Past Tense Vs Present Tense

When I first started writing, my opinion was that the tense didn’t matter. My entire focus was to get the story out, get the story told exactly the way I needed. And the only way for me to do that was to write in present tense. Even now after writing for almost two years, I write in present tense. The only way to explain it is that in my mind, the story is happening in this very moment. The feelings as purely written as I feel in that moment.

So when the discussion of tense change came about, I sided with present tense. I was already writing that way and it seemed to be my personal preference. I didn’t understand the difficulty of reading present tense versus past tense after reading my own stories so many times. And to be clear, I’m not putting down anyone who prefers to read or write either tense.

I’m in the process of getting Glimmer of Hope edited. And one of the first things that my editor stated was that it would be easier for readers if it were written in past tense. While I’ve been possibly stubborn on sticking to my present tense side of the fence, my only purpose is to get my story out there. Isn’t that what really matters?

And as if to put this into perspective, the next book I purchased on Amazon was written in present tense. While I am in total agreement of going through situations with the characters, loving every minute of it might I add, that I had to make an adjustment to get into the writing style. It wasn’t a hard adjustment but I still had to make one and I’m open to the present tense. I could only imagine someone not interested in present tense, taking one look and then putting it down.

While the preference of tense still seems to be in debate, the real question still remains. However it isn’t the question that most would think it is. Some people don’t like westerns or science fiction but that doesn’t mean writers should stop writing it. It is all about reader preference. What are you willing to risk to get your story out there? Are you willing to risk losing readers because of your writing preference?

And only you can answer that.

4 thoughts on “Past Tense Vs Present Tense

  1. robakers says:

    Great Post.

    For me it comes back to a simple thought. It is difficult to break the mold of conventional expectations like writing in present tense, writing in 2nd person POV, or other abstract forms of literature that I have never heard of. Yes, some of the truly gifted writers can pull this off and make it magical.

    Most writers are not that gifted. And why should I try to fool myself into thinking that I could be like that. Why not stay mainstream with the accepted format of 3rd person POV, written in past tense. But blow people’s socks off with a great story and amazing characters. Clutching to the belief that no one can tell the story, like me. That is where my emphasis will remain.

    Maybe one day, I will have a published novel to prove my point. Until then I enjoy the discussion. Best wishes.

    • mlnewman87 says:

      It is extremely difficult to break the mold, I totally agree. Especially when the readers are used to the same old thing. Maybe one day, things will evolve enough that there wont be a debate but instead acceptance of both. In the end the ones missing out are the readers, not the writers.

  2. Phenomenal post! I really like this because: I firmly believe that too many rules hinder creativity. In the end, if the Author does not operate in the old adage: ‘To thine own self be true’ it is the reader who suffers.
    Thank you for sharing…

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