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#1065426 - Fri Sep 19 2014 12:33 PM Present Tense
baldhair Offline
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Registered: Tue Aug 05 2014
Posts: 81
Loc: Gloucestershire UK
I love reading. But I cannot read books written in the present tense. I thoroughly enjoyed the novels of Patricia Cornwell, reading each one as it was published. Then, suddenly, the latest Scarpetta novel was written in the present tense. Similarly, Robert Harris's latest, "An Officer and a Spy", is in the present tense. Can't read it. None of my family or friends has this trouble. Does anyone else?

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#1065931 - Mon Sep 22 2014 02:07 AM Re: Present Tense
trident Offline
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Registered: Sun Feb 20 2005
Posts: 2959
Loc: Wisconsin USA
I'll bite. Present tense is certainly a tall task for fiction writing. I never found it very useful, though I know some authors are trying to experiment and play around with different tenses and such, but sometimes it falls flat.

I think the biggest annoyance I would have with this sort of thing is when someone writes in the second person POV. It just sounds so annoying when someone is like, "You open the door and walk through. You take a right..." etc. It's very odd for some reason when you are being told your own actions.
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#1065998 - Mon Sep 22 2014 02:10 PM Re: Present Tense
guitargoddess Online   FT-cool
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Registered: Mon Jul 09 2007
Posts: 39067
Loc: Ottawa Ontario Canada         
Present tense doesn't bother me to the extent that I can't read the book if it's in present tense but I do notice and I MUCH prefer past tense. The book I just finished was in present and I adjusted to it ok but some verbs really stuck out as awkward. Like "The town where Werner grows up is..." It seemed awfully strange to me to put a phrase like that in present tense. Or at least "where he is growing up" might have been better. Or just 'grew up' like it should be!
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#1066014 - Mon Sep 22 2014 06:35 PM Re: Present Tense
agony Offline

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Registered: Sat Mar 29 2003
Posts: 14746
Loc: Western Canada
Sometimes that sense of discomfort and dislocation is exactly what the author is aiming for.

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#1066037 - Tue Sep 23 2014 02:09 AM Re: Present Tense
baldhair Offline
Explorer

Registered: Tue Aug 05 2014
Posts: 81
Loc: Gloucestershire UK
Thanks for your inputs. I'm not an author, but I should think a special effort has to be made to write a whole book in the present tense. It doesn't seem natural. Why is it done? What effect is the author aiming for? It seems to me a little unrealistic to write in such a way. After all, presumably he/she wishes to sell, and must be aware that the use of the present tense will put off some prospective readers/buyers. It certainly puts me off, and I can't believe I'm alone in this.

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#1066071 - Tue Sep 23 2014 09:55 AM Re: Present Tense
agony Offline

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Registered: Sat Mar 29 2003
Posts: 14746
Loc: Western Canada
Sure, I'd assume an author wants to sell as opposed to NOT wanting to sell, but anyone writing a novel in present tense would be aware that it would not be likely to be a commercial product. It would be more of an artistic endeavor.

Just as we have "art films" which are sometimes rather difficult and not too accessible, and Hollywood blockbusters, which are the opposite.

Chances are pretty high that someone writing in a way which strongly challenges the reader or puts the reader off balance is more interested in following a certain artistic vision than in making a potload of money. If that vision doesn't speak to you, you're certainly within your rights not to like it, or to consider it a failure. Not all art is good art, and not even all good art is meaningful or worthwhile to everybody.

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#1066187 - Wed Sep 24 2014 05:59 AM Re: Present Tense
baldhair Offline
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Registered: Tue Aug 05 2014
Posts: 81
Loc: Gloucestershire UK
Yes, I see your point agony, and agree with reservations. I find it difficult to understand why a writer of thrillers such as Patricia Cornwell would attempt to inject anything approaching artistic vision into her series of novels. A series that is aimed at a certain type of reader, whose choice of reading material isn't artistic in any way. Certainly my choice isn't, and I like thrillers. Still, no matter. I can choose to read her books, or not.

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#1066207 - Wed Sep 24 2014 09:10 AM Re: Present Tense
agony Offline

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Registered: Sat Mar 29 2003
Posts: 14746
Loc: Western Canada
Personally, I have enough issues with her writing style that a tense problem would be just a drop in the bucket..... smile

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#1066259 - Wed Sep 24 2014 05:06 PM Re: Present Tense
supersal1 Offline
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Registered: Sat Jul 17 2004
Posts: 726
Loc: Essex UK
If Patricia Cornwall wanted to change the style of her books, how about having one of the main characters laugh occasionally, or at least get some enjoyment out of life?

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#1066269 - Wed Sep 24 2014 06:26 PM Re: Present Tense
agony Offline

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Registered: Sat Mar 29 2003
Posts: 14746
Loc: Western Canada
They can't laugh, the stick is too far up there......

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#1067278 - Wed Oct 01 2014 04:50 PM Re: Present Tense
HairyBear Offline
Mainstay

Registered: Fri Sep 01 2006
Posts: 618
Loc: Florida USA
I don't read a lot of fiction, so this doesn't come up for me often. That novel with no letter "e" in it was written in present tense out of necessity. It's terrible, but I can't say that it's the tense or just the writing.

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