Welcome to the Historical Fiction Online forums: a friendly place to discuss, review and discover historical fiction.
If this is your first visit, please be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above.
You will have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed.
To start viewing posts, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

Present Tense Novels

A place to debate issues or to rant about what's on your mind. In addition to discussions about historical fiction, books, the publishing industry, and history, discussions about current political, social, and religious issues and other topics are allowed, so those who are easily offended by certain topics may want to avoid such threads. Members are expected to keep the discussions friendly and polite and to avoid personal attacks on other members. The moderators reserve the right to shut down a thread without warning if they believe it necessary.
User avatar
Michy
Bibliophile
Location: California

Postby Michy » Wed September 15th, 2010, 8:09 pm

"keny from prague" wrote:and there is no future tense in English.


e.g "I was walking" (past progressive) vs "I am walking" (present progressive) or "I had walked..." (past perfect) vs "I have walked..." (present perfect).



So, what would you call "I will walk?" :confused:

User avatar
Miss Moppet
Bibliophile
Location: North London
Contact:

Postby Miss Moppet » Wed September 15th, 2010, 8:12 pm

"keny from prague" wrote: the only books ive read which were written in present were the old 2nd person "choose your own adventure" style books. In those the reader pretended to be a character and was able to make choices about where the story would lead. in those cases, telling the story in present tense made sense. "You walk down the corridor when suddenly you see a monster."


I remember those. We used to call them the 'Choose Your Own Horrible Death' books.

User avatar
Kveto from Prague
Compulsive Reader
Location: Prague, Bohemia

Postby Kveto from Prague » Wed September 15th, 2010, 8:17 pm

"Michy" wrote:So, what would you call "I will walk?" :confused:


I would call it a modal verb. That is not a TENSE. you have not modified the verb in any way. eg. "I walk" present and "I walked" past, no modification of the verb "walk" in the sentence "I will walk"

I said english has no future TENSE. English does have a variety of ways of expressing the future. We just use other means (modal verbs, "going to", present continuous for future, etc.

I didnt say english has no future, it has no future TENSE.

Trust me :-)

heres the academic reply:In Germanic languages, including English, the usual expression of the future is using the present tense, with the futurity expressed using words that imply future action ("'I go' or 'I am going' to Berlin tomorrow."). There is no simple future tense as such.


English has two true tenses, past and present (sometimes analysed as non-past). These are distinguished by the inflection of the verb, either ablaut or a suffix -ed (walks ~ walked, sings ~ sang). What is commonly called the future tense in English is not a true tense, but a modal construction that does not always appear (it is optional in subordinate constructions such as I hope you (will) go tomorrow, and is prohibited with other modals as in I can go tomorrow, but past tense cannot be similarly omitted: *I hope you go yesterday, *I can go yesterday).


This reality, that expression of futurity in English is a function of the present tense, is born out by the ability to negate the implication of futurity without making any change to the auxiliary construction. When a verbal construction that suggests futurity (such as "I shall go") is subsequently followed by information that establishes a condition or presupposition, or the active verb stem itself contradicts a future indicative application of the construction, then any sense of future tense is negated - especially when the auxiliary will is used within its literal meaning, which is to voluntarily 'will' an action.
Last edited by Kveto from Prague on Wed September 15th, 2010, 8:25 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Reason: add info

User avatar
Michy
Bibliophile
Location: California

Postby Michy » Wed September 15th, 2010, 9:04 pm

"keny from prague" wrote:I didnt say english has no future, it has no future TENSE.

Trust me :-)



I do trust you. When I was learning Spanish and French I paid attention to all the verb tenses, but in English I don't pay too much attention to all that stuff; I just speak/write it. :) I do use correct grammar, though. :D

User avatar
Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Thu September 16th, 2010, 3:50 am

Present tense narrative just feels more awkward to me than past tense. If someone is telling a story, it's naturally going to be about things that happened before the person started telling the story. Who narrates a story while it's actually happening? Are we supposed to visualize Anne Boleyn talking into a tape recorder while Henry VIII is trying to bed her?

That said, the fashion for present tense narrative has become so strong that, by now, I have read so much of it that I don't particularly notice it any more. The most important thing is the story - if a story is really good, the tense doesn't matter that much. And any novel is artificial by its very nature, so the artificiality introduced by the present tense is fairly minimal by contrast.

