When I made the decision to go back to my novel TFTS, my first object was to become reacquainted with my main character Kawi. I was really looking forward to this because I had finished the first draft back in 2006 and with my memory the way it is…I wanted to ensure I remembered every piece of her mind and heart.
My other objectives were to fix any areas where I had fallen into 'tell me' rather than 'show me' and, to make certain it was my character’s voices and not mine coming through. Because I had already had my manuscript professionally edited I was not concerned about any major problems with my content and grammar therefore, this really was more of a “get to know Kawi” exercise. Or, so I thought..
As I began to reread my manuscript which I had written in present tense, I found that I was incredibly irritated by the flipping around of tenses, so much so, that I really wasn’t getting to know Kawi again. Finally, 80+ pages in (why I didn’t tackle this 10-pages in is beyond me…actually, not really—it’s called DENIAL and I’m VERY good at it). I stopped and dealt with the way I was feeling about my use of present tense.
I like to write in present tense because I want the reader to feel like they are going on the journey with my character as it plays out in the moment—much like a movie. To write in the present tense was very much a conscious decision and a conversation I had with my editor hence, my editor proceeded with this direction from me and 10+ years ago I was happy with this decision.
Fast forward to 2018, and I am not so happy with my decision…it was driving me nuts. Before I proceeded any further, I went back to novel writing basics and did a list of pro’s and con’s for writing in past and present tense--thank you Writer's Digest for the assistance.
Advantages of Present Tense
Advantages of Past Tense
Now, look at #2, in the advantages of writing in the past tense. Can I tell you this point jumped out at me BECAUSE…. I am now one of those people who find reading in the present tense irritating. Further research revealed this is actually quite common. Ahhhh?! How can I continue to write in the present for my novel if it’s bugging me?!
Sooooo, what was a getting to know you exercise has now potentially become a much larger editing exercise. I must confess, I haven’t looked at my manuscript since I made this discovery because I want to be sure before I embark on this little revision exercise. When I have my head wrapped around what I have to do, I will do it and realistically I know what I have to do and it involves using the past tense. But either way….my dear Kawi, I look forward to getting to know you again and to see how we’ve both grown over the last decade+.
What tense do you write in?
Activist, World traveller. Fan of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.