Author Topic: Third person present tense  (Read 2666 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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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.
 

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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?

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LydiaLikely

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Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #26 on: January 10, 2019, 05:17:15 PM »
Hate. It.

Especially when the author switches from past to present in the same scene, and back again. Squicks me really badly and takes me right out of the story.
 

The Doctor

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #27 on: January 10, 2019, 05:37:41 PM »
Just finished reading Ed McBain's Alice in Jeopardy and he uses third person present tense rather successfully, in my opinion.

I don't mind reading whatever tense the story is written in, as long as it's consistent and well-written.

 

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Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #28 on: January 10, 2019, 05:49:22 PM »
Hate. It.

Especially when the author switches from past to present in the same scene, and back again. Squicks me really badly and takes me right out of the story.
But someone who would do that has no business calling himself and author.
 

Joseph Malik

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #29 on: January 12, 2019, 01:05:55 AM »
Hate. It.

Especially when the author switches from past to present in the same scene, and back again. Squicks me really badly and takes me right out of the story.
But someone who would do that has no business calling himself and author.

As I said above, I build tense shifts into my narrative specifically to amplify suspension of disbelief by employing parallel construction and reiterative phrasing.

ETA: I.e., I use present tense to describe a thing in our world that the reader is familiar with, and then, at a later point in the book, I describe a thing in the fantasy world also using present tense (because it "exists") and often using a sentence that has either an echoic alliterative or metrical structure to the earlier sentence describing the familiar thing. The brain hears it. It's music. You can't not hear it, even if you don't consciously pick it up.

Tense shifts done from third omniscient can also be spectacular when done for comedic effect, especially in portal stories where it can illuminate the faux pas and the fish-out-of-water perspective. Douglas Adams did it in the Hitchhiker's Guide series. Heinlein did it in Glory Road. Spider Robinson did it in the Callahan's Place series. There's a long history of it in SFF, but somewhere along the line we got this notion in our head that there's a "best way" to write a story that sells.

I have 320+ GR ratings and 120+ Amazon reviews on a book with multiple tense formations, and exactly two reviews that comment on the changing tenses. The vast majority of readers either didn't see it, or saw it and decided it works.

The fun part of this is that some of the readers who have contacted me believing my books are real have pointed to these tense shifts as me "slipping up" and accidentally stating that the other world truly exists. So there is such a thing as overselling your suspension of disbelief. (I studied sociolinguistics and the philosophy of language and worked in Army PSYOP. Soldiers I've worked with have since told me I should've seen this coming, but I honestly didn't think I was that good.)

There's a time and a place to play with tenses the same way there's a time and place to play with perspective. But like perspective shifts (especially first-person perspective shifts, which can make me insane, and which just so many authors apparently don't seem to understand even exist), if the story is just jumping around between past and present for no reason because the author clearly doesn't understand how words go, I pop smoke real fast.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2019, 03:04:30 PM by Joseph Malik »
 
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PJ Post

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #30 on: January 12, 2019, 11:50:07 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?

I write in first present, YA+. My flashbacks are also written in present tense. Everything is present tense, because I never leave that filter set just behind the MC's eyes, which makes past participles a non-issue. I wish someone had closed her eyes. That's still present tense. And dialogue is character specific. Some people will tell stories in present tense, some will tell them in past tense, some will do both at the same time, but either way, the conversation itself is happening in the 'now' of the story.

The key to present tense is focusing on this relative 'now'. The previous page is 'now' in the past, so any reference to it is likely to be in the past tense, although the narrative is still present tense. But a flashback can be shown in present tense too by having the MC relive the experience as if for the first time, rather than as a reflection, which shifts the relative 'now'. When doing this, I'd avoid referencing relative 'future' events, which would be past events relative to the overall story.

As for marketability - everything is marketable in terms of getting the sale, but not all sales result in reads...or fans. The important thing to focus on, imo, is making sure the story is clearly communicated, regardless of how much the tense jumps around.
 
