Random Thoughts On… Present Tense

S. J. Pajonas October 15, 2015
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Past or present tense? I've always written in present tense but most people hate it. Should I switch?

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’m going to write my next book. Not just thinking about what I’m going to write, but how I’m going to write it. This includes spending my time outlining ahead of time, doing all the research, and reading up on what cozy mysteries are all about. On all of the message boards I go to, I see the same comments over and over again: people just do not like reading present tense. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve groaned reading the comments on message boards about how much people hate reading present tense. Because I write in present tense! When I was in college, I took a lot of screenwriting classes and screenplays are written in present tense. This is how I honed my skills and became a good storyteller. So present tense comes very naturally to me, and it’s not something that I’m likely to give up easily. But I want people to read my books! And a lot of people will not even touch my books if they are in present tense. Sigh. What should I do?

Well, the obvious solution is to write in past tense. And I love a good challenge, so I’m going to try it for my next book. I figure it can’t really hurt to try, right? But you can imagine the anxiety turning circles in my head right now, and how I must be worried about trying something this drastic. I’m already switching to a new genre, and I’m phasing in dictating, and now I’m going to try writing in a different tense? Boy, do I have my work cut out for me.

So tell me, do you have a preference for what you like to read: past tense or present tense? I realize that everybody has an opinion about this kind of thing, and it really shouldn’t matter to me all that much. But the hatred of present tense is so vehement on the Internet, I figure I should try to give past tense a go and see if readers like it better. Wish me luck!


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