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Fiction written in present tense

PC Master Race

Well-Known Member
Easier for me to read, that's for sure
Maybe because my english sucks lol
 

PC Master Race

Well-Known Member
Hmmm... interesting. I’ve been so used to reading fiction written in past tense. It feels so natural.
I do RPs and write my stuffs in present tense, it's simply easier for me to tell what's happening, what happened before, and what's gonna happen next.
The first time I read stories in english and saw that it's in past tense, I was like "wait, why this ?".
Because in vietnamese there's no past present future, all verbs stay the same.
Example :

Hắn / bước / ra khỏi / quán rượu
He / steps (or) stepped / out of / the tavern

Ngày mai / tôi / đi nghỉ mát
Tomorrow / I / (will) go on a vacation
 

Gushousekai195

Fanatic Artist
I do RPs and write my stuffs in present tense, it's simply easier for me to tell what's happening, what happened before, and what's gonna happen next.
The first time I read stories in english and saw that it's in past tense, I was like "wait, why this ?".
Because in vietnamese there's no past present future, all verbs stay the same.
Example :

Hắn / bước / ra khỏi / quán rượu
He / steps (or) stepped / out of / the tavern

Ngày mai / tôi / đi nghỉ mát
Tomorrow / I (will) / go on a vacation
I see
 

PC Master Race

Well-Known Member
To each their own I suppose.
I don't mind reading stuffs in past tense, though my brain might be mushed if it's too much. And if I were to write something, it's present tense through and through.
 

Jaredthefox92

Banned
Banned
If I'm writing the story I do a mixture of both, present tense when action happens, but to describe a scene I use past tense.
 

vickers

Well-Known Member
I'm fine with both, but I prefer past tense honestly... I think that past tense gives the impression of something that already happened a while ago, so it makes it easier for me to get immersed in the story.
I used to write fiction on present tense all the time though, in my teenage days. I still do sometimes, and I think it works perfectly in the case of interactive fiction (like text based games)
 

TyraWadman

The Brutally Honest Man-Child
If it's meant for a certain audience, sure, it can be great. Like self-insert stories and choose your own adventures... but if it's something about you/your own original creation, my brain is gonna shut off because most people will write present tense as if I'm supposed to know what everyone and everything is about when I obviously don't. Or they state feelings/ideas that don't line up with mine, so the immersion is ruined and I drop it.

But that's just me!
 

Faustus

Well-Known Member
I'm not generally a fan, but it can work under the right circumstances provided it's well-written, and it's in a suitable context, but I find it difficult to justify and can feel very awkward. The way I see it, past-tense stories give the impression of a written account of events. It doesn't concern us how the writer came into possession of the facts, the impression is enough. Present tense stories are things that are happening NOW, in the moment, as you read. For that to make sense, somebody must be the observer. Therefore, present tense makes most sense in first-person or second-person perspectives. Both limit your options somewhat; you can't realistically change the point-of-view to another character without creating confusion, although that certainly doesn't need to be a huge issue. H. G. Wells wrote many stories in first person and found ways around the problem, as did H. P. Lovecraft, though it's worth noting that both also wrote largely or exclusively in past tense.

I also agree with @TyraWadman with regards to immersion, especially when it comes to second-person perspective stories, but that can be partway alleviated by framing the story as a hypothetical situation. I recall a written short story based on a Twilight Zone episode that used this device to reasonable effect, but it's not the kind of thing you could do more than once or twice before it got old.

On the other hand, present tense is definitely better than future-imperfect tense. Imagine a story written like that!
 

Faustus

Well-Known Member
I used to write fiction on present tense all the time though, in my teenage days.
I get the feeling most people do start with present tense. Maybe it's something to do with the fact that the only way that the brain truly and naturally experiences the world is from a first-person perspective. We talk a big game about empathy and 'seeing the other person's point of view', but practically speaking we can never do that through any lens other than imagination.

Perhaps this is the reason why first-person writing can feel amateurish? Because we associate it with a childhood state wherein we only consider the evidence of our own senses as valid?
 

Yastreb

Well-Known Member
I have read some good books written in 3rd person present tense. Sometimes I don't even notice it until halfway through. Maybe it makes the story feel more relaxed, like somebody is telling it personally to you. Not sure.

When I am writing I need to pay constant attention to which tense I use. If I try to write in present some past forms will inevitably slip in and vice versa.
 