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Joseph Malik

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #31 on: January 12, 2019, 01:36:48 PM »
The key to present tense is focusing on this relative 'now'.

You do this as well as anyone writing today. No joke.
 

PJ Post

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #32 on: January 12, 2019, 02:57:09 PM »
Thanks Joseph, that means a lot coming from you.
 
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Crystal

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #33 on: January 23, 2019, 12:17:42 PM »
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?

Actually, most people start stories in past tense, and switch to present at some point. It's an interesting pattern.

"Last night, we hit the bar. There was this huge guy there. I couldn't stop staring at his bright red t-shirt. So he comes up to me, and he says 'what are you looking at?' I'm totally lost. I look around for backup, but my friends are long gone."

For example.

First present is very popular in YA and NA.

Third present isn't really popular anywhere, though it does appear in other genres. It seems to be appearing more, though certainly less than third past. Chuck Wendig is known for writing in third present, though I'm not sure how well he sells without the Star Wars brand boosting him.
 
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JRTomlin

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #34 on: January 23, 2019, 12:39:20 PM »
Like it? Hate it? What are your thoughts? Have some good examples?
Hate it. I am not saying I would never read it though. If the story is really, really great, I will read it anyway. But normally it immediately loses me.
 

Blerg et al.

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #35 on: January 23, 2019, 12:59:37 PM »
Actually, most people start stories in past tense, and switch to present at some point. It's an interesting pattern.

That's right. And really interesting.
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Doglover

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Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #36 on: January 23, 2019, 05:43:50 PM »
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?

Actually, most people start stories in past tense, and switch to present at some point. It's an interesting pattern.

"Last night, we hit the bar. There was this huge guy there. I couldn't stop staring at his bright red t-shirt. So he comes up to me, and he says 'what are you looking at?' I'm totally lost. I look around for backup, but my friends are long gone."

For example.

First present is very popular in YA and NA.

Third present isn't really popular anywhere, though it does appear in other genres. It seems to be appearing more, though certainly less than third past. Chuck Wendig is known for writing in third present, though I'm not sure how well he sells without the Star Wars brand boosting him.
MOST people? Really?

I wouldn't read passed the sentence you quoted; it would go straight in the dustbin. And I certainly don't think that example would go down very well in historical fiction.
 

Blerg et al.

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #37 on: January 23, 2019, 11:15:58 PM »

I wouldn't read passed the sentence you quoted; it would go straight in the dustbin. And I certainly don't think that example would go down very well in historical fiction.

It was meant to be an example of how people tell stories in real life, not in writing.
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Doglover

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Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #38 on: January 24, 2019, 02:50:09 AM »

I wouldn't read passed the sentence you quoted; it would go straight in the dustbin. And I certainly don't think that example would go down very well in historical fiction.

It was meant to be an example of how people tell stories in real life, not in writing.
And that would be fine for dialogue, but not for narrative which I thought was what we were talking about.
 

spin52

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #39 on: January 26, 2019, 06:32:10 AM »
One more person here who hates present tense. As a reader, it just grates and if I take a quick look and the book's in present tense (either first or third person) I usually stop right there. I have only ever read one book that worked for me in first person present tense, and that was Carl Hiaasen's 'Basket Case', which was good enough that I finished the first chapter before I realized it was present tense. I think, however, that was the only book he used it for, so maybe he doesn't like it either!
     

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Eclectic Dan

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #40 on: January 26, 2019, 07:00:06 AM »
Is anyone in this thread not an author?  I imagine certain things may be more annoying to authors than readers simply because we may be more aware of techniques, rules, guidelines, etc. than an average person would.

Many moons ago, I wanted to make my own movies and I subscribed to magazines with all the how-to information, how to frame shots and do this and that.

