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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.
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Post by Margaret » Thu September 16th, 2010, 8:46 pm

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.
That's a bit intriguing. I wonder if the author might have been thinking of past-life regression, in which the regressed person might well speak in present tense while "watching" the events of the past life unfold.
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Post by Divia » Thu September 16th, 2010, 9:43 pm

I'll be hoenst I cannot recall every reading a present tense novel.
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Post by LoveHistory » Fri September 17th, 2010, 12:38 am

[quote=""keny from prague""]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.[/quote]

Actually I loved those books too. Didn't run across many, and that may have added to their appeal for me.

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Present Tense Novels

Post by RichardWarrenField » Fri September 17th, 2010, 4:58 am

I think it is difficult to write an entire novel in the present-tense and have it not seem awkward. There is a screenplayish element to it - but a screenplay is a set of directions for a bunch of people making a movie. I think sections in the present tense can be very effective as a contrast to the general narrative of a novel. It might be used as a character seizes the narrative voice, taking over in first person present from a third person single viewpoint past tense. But I am not fond of an entire book in the present tense. I feel almost out of breath as I try to absorb the story.

Richard Warren Field
THE SWORDS OF FAITH, a unique novel about the "Third Crusade" (Richard the Lionheart and Saladin) that stresses tolerance between the faiths even during a time of great conflict.
Richard Warren Field's blog: http://creativeeccentric.wordpress.com

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Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
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Post by Vanessa » Fri September 17th, 2010, 8:30 am

I don't think I take too much notice. As long as I'm enjoying the story, it doesn't really matter to me, although I do have a preference for book written in the first person. I feel like they're chatting to me!! :rolleyes: :D
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Fri September 17th, 2010, 8:41 am

I dislike present tense. The only book I ever read written in that tense was Wolf Hall, and like sweetpotatoboy, the pronoun issue was evenmore annoying than the present tense, but I didn't like the book at all. I might not have disliked it so thoroughly if those two issues were removed. But the whole thing smacked of 'cleverness', and any hint of contrivance will put me off.

If the Help was written in present tense, I missed it entirely (odd, because usually if a book is written present tense, I won't even read past the first paragraph.) But I can't go check my copy as it is in California, and right now I'm in France.

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Post by Madeleine » Fri September 17th, 2010, 10:22 am

I must admit I'm not that keen on present tense, although if it's reasonably well-written and a good story then I'm OK with it.

I don't mind first person at all, I agree that it can seem as if the narrator is talking to me personally, although first person means you only tend to get one side of the story.
Currently reading "The Heron's Cry" by Ann Cleeves

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Post by Michy » Fri September 17th, 2010, 2:26 pm

[quote=""Madeleine""] although first person means you only tend to get one side of the story.[/quote]

True, although if an author is really good they can manage to make other characters' feelings come through. I'm thinking of what Daphne du Maurier did with My Cousin Rachel.

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Miss Moppet
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Post by Miss Moppet » Fri September 17th, 2010, 10:35 pm

[quote=""Michy""]True, although if an author is really good they can manage to make other characters' feelings come through. I'm thinking of what Daphne du Maurier did with My Cousin Rachel.[/quote]

Or get some plot mileage out of the central character's misinterpretations, as du Maurier did in Rebecca. She certainly was the queen of first-person.

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Post by Misfit » Fri September 17th, 2010, 11:07 pm

[quote=""Miss Moppet""]Or get some plot mileage out of the central character's misinterpretations, as du Maurier did in Rebecca. She certainly was the queen of first-person.[/quote]

Yes she was, and the male voice at that.
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