I wonder if the value of present tense is less in its direct effect on readers than in its psychological effect on writers. One writer in a critique group I worked with suddenly was able to write more vividly, with more detail and immediacy when he started writing in present tense. It seemed as though using present tense forced him to visualize his scenes with more detail and depth.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

User avatar
LoveHistory
Bibliomaniac
Location: Wisconsin, USA
Contact:

Postby LoveHistory » Thu September 16th, 2010, 12:52 pm

Keny, a question about some lyrics. Based on what you've posted (and ignoring the blatant double negative in the following lines) would these lyrics be incorrect?:

"might be a twisted way of sayin' I ain't ridin' no fence
but I've been thinkin' 'bout you baby, in a future tense."



edited to add: I did not write this song.

User avatar
Ludmilla
Bibliophile
Location: Georgia USA

Postby Ludmilla » Thu September 16th, 2010, 1:14 pm

"Margaret" wrote:I wonder if the value of present tense is less in its direct effect on readers than in its psychological effect on writers. One writer in a critique group I worked with suddenly was able to write more vividly, with more detail and immediacy when he started writing in present tense. It seemed as though using present tense forced him to visualize his scenes with more detail and depth.



I often think the psychological effect is why so many writers use it. Even in novels written predominantly in past tense, you'll find present tense often used for flashbacks or some kind of traumatic episode.

This reminds me of a book I read a year or two ago. It had a modern day thread written in past tense and a historical thread written in present tense. Conventional logic might indicate that's backwards. I remember doing a double-take when I first started reading it, but after I settled in, it began to make sense to me and I was surprised not to be bothered by it. I'm sure there were readers who didn't like it, though.

User avatar
Kveto from Prague
Compulsive Reader
Location: Prague, Bohemia

Postby Kveto from Prague » Thu September 16th, 2010, 6:44 pm

"Michy" wrote:I do trust you. When I was learning Spanish and French I paid attention to all the verb tenses, but in English I don't pay too much attention to all that stuff; I just speak/write it. :) I do use correct grammar, though. :D


sure, thats only natural. theres really no reason to study the grammatical terminology of a language unless you are learning the language or its part of your job (in my case). theres no reason for a native speaker to be concerned with the terminology.

I just thought it a bit funny that the guy in the article was complaining about not using the full range of tenses when he doesnt seem to know what a tense is. (To be fair, we often refer to aspects as tenses for conveniece sake.) I just thought it was funny that he was being a literary/grammar snob yet making a basic mistake. (He also used the term "imperfect" which is represented by a variety of constructions in English)

just FYI, the construction you used, will+base verb, is often refered to as "future simple" (quotes are important there) for convenience.

sorry for any hijacking of this thread :-)

User avatar
Kveto from Prague
Compulsive Reader
Location: Prague, Bohemia

Postby Kveto from Prague » Thu September 16th, 2010, 6:54 pm

"LoveHistory" wrote:Keny, a question about some lyrics. Based on what you've posted (and ignoring the blatant double negative in the following lines) would these lyrics be incorrect?:

"might be a twisted way of sayin' I ain't ridin' no fence
but I've been thinkin' 'bout you baby, in a future tense."



edited to add: I did not write this song.


I think most songs use bad grammar cause bad grammar is cool. "I can't get no satisfaction." Just doesnt sound cool if you say "I cant get any satisfaction."

In the second line the tense and aspect are present perfect continuous. have=present, been thinking=perfect+continuous. they arent the future time or "tense". I guess you could add a modal "will" if you wanted to make it future time. e.g. "I will have been thinking about you." but that just sounds awkward and uncool. i think the writer just liked the rhyme there. :-)

User avatar
Kveto from Prague
Compulsive Reader
Location: Prague, Bohemia

Postby Kveto from Prague » Thu September 16th, 2010, 6:57 pm

"Miss Moppet" wrote:I remember those. We used to call them the 'Choose Your Own Horrible Death' books.


very true. but i used to devour those as a young lad. its probably a guy thing, but there was something incredably satisfying about feeling like you had some control or influence over the events of the story. interactive reading. teachers hated the books but i loved them. and id read every possible ending.


Return to “Debate/Rant Forum”