Monday, August 23, 2010

Tense?

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Nope, I’m not asking about your stress levels here. Instead, today I’m bringing up tense in writing, particularly with regards to fiction. Why do we always seem to write in the past tense? Sometimes people employ the present tense in short-stories, although I’ve rarely even heard of using future tense. But it begs the question, why do we choose the tenses that we do?

I’ve experimented myself, particularly with using present tense in writing and I have found that I like it quiet a bit. It adds an instant tension by bringing things into the here and now. The only drawbacks I found was that with the historical fiction I write a past tense tends to give a better vibe as the events portrayed often happened long ago. Also, for better or worse, the publishing market seems to frown on present tense (at least as far as I can tell). As much as I like experimenting, it seems that that type of experimentation definitely isn’t rewarded in the marketplace. 

But let’s forget about all that money mumbo jumbo for a moment and concentrate just on the pure love of art. What do you think about utilizing tenses on the written page? Should everything always be in the past tense? Do the present or event future tenses have a place in fiction? I ask sincerely because I’m trying to get at the heart of this matter myself. So, what do you think?