Pros and Cons of Writing a Novel in Present Tense
http://www.writersdigest.com/online-edi … sent-tense
by Brian A. Klems
This piece is excerpted from On Writing Fiction by David Jauss.
Recently, I asked one of my talented undergraduate students why she wrote all of her stories in the present tense. “Isn’t that the way fiction’s supposed to be written now?” she said, then added, “The past tense makes a story seem kind of ‘19th-century,’ don’t you think?”
Present tense has become something of a fad, and we often use it even when past tense would serve the story better. Whatever the causes for the prevalence of the present tense in today’s fiction, it is important that we understand its advantages and disadvantages so we can better decide when to employ it.
1. Present tense has more “immediacy” than past tense
2. Present tense can contribute to the characterization of a work’s protagonist
3. The present tense can reflect not only a character’s nature but a work’s theme.
4. Present tense simplifies our handling of tenses.
1. Present tense restricts our ability to manipulate time
2. It is more difficult to create complex characters using present tense
3. The present tense can diminish suspense.
4. The use of present tense encourages us to include trivial events that serve no plot function simply because such events would actually happen in the naturalistic sequence of time.