Past and Present Verbs in Fiction

I was debating a day or two ago whether to write the next book in first or third person, and the subject of present or past tense came up in chatting to folks on Twitter. I was going to blog about it, but the gorgeous Nicole has more-or-less summarised my thoughts, so I’m going to be lazy and reblog her post. 😉

(Also, she just got an agent for her historical novel on Guinevere, so you should check out her blog anyway!)

I’ve always written in past tense. The only way I’d consider present tense was if I was writing a heavy action story where the pace was going to be through the roof. And I’m not sure I could do it even then! Old habits die hard.

I find that I adjust to present tense in others’ books (like “The Hunger Games”, or “Blackbirds” by Chuck Wendig) but it always takes me a chapter or two to get into the mode. Past tense just feels so much more natural to me. People have been telling stories for thousands of years, and they are usually told in past tense. I think maybe I’m just hardwired that way.


Nicole Evelina - USA Today Bestselling Author

I’ve been noticing more and more books being written in present tense lately. This post is really just my thoughts and questions on the subject. I’d love it to spur dialogue among my readers because I want to know what you think.

I first read a book written in present tense about two years ago. It was historical fiction and jumped back and forth between the past and the present. If that wasn’t confusing enough, the sections in present time were written in past tense and the historical parts were written in present tense. (Because that’s logical, right?) While that was very confusing, I have enjoyed several books written in present tense, such as the Hunger Games series, Divergent by Veronica Roth, and Alyson Noel’s Immortals series.

But I try as I may, I can’t get myself to like present tense writing. I’ve read that it’s supposed to convey a greater…

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