And once you learn that stuff, you watch for it.  And certain things that didn't bother you before suddenly do.  As an example, way back then, there was a local music event at the park and they filmed it and showed it on public access.  My parents and I watched it.  They enjoyed it, but I found it irritating to watch.  I mean, there's a band on stage and the cameramen aren't framing the shots right.  People are getting cut off at bad spots.  There were shots where a cameraman moved in for a close-up and you knew it because the other cameraman was filming as the cameraman walked up on stage close to the performer.  And this wasn't a live shot, so why the heck didn't they cut to the close-up instead of showing the cameraman filming the close-up?

It was like, holy cow, I can't watch this.  This is bad.  It's frustratingly bad.

I wonder if the same thing happens here.  Certain writing choices may annoy us because we learned things differently or learned something else was the right way and so on.  So while readers may be like, wow, this concert is awesome, we're like, why is the author showing the cameraman walking into the shot?
     
 
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Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #41 on: January 26, 2019, 04:04:14 PM »
Is anyone in this thread not an author?  I imagine certain things may be more annoying to authors than readers simply because we may be more aware of techniques, rules, guidelines, etc. than an average person would.

Many moons ago, I wanted to make my own movies and I subscribed to magazines with all the how-to information, how to frame shots and do this and that.

And once you learn that stuff, you watch for it.  And certain things that didn't bother you before suddenly do.  As an example, way back then, there was a local music event at the park and they filmed it and showed it on public access.  My parents and I watched it.  They enjoyed it, but I found it irritating to watch.  I mean, there's a band on stage and the cameramen aren't framing the shots right.  People are getting cut off at bad spots.  There were shots where a cameraman moved in for a close-up and you knew it because the other cameraman was filming as the cameraman walked up on stage close to the performer.  And this wasn't a live shot, so why the heck didn't they cut to the close-up instead of showing the cameraman filming the close-up?

It was like, holy cow, I can't watch this.  This is bad.  It's frustratingly bad.

I wonder if the same thing happens here.  Certain writing choices may annoy us because we learned things differently or learned something else was the right way and so on.  So while readers may be like, wow, this concert is awesome, we're like, why is the author showing the cameraman walking into the shot?
I started publishing six years ago but even before that, I would never read anything in present tense. I was fortunate enough to have a superb English language teacher at school and she would have walked out at the very idea!
 

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Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #42 on: January 27, 2019, 01:33:41 AM »
Is anyone in this thread not an author?  I imagine certain things may be more annoying to authors than readers simply because we may be more aware of techniques, rules, guidelines, etc. than an average person would.

Many moons ago...*snip*

I've heard this referred to as "knowing how the sausage is made". And, I think you're right. I'm way less forgiving than I used to be, because, like you, now I know exactly what they're messing up - on an objective level. The flip side is I think I appreciate the successes more - for exactly the same reason.

___

I can't wrap my head around not reading certain narrative styles because of whatever - it's like not listening to a song because someone told you it had an odd time signature. Until you've experienced the thing, you have no idea what you're talking about - or possibly missing for that matter. Now, of course, once you've listened to the odd time signature song - feel free to sh*t all over it.  grint
 

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Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #43 on: January 27, 2019, 01:40:26 AM »
Is anyone in this thread not an author?  I imagine certain things may be more annoying to authors than readers simply because we may be more aware of techniques, rules, guidelines, etc. than an average person would.

Many moons ago...*snip*

I've heard this referred to as "knowing how the sausage is made". And, I think you're right. I'm way less forgiving than I used to be, because, like you, now I know exactly what they're messing up - on an objective level. The flip side is I think I appreciate the successes more - for exactly the same reason.

___

I can't wrap my head around not reading certain narrative styles because of whatever - it's like not listening to a song because someone told you it had an odd time signature. Until you've experienced the thing, you have no idea what you're talking about - or possibly missing for that matter. Now, of course, once you've listened to the odd time signature song - feel free to sh*t all over it.  grint
I won't read present tense because I find it amateurish not because someone told me to. I did read one story in present, because it looked like a good tale; it irritated the hell out of me.
 

