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Friday, December 5, 2014

Narrative Voice

Did you miss the recent dust-up about First Person Present?

My favorite response came from Kate Messner. No surprises there. She always manages to say the right thing in a way that's easily understood.

Click over to her blog where you'll find her very measured reply to why First Person Present often is the right choice.

Perhaps I'm not the best person to respond to the criticism. Although I naturally lean toward past-tense-whatever-person, I think first person present works just fine if the story calls for it. As does whatever tense and voice fits our stories and our characters.

My new book is written in first person present, just because that seemed to work best for telling the story. 

Speaking from recent experience, I've written an entire draft of a manuscript in one tense, found it didn't work and changed it.

That's called Revision with a capital R, people! Whatever works, whatever sounds right, whatever fits. There is no rule when it comes to what is best for a particular writer or a certain character.

If you really want to get your dander up, read the original post, with all its comments, HERE. 

Although I don't really <LOVE> present tense, to each his own. 
Whatever works. Go for it.

“I love you present tense. It's okay, Gus. It's okay. It is. It's okay, you hear me? Okay, okay.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars


Rosi said...

Thanks for these links. Interesting discussion. There is a lot to think about here.

Margaret Simon said...

I wrote Blessen in first person present for the same reason. It seemed right for the story. I wanted it to feel like we were right with her experiencing everything she was experiencing. When I started, I didn't know it was an issue.

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

I *like* present tense if it reads "naturally". My first book in present tense was CIRCLE OF SECRETS. I wrote a couple chapters before I realized that it was in present tense. I tried to change it back to past tense like my previous books and it just kept turning itself into present without me realizing it. It was the weirdest thing - almost like I was "channeling" the story from someone else. WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME wrote itself naturally in present, too. But for THE TIME OF THE FIREFLIES it kept flip-flopping tenses. I discussed it with my editor after I'd written an entire draft and we decided we liked the past better so I rewrote it over again. But not he first time I've done that during my writing life!

Augusta Scattergood said...

My buddy Greg Neri always says "A book will be what it wants to be." Isn't that the truth!

Thanks for these comments, writers.