Thursday, June 3, 2010

Now is then, then was now

There is so many arguments out there at the moment about what tense you should write in. Almost all of the critiques I get back from the group give me the same comment "not many agents are willing to take on a present tense novel". But, that's not going to change how I write my novel. I find present tense so much easier to write in because I can hear the character's voice so clearly (and more often they're little smart alecs and their internal monologue needs to speak in the now).

So, why is there so much hate on present tense? You hear so many people say that they will not read anything that's written in present tense, but pick up a novel in the YA section and 1, it's probably going to be 1st person, and 2, there's going to be a chance that it's present tense.

So, what's the difference between this (taken from the start of Heroes):
  • Flying monkey robots, how original.

    The distinctive smell of burning wood and paper sweeps through the room. One of the shelves gives way under the heat, sending smouldering books scattering across the floor. The romance section, I think. Bodice rippers. Kindling's 'bout the only thing they're good for anyway. Something tells me I'm going to be the one who has to clean that up.

    I turn my attention back to the shelf of mp3 players I am supposed to be restocking. What's the point? Other stores let their employees go to lunch during a fire fight, but no, I have to stay and put the merch on the shelves. I think they want me to suffer.

And, this:
  • Flying monkey robots, how original.

    The distinctive smell of burning wood and paper swept through the room. One of the shelves collapsed under the heat, sending smouldering books scattering across the floor. The romance section. Bodice rippers. Kindling was 'bout the only thing they were good for anyway. Something told me I was going to be the one who has to cleaned that up.

    I turned my attention back to the shelf of mp3 players I was supposed to be restocking. What was the point? Other stores let their employees go to lunch during a fire fight, but no, I had to stay and put the merch on the shelves.
I thought since there's so much argument about which tense or POV is used in stories it would be good to look at the stories that people are reading today. Okay then, what sort of YA books are making it into the current best sellers on Amazon.com?

For 3rd person there's:
  •  Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
  • Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  • The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott
  • Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Rangers Apprentice by John Flanagan
For 1st person past tense there's:
  • the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
  • Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine
  • Twilight Saga by Stephenie Myers
  • Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
  • House of Night series by P.C & Kristin Cast
For 1st person present tense there's:
  • The Immortal series by Alyson Noel
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • Maximum Ride series by James Patterson
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (followed by Catching Fire and Mocking Jay)
  • Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
  • The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan
  • Wake series by Lisa McMann
  • The Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray
Wow, I didn't even expect that result. So, I still don't understand why people say that one POV or one tense is better than the other. If the writing's good, then that should be enough no matter how it's written.

So, what's your opinions? Do you like reading a particular style (tense or POV) or do you read whatever sounds good?

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