Tense

Re-reading yesterday’s mishmash led to an epiphany. I’m going to try out writing in the present tense for a while. Before I started my novel, I decided that it was going to be in the past tense. I don’t know why; I just fancied it. When I write short fiction, I use the present tense quite often and I guess I wanted a change.

The last few days, as I mentioned, I have been falling behind with my writing schedule and am now about 5 000 words behind. After switching to the present tense today, things took off. There’s something about its immediacy that was just spurring me on to write. Also, I felt that I was really beginning to hear my character’s voice in the present tense, although that may be coincidental.

My narrative is full of flashbacks and when I was writing in the past tense, I had to adopt the past perfect (I think this is what it is called?) for the flashbacks. The result was loads of awkward sentences (she had had to do this / she had wanted to do that / she had not had a clue if the sentences even made sense). Nobody talks like that so it did not really come naturally to write “had had” all the time and I was never sure if the sentences were grammatically correct or understandable. Now that my main narrative is in the present tense, I can use simple past for my flashbacks (she had to do this / she wanted to do that) and the flow of the writing is improved.

It could be that tomorrow I will change my mind again and abandon the present tense but for the moment I’m just happy to be closing the gap between my current and target word counts.

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