Verb tense that is.
*insert rim shot here*
Of all the books I’ve written, there’s one thing that’s remained the same: the tense. I’ve used past tense for all of them, no matter whether writing in first- or third-person narration.
There’s something about past tense that feels more natural to me to tell a story. After all, it’s how we usually recount our day (today I had coffee, I got the kids ready for school, and I worked on Halloween costumes).
It’s especially good if you’re the kind of writer that breaks the fourth wall. Past tense worked best for my Urban Fantasy, because my narrator likes to throw in asides, as if she’s retelling the story for the reader.
But for this new YA I’m working on, I’ve decided to try something different: present tense.
There’s something more immediate about writing in present tense. More urgent. It’s good for action-filled stories (like The Hunger Games). It’s the tense we use for synopses, and recounting exciting movies (“…and then Wonder Woman drops her cloak and climbs out of the trench and crosses No-Man’s Land!”)
Present tense can also add a sense of suspense. In a story told in first-person past tense almost always ends with the MC surviving (after all, they wouldn’t be able to tell the the story, if they didn’t). But with present tense, there’s no guarantees, especially if there are multiple narrators.
Of course, it’s not been easy sailing. At least once a chapter I realize I’ve slipped into the more familiar past tense and have to go back and correct my mistakes (I’m sure I’ll find even more when I actually come back and edit thoroughly).
Even with that, though, I’m loving the change.
So what do you think? What’s your favorite tense to write in? What about read? Does the style of narration (first- vs third-person) affect your opinion? Let me know in the comments.