Readers, how do you feel about the use of present tense in fiction?
I have been an avid reader since early childhood. I didn't encounter fiction written in the present tense until I was an adult and then it took the form of juvenile choose your own adventure stories. Its use has become much more common, and I've been seeing quite a bit of it in fiction written for teens.
At first, it was a distraction, but I no longer mind it when it's done well. How do you feel about fiction written in the present tense?
Present tense: I walk into the room and look around.
Past tense: I walked into the room and looked around.
photo by Trevor Brady, freeimages.com
I've written several flash fiction stories in present tense. I do this when I want the reader to feel the immediacy of the action and the emotions of my characters. I find present tense to have its greatest effect toward the end of a story when emotions are high and an intense ending is looming. Present tense doesn't always work, and as a writer, I have to be willing to change. I know it isn't working when the present tense calls attention to itself and becomes a distraction.
Thank you for answering. I've noticed it seems to take a careful touch to use it well. For some reason, it works best for me (as a reader) in short fiction.
The longest I have written in present tense is 4k words. I didn't have any complaints in the comments about that one. It was posted in four parts, so there was a break for the reader. Flash fiction of about 1k words may be best for present tense.
Present tense works, but a lot of readers are used to past tense.
Thanks for answering. I think readers will become more accepting of it as time goes by because it's been showing up so much in teen fiction and this generation will grow up with it. It used to be seen as experimental, but now it's pretty mainstream.
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