21 July 2006

Past and present at the present day

Debbie Michiko Florence begins a discussion about the use of present tense in fiction, particularly these days.

Linda Sue Park continues the discussion, with a decided preference for past tense. Such authors as David Lubar join in.

Debbie notes that Sally Keehn writes historical fiction--stories that take place in the past--in present tense. That seems unusual, but no more illogical than futuristic stories taking place in the past or present tense.

Linda Sue wraps up the discussion with another posting. Consensus agrees that changing or contrasting tenses can be more powerful than sticking with one--at least until such changes themselves become overly familiar.

Back in April I make a few comments on this choice in a presentation on narrative voices at the SCBWI New England conference. I choose to distinguish between verb tense and temporal perspective--two different, though overlapping, ways that narrative voices treat time.

I see verb tense as a choice authors can now make according to their individual tastes.

My taste happens to accord with Linda Sue's. Therefore, unless I'm telling a joke, I narrate a story in the past tense.

Of course, I often tell jokes.

No comments: