Friday, March 17, 2023

Pros and Cons of Present Tense versus Past

The question of writing in present tense versus past tense didn't even occur to me when I began writing and publishing back in the eighties. Or even when I started writing and publishing fiction in the late nineties. I never thought about writing in any tense but past. It was the norm. Only writers on the very edge, in my unschooled opinion, ventured into present tense.

Present tense almost seemed impolite, if I can use that old-fashioned term. The writer, the writing, was pushing into the reader's face, demanding attention over the story itself. I personally thought using present tense for a novel or memoir, for instance, was like shouting the story rather than letting it speak for itself.

That was then. Now, present tense is ordinary. Half the books I pick up use it. And as a reader, I can appreciate it; it doesn't feel wrong or awkward or too attention-getting to me anymore. Not at all.