Joseph Malik

Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #44 on: January 27, 2019, 02:21:05 AM »
Is anyone in this thread not an author?  I imagine certain things may be more annoying to authors than readers simply because we may be more aware of techniques, rules, guidelines, etc. than an average person would.



Everything the writer in the cartoon is seeing? The reader does see it, even if they don't realize it or have a name for it. That's the stuff that makes a book work. Craft is the bulk of the iceberg beneath the surface keeping the visible section stable. It's also the rabbit under the table that makes the trick possible. You have to be able to see it when you're reading as a writer; that's why we read.

And before we get into it, I will always maintain that the argument that deconstruction removes joy is bullsh*t; I can't imagine that an architect looks at a cathedral as being any less beautiful.

My issue with present tense in general is that it's usually indicative of an author's first attempt at a novel, and that's where I run screaming. Mechanical and usage errors, flat prose, and lack of story architecture typically follow on the heels of an opening in present tense. (Dragon's Trail opens in present tense as a framed narrative riff, so I know where I'm going with this. I make sure to get out of it in, like, three paragraphs.)

My experience has been that a large percentage of the time, a novel written in present tense is written with attention paid only to the top half of that cartoon--what a fledgling writer thinks a novel is--versus the bottom half.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2019, 02:24:57 AM by Joseph Malik »
 
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Tom Wood

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Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #45 on: January 27, 2019, 03:06:40 PM »
There's this list of third person present tense:

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/113598.Books_written_in_Third_Person_Present_Tense

It's not a long list (yet) but the titles are credible. All the Light We Cannot See in particular has some nice phrasing that negates the claim that third person present tense is automatically flat.


Then there's this list:

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/40043.Best_Books_Set_in_Present_Tense

Again, not a bad list of stories that includes some best-sellers that were made into movies. Pity they weren't written in a 'proper' format.


And also this list:

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/14615.YA_1st_Person_Present_Tense

Amateurs all, I'm sure.


 
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Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #46 on: January 27, 2019, 04:17:00 PM »
The fact they were bestsellers, made lots of money or were written by famous authors (I believe one of Stephen King's is present tense which is why I didn't read it) is irrelevant. These facts don't detract from the irritation involved in reading present tense if you don't like it.

The awful 50 Shades of Drivel was written in present tense, made billions but oh my! Thousands of one star reviews stating how awful the writing is.

I've read that many people don't read first person, but I have no problem with it as long as it's not pretentious. As Rick Nelson famously sang: You can't please everyone so you've got to please yourself.
 

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Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #47 on: January 27, 2019, 11:09:48 PM »
Large numbers of people love those books. They form fan clubs. Go to any social media site and search using a hashtag in front of some of those book titles and you will find thousands of enthusiastic fans. The author made a choice as to how they would tell the story. Their choice of present tense obviously connected with a lot of readers. A few one-stars within hundreds of thousands of reviews? Sign me up!
 

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Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #48 on: January 27, 2019, 11:44:05 PM »
Large numbers of people love those books. They form fan clubs. Go to any social media site and search using a hashtag in front of some of those book titles and you will find thousands of enthusiastic fans. The author made a choice as to how they would tell the story. Their choice of present tense obviously connected with a lot of readers. A few one-stars within hundreds of thousands of reviews? Sign me up!
Still missing the point.
 

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Re: Third person present tense
« Reply #49 on: January 27, 2019, 11:47:38 PM »
Large numbers of people love those books. They form fan clubs. Go to any social media site and search using a hashtag in front of some of those book titles and you will find thousands of enthusiastic fans. The author made a choice as to how they would tell the story. Their choice of present tense obviously connected with a lot of readers. A few one-stars within hundreds of thousands of reviews? Sign me up!
Still missing the point.

LOL Yes you are.