This is a very nice article on the rising use of present tense in fiction, especially short fiction. I find present tense creeping up more and more in sci-fi and fantasy, and I don’t care for it. I’ve written about the use of present tense a lot, along with first-person and other stylistic choices. For me, the ultimate rule is if you move away from standard convention, it should have a reason. There should be a clear reason why you are writing in present tense, or first-person. If there isn’t, and you’re doing it just for style or to be quirky, it’s going to fall flat. I’ve written a couple S/F pieces in present tense because it was right for the particular piece, but it was a long and hard decision to get there. As it should be.
More and more and more and more over the past several years I see novels written in the present tense. Though this isn’t necessarily some new invention, going well back in time to Dickens at least, past tense more or less overwhelmed all other choices for decades in there, and though there are three, only two are practical. Go ahead. Try to write a novel in the future tense.
I honestly don’t know how I feel about this whole present tense thing, having never really written fiction in present tense. My first instinct is that this is purely authorial choice. A good story, well-told in present tense is a good story, well told, which is all I ask for as either an editor or reader—and is all I’m going for as an author.
But still, this present tense thing just seems to be an outlier, a weird trend that…
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