Re: Present Tense Club

#1
Let's make a club to celebrate the joys of writing and reading present tense stories!

I actually don't particularly prefer present tense or anything like that, I just kind of decided to write a couple of my stories that way and two of them on this site have become quite popular. But I think there are some incredible advantages to present tense storytelling that are very overlooked. We present tense writers need to band together and talk about the cool stuff that present tense prose can do.

Re: Present Tense Club

#3
For me, the present tense has a major advantage over past tense because it lends itself more to showing and not telling. It's hard to write paragraphs of info dumps in the present tense because the present is associated with doing and not talking about what has happened. Thus, it helps you to stay away from lazy writing(at least from my experience).

Also, since most stories, at least in traditional media, are written in the past tense, trying to write in present tense forces you to develop a unique writing style that hasn't overly influenced by other novels. 

Re: Present Tense Club

#4
Vast reduction of exposition.  I avoid exposition in general, but present tense really keeps you away from doing massive exposition dumps.  You are more geared towards sticking within the moment rather front loading everything.

Streaming in details as it flows.  Past tense tends to get your mind in "postfix" or "prefix", rather than a "current" mindset when it comes to descriptions and where to put in details.

Scenes are more "active".  Setting up the scene leads you to make a dynamic environment for everything to happen in, rather it being a list of static details that you relay.

Re: Present Tense Club

#5

RavensDagger Wrote: Woo!

I'm all for strange and new writing styles! My strangest so far was a first person present-tense narration of a second person past-tense story. I'm thinking of writing a future-tense story about time travel in a little bit.

Future tense?! The only story I've ever read in future tense was Story of Your Life, the short story turned into the movie Arrival. It seems extremely tough.


I'm familiar with writing in second person thanks to work on certain comics and other projects, and that one is fun too but also extremely different because of the idea that the reader IS the point of view in a way.

Re: Present Tense Club

#6


Thedude3445 Wrote:
RavensDagger Wrote: Woo!

I'm all for strange and new writing styles! My strangest so far was a first person present-tense narration of a second person past-tense story. I'm thinking of writing a future-tense story about time travel in a little bit.

Future tense?! The only story I've ever read in future tense was Story of Your Life, the short story turned into the movie Arrival. It seems extremely tough.


I'm familiar with writing in second person thanks to work on certain comics and other projects, and that one is fun too but also extremely different because of the idea that the reader IS the point of view in a way.



Ah, but it's fun because it's tough. It makes you think more, and you get to practice writing in a way that you haven't before, which lends itself to you learning new ways to write and think about writing. Practice is well and good, but you'll never become awesome if you only practice one thing over and over. You might become an expert at that one aspect of writing, but you'll wither away with the rest. 

Plus you get mad writing chops from other authors. 

Re: Present Tense Club

#7

RavensDagger Wrote: Ah, but it's fun because it's tough. It makes you think more, and you get to practice writing in a way that you haven't before, which lends itself to you learning new ways to write and think about writing. Practice is well and good, but you'll never become awesome if you only practice one thing over and over. You might become an expert at that one aspect of writing, but you'll wither away with the rest. 

Plus you get mad writing chops from other authors.

You'll be very successful when you end up pulling off an entire web serial in future tense.

Re: Present Tense Club

#8
I never thought I would ever write in first person present tense.

I've always been a great fan of first person past tense (Zelazny's Amber as a prime example). Third person past tense was fine as well. The few times I tried something first person present tense it ended up typical (and horrible) fan fiction, Harry x Draco, Hagrid x Dumbledore, you know the stuff.

In fact, after that experience I never enjoyed a present tense book until, I hope I remember this correctly, Neil Stephenson's Cryptonomicon. So it was possible to read or write something decent in present tense...

Now I'm nowhere near as good, but I've been trying to get a few stories down on paper, and never could get it 'right'. So as a last desperate attempt I tried to push myself by breaking up a larger story in small chapters, speedily written, YA oriented, suitable for online consumption.

That story... got stuck.

So I tried again, planning to throw in every trope I could think of, then twist it into a pretzel.

That story (Kind's Kiss) is what I'm working on now. Actually, from an 'easy trope fest' it became layered, twisted, and due to the nature of the plot (which I can't disclose, heh) first person present tense actually works.

Yep, even I can't believe it. And for a change I got the whole plot worked out, know what's going to happen the next couple of chapters, have certain sections in rough draft, and it actually seems I'm going to finish this thing some day.

Ain't first person present tense great? :-)

Re: Present Tense Club

#9
Cryptonomicon - fantastic book, one of my favorites, but some of the chapters centered on Lawrence Waterhouse I find to be nearly unreadable. I don't mean the discussion on Gödel's work, but the descriptions of events and things like the Hindenburg.


Quote:Unfortunately, Google's sample doesn't allow a copy and paste, so the example did not make the transom.




The Bobbie Shaftoe chapters tend to be really good examples of present tense usage, though.
I like a lot of his writing, but as a stylist he tends to be overrated. He once wrote in an appendage to the Boroque Cycle that he preferred the language usage of that era to that of the Victorian era. I saw nothing in those books to indicate he had taken it to heart. Donne would not be losing any eternal sleep over it.
Also, I have to say, the last book of his that I read, Seveneves, the plot of it - humanity, nearly entirely destroyed, is ultimately saved by Neal Degrasse Tyson and seven women from a Davos conference/TED talk. Fire a round right there in my thick Iberian skull, already; whose knob was he shining?