He said, she says (differences in past and present tense in fiction)
July 30, 2019 7:21 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for comparisons between differences in tenses in fiction, and how they can change the tone of the writing. I'm especially looking to read accounts from authors that go into how they determine which tense to use as a deliberate style choice. Does this sound familiar to something you've read?

Perfunctory searching gives me Writing 101 articles and Reddit discussions from askers who are indecisive on which is "best", or which one they should use for their specific project. I don't want this. I want confident decisions, "I used present tense for this novel to add a sense of urgency" author insights, academic writing that contrasts the two, essays that compare reader responses, analysis on why some cultures prefer one or the other in storytelling, etc.

This topic is fascinating to me, but I'm having such a hard time finding what I want to read about it. Author critiques on one or the other, like Philip Pullman's essay on why he dislikes the present tense, are also fair game. If I've missed a previous Ask about this, a Previously link is also welcomed. Thank you!
posted by lesser weasel to Writing & Language (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm not absolutely certain but I think Le Guin's On Steering The Craft has a section on tenses and their use. I don't have my copy to hand to check but reviews mention her talking about tenses, and she gets fairly technical about narrative structure and reader impact.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 4:41 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


Elly Griffiths is a British crime writer, whose Ruth Galloway novels are written in the present tense. She writes a bit about it here
posted by JJZByBffqU at 5:11 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


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