Which Tense are you Writing your New Writing Project in?

This process is not easy and there’s not always an obvious choice particularly if this is your first book.

Present or Past Tense?

First of all, what’s the difference between present and past tense?

Present Tense

In fiction, present tense sets the narration directly into the moment of the events:

As he drives down the street, James notices a strange man behind the bushes near the front door of his home. He pulls his car up and walks quietly to his house for a closer view.

Past Tense

On the other hand, a story in past tense is about events that happened in the past.

As he drove down the street, James noticed a man behind the bushes near the front door of his home. He pulled his car up and walked quietly to his home for a closer view.

Try to decide which tense you are going to use before you start writing. If you decide to change tenses half-way through your novel, you will make it harder for yourself by creating hours and hours of hard work that wasn’t necessary.

Just pick the tense that works the best for your story. Past tense is more classic, more common. Most authors I have read are in past tense, but there a lots who write in present tense as well.

There’s a lot to think about before you get started on your new writing project — the story, the characters, the conflict. How it begins and how it ends.

If you believe the story can exist in either tense, I would go with past tense. When it comes to literary agents and editors, they’ll probably be happier to see past rather than present. Present tense isn’t for everyone, after all, while pretty much everyone is on board with past tense.

But if you want to give present tense a try, by all means, do it! If you’re not sure if you’ll be successful at it, write a short story in present tense and see how it feels.

To grow as a writer you have to take chances and keep learning new things. You’ll want to eventually try both tenses in the long run, but pick the tense that feels right for your project now, and then focus on what you should always be focusing on — telling a great story.

Next Article: What Point of View to Write Your Book in.

Sen Mack – Author