Somehow I got to writing the current draft in present tense -- I don't know why or how, but it's kind of working in some ways. However, I'm worried. Do any of you guys (besides Jack G.) write in present tense? What's your experience with it? I've also posted in more detail on the blaugh, if you've a mind to comment there...

Thanks -- MK

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Brad Meltzer writes in present tense. He sells a bit I hear.
As Jon said, present tense is a lot harder to pull off. For me, it actually pulls me away from the story if not done well. It's like, I know this isn't happening now, I'm reading about it now, so it must have happened already.

That doesn't mean I'm a bigot about it; Jack makes a good point about the immediacy of present tense. Tim Hallinan pulls it off very well. The first book of his I read, I was halfway in and wondered why he'd switched to present tense. I went back and damn if he hadn't been in present all along. Very smooth.
As Jon said, present tense is a lot harder to pull off. For me, it actually pulls me away from the story if not done well. It's like, I know this isn't happening now, I'm reading about it now, so it must have happened already.

This explains my feelings about it, as a reader, very well. And damn it, I'm not going to write something that I wouldn't read. Problem solved.
When the inside of my eyes fells like concrete from staring into a computer screen, and Burn Notice is a re-run, I find my copy of, 'Guys and Dolls and Other Writings,' by Damon Runyon. It calms me better than a double Glenfiddich.

He can get away with the present tense. I don't know of anyone else who can. From 'It Comes Up Mud,' " Personally, I never criticize Miss Beulah Beauregard for breaking her engagement to Little Alfie, because what she tells me she becomes engaged to him under false pretenses, and I do not approve of guys using false pretenses on dolls, except, of course, when nothing else will do."

Present tense for dialogue, but it's always he said, not he says. My advise, stick to what your agent wants, no matter what. We will never be able to write like Thomas Wolf, D. H. Lawrence, or Damon Runyon. Just do what gets your crap sold. Final answer!

"...Only a rank sucker will think of taking two peeks at Dave the Dude's doll, because while Dave may stand for the first peek, figuring it is a mistake, it is a sure thing he will get sored up..."
I love Runyan, too, and he has a neat trick for getting away with present tense: the whole story reads as though he's sitting at the next bar stool, telling you a story. Things may have happened before, but he's telling you the story right now, so his voice and opinions make perfect sense in present tense.

That, and he was a genius.
I was about to say that only Updike in the Rabbit novels has written present tense that I can read, but I was forgetting about Runyon. My aversion is purely personal. "Says" grates on my nerves, and the effect gets worse the more I read.
Present tense is definitely a turnoff to some people, especially to some agents and editors. Okay, these may be the same 8th-grade-English-teacher-type people who micromanage you to death with font serifs and 1.25" margins, but they're the ones who greenlight your material.

Their objections aside, pulling off present tense successfully is extremely difficult. Sometimes it can actually slow the book down by not providing enough urgency for the plot, sometimes it does the exact opposite. But I just saw your post below this window saying "problem solved", so I'll stop now.
Personally, I don't see it. I don't see the problem going to first-person singular. For me it's the natural selection in creating a strong voice for a character, plus it draws the reader immediately into the action. Some someone takes a shot at one my my characters you definitely hear and feel the urgency in their actions.

I'm not trying to mimic Chandler, but the guy had something. Writing in first-person puts you immediately in the character's skull and soul. You feel what he feels. How can that be bad writing?
Tense, not pov, BR. Chandler wrote in first person, past tense.
Stand corrected.
Well, I might try it someday, but at this point I've got enough on my plate trying to get this novel finished and into the hands of somebody who might publish it. I don't need another hoop (trying to pull off an unpopular and difficult tense) to jump through.
I find that present tense is good for accelerating things and I quite often shift in an out of it. I don't know if I'd want to read a whole book in the present tense, though.

I have occasionally used the present tense to make the past immediate, but that is an old trick.


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