Good question for the 90DaysBlogChallenge , personally I can write in both past or present. I can also do first or third person. I would not say when it comes to storytelling, that I do one better than the other– I do ’em all, and all well! But in the past I have gravitated naturally to present tense and first person. Most recently while writing my Unsolved Mysteries I’ve actually been drawn to the third person and past tense. More what readers are accustomed to you could say.
My next novel, Sacrifices is written in the present tense and third person, my Romance Set in Paradise and Romance in The City books are in the present tense but mixture of first and third. I guess I tend to mix it up depending on how I feel or how the story calls me to tell it.
Well, if we’re talking about preference yes I do have one LOL. I love the present tense style of writing, and also as a reader. Yes, it’s probably gotten a lot more popular now, compared to when I first started writing. I remember I had editors and publishers telling me, ‘no, romance is not written in the present tense, or first person.’ I gave that advice the middle finger, and kept it real and how I wanted to write. But in all honesty, what I love about the present tense is this: as a reader I’ve always found that it brings you closer to the story. While others may argue ‘that’s not how you recall or tell a story’, I really give this no attention. I love it as a reader, and some stories I’ve read I can’t even imagine it in the past tense, the present suits it. I also have found as a reader that it brings me closer to the character.
As a writer, when I first ever attempted to write a story I naturally, and I mean naturally gravitated to the present. I have no idea why? It didn’t even bother me or really occur to me to place it in the past tense. I just wrote and found it much more comfortable. I have heard other writers say it is, ‘more of a challenge.’ I really can’t comment I’ve not found that ever.
When it comes to the POV and person, again as a reader I do love a first person POV. Mainly for the same reasons as the tense, the closeness, getting to know the character. But I do agree it can be limiting, as in what you can show a reader I feel this as a writer and reader, who loves the first person.
How Do I Decide The Story Telling Style?
I let the story tell me, simple. Once I’ve outlined it and sit down to write whatever tense comes to me and feels more natural, I’ll go with. It’s as simple as that. I must say for some odd reason I did go with third person past tense for my Unsolved Mysteries the first two that I penned. I can’t guarantee that they will all be like this at all LOL. I let the characters and story talk to me, I have no real rules. But, as explained I do have a preference or where I may naturally gravitate.
Are There Pros and Cons For Each Tense and POV?
Sure, yeah I feel that there are. Some of which I’ve mentioned and do go into detail when I wrote The Art of Short Story and Novella Writing. However, I do feel that really it’s only a decision the writer can make, keeping in mind the ‘vibe’ I call it, they wish to give the reader. Do you want a little distance, or up close and personal? At the end of the day, I don’t personally feel that one tense or POV makes a story better, that’s down to how the writer writes it, or they show the story. I don’t feel that tense or POV really can enhance a badly written story, or make a good one even better if it’s already good!
What Have I Learned From Experimenting With Tense and POVs in writing?
First, to stick to what you naturally like. Ignore the words of others telling you, ‘this genre does not do that.’ Do what you want. Secondly, I think from writing more in the third person I’ve learned about ‘head hopping’ my editor has called it. The all important omniscient style of writing in third person. In fact, I really managed to curb the ‘head hopping’ and remain truly omniscient in my writing from writing Sacrifices!! And that’s from having a very strong editor to tell me to ‘pull up my socks.’ If you’re not sure what this is, basically head hopping is like jumping from one character’s POV, to another in the same paragraph, page, chapter etc. Either by internal thought or action.
I never really noticed that I had done that that often, but apparently I did LOL. So now I am much more aware of it, and how I could still show different POV’s in a better way in the third person, or remaining truly omniscient it was a great realisation.
In a nutshell, I like all tenses to write in but love the present. Same with the POV too I like them all, but have realised that the third does allow me to show more! Even if the first is something I love to read, and in the past have naturally gravitated to more when writing– not so much now. That said, I can’t say I would never write first person again. I just know I will, when the right story and character pops into my head.
Do you have a preference as a reader or writer? Or does it not really matter, as long as the story is told well?