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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Sometimes, I like to start my novels with a scene involving the murderer/kidnapper/bank robber going about their daily business as a villain. Cleaning guns, polishing knives, etc. These scenes are always very brief and in present tense.

The creative writing professor who proofs my copy says she loves this technique because it compels the reader to believe that what they're reading is something that's happening RIGHT NOW as opposed to something that is being recounted. Of course, the technique only works in small doses. The rest of the book is invariably in past tense. I like to jar the reader with present tense, force them into the intimacy of spending time with the book's antagonist, then allow them to sit back while I recount the events afterward.

Another thing I never do, even in present tense, is refer to the antagonist by their name. There are no descriptions and no clues, aside from personal pronouns that indicate sex (I try to avoid these, too - if I can. Sometimes I can't). This, according to the professor (I didn't realise that I was doing this at the time) teases the reader with a glimpse of something that is actually happening, without giving them the tools to solve the crime.
If some agents and editors refuse to read present tense, that's good enough reason to use the past. But I stand by my claim the majority of readers don't see or care about the difference. Says grates no harder than said. Done well, they both disappear. Mr. T being an exception, IMHO.


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