Gushousekai195

Fanatic Artist
I'm not generally a fan, but it can work under the right circumstances provided it's well-written, and it's in a suitable context, but I find it difficult to justify and can feel very awkward. The way I see it, past-tense stories give the impression of a written account of events. It doesn't concern us how the writer came into possession of the facts, the impression is enough. Present tense stories are things that are happening NOW, in the moment, as you read. For that to make sense, somebody must be the observer. Therefore, present tense makes most sense in first-person or second-person perspectives. Both limit your options somewhat; you can't realistically change the point-of-view to another character without creating confusion, although that certainly doesn't need to be a huge issue. H. G. Wells wrote many stories in first person and found ways around the problem, as did H. P. Lovecraft, though it's worth noting that both also wrote largely or exclusively in past tense.

I also agree with @TyraWadman with regards to immersion, especially when it comes to second-person perspective stories, but that can be partway alleviated by framing the story as a hypothetical situation. I recall a written short story based on a Twilight Zone episode that used this device to reasonable effect, but it's not the kind of thing you could do more than once or twice before it got old.

On the other hand, present tense is definitely better than future-imperfect tense. Imagine a story written like that!
I've come across a writer who writes in present tense in 3rd person pov.
 

Kumali

Lupine-American
Tom Robbins's novel Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas (which I recommend, along with all his other books) is written in second person, present tense. Interesting effect. Not every writer could pull it off, but he can.
 

reptile logic

An imposter among aliens.
When I'm deep into first-draft writing mode, I often find myself writing in the present tense. That is how my mind experiences the story in my head. By the time I have gone through the draft a time or two, I change it to past tense.

Unless I'm writing the story in the first or second person; writing in the present tense feels awkward to me.
 

reptile logic

An imposter among aliens.
I do RPs and write my stuffs in present tense, it's simply easier for me to tell what's happening, what happened before, and what's gonna happen next.
The first time I read stories in english and saw that it's in past tense, I was like "wait, why this ?".
Because in vietnamese there's no past present future, all verbs stay the same.
Example :

Hắn / bước / ra khỏi / quán rượu
He / steps (or) stepped / out of / the tavern

Ngày mai / tôi / đi nghỉ mát
Tomorrow / I / (will) go on a vacation
Yes. When I used to write RPGs, it was always in the present tense. Even in English, it makes perfect sense to do so.

I have had that explained to me before. Thanks for the reminder. I am fairly certain that other languages share that style as well.

Even if one has been immersed in the language since birth, English can be very confusing. When writing, I still stumble over subtleties like "comma ( , ) versus semicolon ( ; )". To paraphrase a Ukrainian I once worked with, I am used to language with hard rules and few exceptions. English is nothing but soft rules with many exceptions.
 

Miles Marsalis

The Last DJ.
I feel writing in the third-person and present is fine, but I don't have a problem with first-person and second-person stories written in the present tense either since those styles actually preserve the suspense and or uncertainty surrounding the narrator's fate.

I do tend to write in the first-person and present-tense, however, so maybe I'm biased.
 

Kumali

Lupine-American
Even if one has been immersed in the language since birth, English can be very confusing. When writing, I still stumble over subtleties like "comma ( , ) versus semicolon ( ; )". To paraphrase a Ukrainian I once worked with, I am used to language with hard rules and few exceptions. English is nothing but soft rules with many exceptions.

Indeed! As a native English speaker I don't know how in the hell anybody learns this language as a second or third language, especially as an adult. I have the greatest respect for anyone who does. (Not to mention a massive inferiority complex about it, having only seriously tried to learn one other language in my life and pretty much failed at it.)

Easiest way I keep track of the semicolon thing is that a semicolon is used to separate two parts of a sentence, either of which would be a complete, self-contained sentence (with a subject and a verb, at minimum) on its own.

I can use a semicolon here; both parts of this sentence are complete sentences on their own.

I can't use a semicolon here, for the same reason.
 

PC Master Race

Well-Known Member
Indeed! As a native English speaker I don't know how in the hell anybody learns this language as a second or third language, especially as an adult. I have the greatest respect for anyone who does. (Not to mention a massive inferiority complex about it, having only seriously tried to learn one other language in my life and pretty much failed at it.)
Don't mind me, just a vietnamese dude casually strollin' by ;)
 

Mambi

Fun loving kitty cat
How do you guys feel about fiction written in present tense instead of the usual past tense?

I find it usually more engrossing, because mentally you feel like it's happening now rather than already happened, making any scene feel more fresh and lively.

Simple example, a chase scene. If you're reading about it past-tense, you already know the outcome mostly...they're safe and escaped somehow. If you're reading it "live", then you feel anything could happen as the story's still unfolding in your mind, as opposed to after the fact.

It's like setting it in the past forces the reader to assume all's fine, safe, and we're just reviewing in a meeting or interrogation or something...LONG DISTANT from the events you're about to describe. Forces a disconnect between the event and the reader to me. Does that make any sense to anyone?
 
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