Author Topic: Third person present tense  (Read 2504 times)

Paranormal Kitty

Third person present tense
« on: November 14, 2018, 01:11:20 PM »
Like it? Hate it? What are your thoughts? Have some good examples?
 

Vijaya

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2018, 01:46:09 PM »
Not my preference to read, but if the story and characters are good, I'll stick with it. Most recent book in that style was Francisco Stork's Disappeared and it was good. Still, it took me longer to get used to the voice.

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Llano

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2018, 02:10:50 PM »
Hate it. Won't read it.
 

Becca Mills

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2018, 03:49:47 PM »
C. Gockel's I Bring the Fire series is the only thing I've ever read in third present. I think it's an unusual choice, at least for genre fiction? C. does a great job with it, IMO.
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Tom Wood

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Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2018, 05:12:24 PM »
I take it to the next level - Cinematic (aka Objective) Present Tense. All show, NO TELL.

IMO, it's the only honest way (ETA: for me) to tell a story.

I'm not (Indie) published yet (Coming soon!) so I'll be testing that approach with actual readers soon.

Sample of what I'm doing here: https://agentsofdisrupt.com/index.php?threads/introduction-to-ultra-mod.9/

I think it works.

ETA: The attitude of refusing third person present tense is akin to walking into an art gallery and refusing watercolors over oils. It's a mis-guided obsession with technique over composition. IMO

« Last Edit: November 15, 2018, 07:44:47 AM by Tom Wood »
 

Vijaya

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2018, 12:11:31 AM »
The attitude of refusing third person present tense is akin to walking into an art gallery and refusing watercolors over oils. It's a mis-guided obsession with technique over composition. IMO

One of my friends, an older man, hates first person narratives. He tried to read my book but it's just not his thing. I don't mind. We are allowed to like what we like and not partake of the things we don't. There are plenty of other great books out there that suit his taste. I give him credit for trying.

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David VanDyke

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Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2018, 02:32:26 AM »

IMO, it's the only honest way to tell a story.


So all the rest of us are telling stories dishonestly?
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Tom Wood

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Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2018, 02:40:38 AM »
Made you look!  :hehe
 

Llano

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2018, 02:44:08 AM »

IMO, it's the only honest way to tell a story.


So all the rest of us are telling stories dishonestly?

Apparently so. But to show how modern and inclusive I am I've decided to convert all my screenplays to past tense, even though all screenplays are present tense. Nobody should object, right? And since everybody knows it takes months or years to make a movie they should know that what they see on screen can't possibly be present tense. That would be dishonest.
 
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Eclectic Dan

     
 

Tom Wood

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Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2018, 03:23:44 AM »
Sample of what I'm doing here: https://agentsofdisrupt.com/index.php?threads/introduction-to-ultra-mod.9/

A PDF?   :HB

Better suggestion? I have a Bookfunnel account but they give all sorts of warnings that sending out a sample will usually upset some number of people who ignore the notice that it's a sample.
 

Eclectic Dan

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2018, 04:31:35 AM »
Sample of what I'm doing here: https://agentsofdisrupt.com/index.php?threads/introduction-to-ultra-mod.9/

A PDF?   :HB

Better suggestion? I have a Bookfunnel account but they give all sorts of warnings that sending out a sample will usually upset some number of people who ignore the notice that it's a sample.

 :hehe  PDFs are okay for me.  I used to release my newsletter strictly as a PDF (or printed) and people said, oh, I need to have mobi and ePub versions because PDFs are terrible and no one can read them.  So then I went and got a BookFunnel account and I offered my newsletter as a PDF, mobi and ePub.

I don't think anyone downloaded the mobi or ePub versions.

I've stuck with PDFs since then.
     
 

Jeff Tanyard

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2018, 09:14:10 AM »
I've given present tense a try in the past.  I was open-minded about it and gave it a reasonable chance to work for me.  I discovered through experimentation that I hate it.

There wasn't any "prejudice" about my opinion, though present-tense writers love to throw such accusations around.  And that defensiveness from present-tense writers hasn't done anything to make present tense--or those who write it--more endearing to me.  Quite the opposite, actually.  I don't like it when someone tries to scold or shame me into reading something I don't want to read.

There's an audience out there that loves present tense.  Authors who want to write in that tense should focus on that audience and learn to ignore those of us who don't like present tense.  Stop trying to make everybody like what you like.  Just give your target audience what they want and stop fretting about the rest of us.


ETA: The attitude of refusing third person present tense is akin to walking into an art gallery and refusing watercolors over oils. It's a mis-guided obsession with technique over composition. IMO


It's more like preferring Pre-Raphaelite art over abstract expressionist art.  I don't care how "good" your abstract expressionist art is; it's not my thing, and I won't be nagged or bullied into liking it.

It's the readers' prerogative to like or dislike whatever they want and for any reasons they want.  The readers enjoy this prerogative because it's their money that they're spending on books, not the author's.  When an author tries to scold or shame people into reading that author's work, it only makes the author look like an ass.


One of my friends, an older man, hates first person narratives. He tried to read my book but it's just not his thing. I don't mind. We are allowed to like what we like and not partake of the things we don't. There are plenty of other great books out there that suit his taste. I give him credit for trying.


This is exactly the proper attitude to have.   :cheers


So all the rest of us are telling stories dishonestly?


Well, fictional stories are fictional, so we're all more-or-less lying.  ;)
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She-la-te-da

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2018, 07:53:15 PM »
Quote
The attitude of refusing third person present tense is akin to walking into an art gallery and refusing watercolors over oils. It's a mis-guided obsession with technique over composition. IMO

Yeah. Whatever.

Stephen King writes in third present sometimes. Still hate it. Will always hate present tense. It means I miss some of his books, and I'm a big King fan, but so be it. I vastly prefer third person past, but don't mind first person if it's done well. The problem is, so many writers these days can't do it well. The character has to be written in a way that doesn't make it annoying to be in their head all the time.
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Michelle Louring

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Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2018, 08:52:35 PM »
Absolutely can't stand it. It just feels wrong.
The tense is suggesting that I'm experiencing something in real time, but the narrative puts me as an outsider. In the end, it just messes with my head.
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Rosie Scott

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #15 on: November 16, 2018, 05:22:00 AM »
I've never tried third person present, but I don't like present tense and I really don't like reading third person, so I doubt I'd like it. I can only be immersed if I'm in someone's head seeing what makes them tick, and I haven't read anything in third person that does that for me.

I like preference threads like these and seeing all the vastly different opinions and responses. All these varied opinions prove there's an audience for everything (even if it's small).

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Eclectic Dan

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #16 on: November 16, 2018, 06:02:39 AM »
Hmm.  Is this why I don't sell more books?  Dan's Lame Novel and Bad Fiction are both pretty much third person present tense.

I typically use third person omniscient past tense.
     
 

Crystal

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #17 on: November 16, 2018, 06:06:46 AM »
Third present is a strange choice because both first person and present tense put the reader right on the character's POV. Typically, readers who like first are more into present tense and readers who like third are more into past tense.

Even though I come from a screenwriting background, I found third present a little weird... At first. As with all good writing, the style disappeared as I fell into the story.

Third present isn't the norm anywhere yet, so it's a riskier choice. But it might be the right choice for your book. It works really well in action heavy stories.

I'm all about first present. I don't really like third, regardless of tense (I much prefer being right in the character's head), but I'll read it if other things about the book appeal.
 

Joseph Malik

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #18 on: November 16, 2018, 01:07:23 PM »
I did a trick in Dragon's Trail where I used omniscient third in past tense, but then used present tense a handful of times to describe things that have endured since the time of the story--castles, mountains, social norms--as opposed to things that were there at the time of the story but aren't there anymore at the time the narrator relays it. It's a portal fantasy, so by doing this to describe things extant in both our world and theirs (and using parallel construction in key phrases) it hints that some things in the fantasy world are every bit as real as the things that the narrator also describes in present tense in ours. It gives the sense that these things are there right now, and you could go see for yourself if you only knew the way. One more bump to the needle on the Suspension of Disbelief O-Meter.

I originally overdid this in my manuscript, and my editor was great at reining it in once I explained why I was doing it. She allowed me to sprinkle it throughout the book just enough to prick up the ears of the sporadic conspiracy-minded reader. ("Hey, wait a minute. He said that the castle IS there! See?")

I get bored really fast by most present-tense third person. Especially close third in present. Present tense is a straitjacket on its own, and close third as well; you'd better be really good to limit yourself that tightly and still keep me interested for three or four hundred pages.
 

Vijaya

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #19 on: November 16, 2018, 01:14:37 PM »
Third present is a strange choice because both first person and present tense put the reader right on the character's POV. Typically, readers who like first are more into present tense and readers who like third are more into past tense.

This! That's why third/present is a very risky choice.

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Gaylord Fancypants

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #20 on: November 17, 2018, 09:03:03 AM »
I dislike it, I find it grating and hard to focus on.

I can only really write third-person past-tense -- I can do others, but I tend to get confused and switch back and forth, so I settle on doing third-past for everything, it keeps it simple for me to be consistent.
 

PJ Post

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #21 on: November 17, 2018, 09:36:48 AM »


This was written in third present. It reads okay, nifty story. The problem is it's a lot like reading a screenplay, but if it works, it works. This one worked well enough to get a movie. With that said, it wouldn't be my first choice.
 

Doglover

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Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #22 on: November 17, 2018, 06:07:42 PM »
Any person present tense is impossible for me to read.
 

Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books]

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Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #23 on: November 19, 2018, 02:36:15 AM »
I tell stories that have already happened, so past tense is my preferred choice.  Usually, third person. 

However, I think first or third, past or present...this is all part of the author's voice.  How boring would it be if we all wrote the same way?   :writethink:

            
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liveswithbirds

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #24 on: November 25, 2018, 01:09:48 PM »
I generally loathe present tense, especially first person. (I usually write multiple POV third person past). However, I do realize that many stories -- or certain parts of stories -- can be told best in one of these tenses.

I think part of the prejudice against third present comes from the fact that it's often used in literary works, and can sound pretentious and affected to the genre-oriented ear.

The first book I ever read in third person present was Alice Hoffman's Turtle Moon, decades ago. Though it was jarring at first, it helped create a thick, languid mood, which was entirely appropriate. The story takes place in hot, humid Florida in the summer.

More recently, I read a book by Elin Hilderbrand that took place in different time periods. For the scenes that happened in the past, she used present tense. Again, very effective precisely because it creates distance.

My writing process includes drafting a synopsis, especially when I'm trying to figure out the story and the characters. I always write my synopses in third person present. It was while I was doing this for my current WIP that I decided to write some parts of the novel in present tense, to set them off and give them a different feel from the rest of the book. This, too, is a story that spans different time periods.

So, I understand why some people don't like present tense, but I'm also willing to give an author the benefit of the doubt that they know what they're doing when using it. However, I have closed up (and not purchased) many a women's fic/chick lit book that rambled on in first person exposition and summary for more than a few pages without dramatizing any scenes whatsoever.

Got no time for that!


 
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Blerg et al.

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #25 on: January 10, 2019, 06:28:32 AM »
 I'm more interested about marketability. Where is tppt accepted by readers? I have heard of it being more common in New Adult.

I've also heard that first person present comes up in YA occasionally.

Makes sense, as younger audiences are less set in their ways. I would assume it could creep into other genres as readers age into them.

I don't think it will ever surpass present tense, because as someone pointed out in another forum, when you're telling a story in real life you tend you speak in past tense. Flashbacks and past participle become a little more complicated as well.

I have editing clients who want to write this way so it pays to know where they might possibly market their stories, if they insist on using this tense. I still recommend strongly against it, because it turns off a lot of readers.

So tell me. Where have you read it and what genres(aside from literary) are more accepting? And how would you handle flashbacks?