The Woes of Present Tense

This morning is the first time I’ve been able to write since my little one was born 4 weeks ago. 716 words! Woohoo! Since my goal is a very teensy, weensy 250 words per day, this is an accomplishment.

My current frustration–present tense. You see, I got it into my head that I wanted to write my book in first person, present tense. And can I say that it is not easy? Well, it’s not. You can’t just write in the present the same way you would write in the past. Simply changing the verb tense doesn’t quite get it. Inevitably, there are phrases that sound terrible–sometimes whole paragraphs–and I have no idea how to fix it.

I figure the best way to unlock the secret of present tense writing is to read and read and read. But I think many authors have figured out that it’s hard too, because most books stick to the past. Suzanne Collins seems to have it figured out in The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. At least, according to my definition of successful present tense writing, she’s got it.

My definition: If you don’t notice it’s in the present after the first couple pages, it’s a success.

My guess is if I were to offer 50 people a chance to read what I’ve written so far, at least 45 of them would say they noticed after the first page. Sigh. So now I turn to The Hunger Games yet again to read up on my tenses. (Darn. I have to read it again. What a tough life. 😉

Anyone have suggestions for other good books written in the present?

About Karen Krueger

I write for teens when I'm not chasing after two cute kids. I love to sing and eat cereal (though not at the same time), and I most certainly am not a vampire because I'm addicted to sunshine.
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