Mirymom's Blog

Dangerous When Bored

Present vs. past tense: Which to use in your writing June 18, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Samantha Bryant @ 5:14 pm

I’m often thrown by present tense. It’s harder for me to fall into the story when it’s told in present tense. However, when it’s done well, and when it fits the story, it can totally be the right choice. I also read The Nightingale, and I didn’t even notice that the two sections were told in different tenses. That’s how skillfully the author moved me between the two.

Shannon Turlington

Over the past few years, I have noticed that more and more writers are using the present tense rather than the past tense to tell their stories. I think this trend started in young adult fiction, but now writers of all genres are employing the technique. Some readers don’t like this and will refuse to read books written in present tense.

The present tense is not a grating style choice for me as a reader, unlike the recent trend of not using quotation marks. (That trend, thankfully, seems to be fading away.) I hated it when authors chose not to use quotation marks because it almost always threw me out of the story. I had to keep stopping to figure out whether someone was talking or not. It got to be so common that I wouldn’t even read a book that didn’t have quotation marks. This rule could be broken…

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