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21 October 2010 @ 12:19 am
Quick poll  
Poll #1633332 Writing tips for the knackered

Writing in the present tense is ...

perfectly valid.
often suspect.
probably a sign you're simultaneously lazy and overwrought.
immediate and fresh.
more suited to a modern American voice, like Updike's.
the sort of thing you (er, me) can only carry off in action sequences and let's not forget the difficulty of sustaining that sort of thing and the unfinished fics that result.
far better than not writing.
In other news, HAPPY BIRTHDAY samena  and eanelinea77 ! May your days be excellent and filled with visits from the gift fairies and cake pixies!

And if anyone else out there is out of their tiny little minds with overwork: Agatha Christie, complex geometry, red lip gloss and slightly complicated knitting are all decent stopgaps until your brain has time to recover. One week, and I will be off having an adventure with no one expecting me to rescue anyone else's demented prose! If I am tremendously dilligent, I can even get a good lot of writing done and be a step closer to never editing again.

Well, never editing anything not written by friends or interesting fandom people, at any rate ...
Eanelineaeanelinea77 on October 20th, 2010 01:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you, hon!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on October 20th, 2010 03:14 pm (UTC)
You don't look a day over 27!
(no subject) - eanelinea77 on October 20th, 2010 11:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
girl; obsessed: * pink kneescomplications_g on October 20th, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC)
I feel conflicted because I really don't like present tense in fic, but if it's what you're comfortable and happy with, then you should totally do it. Is it for fic? Or something else? I find it far easier to read in non-fic situations, for some reason. Though, some people really don't care or notice much.

Edited at 2010-10-20 01:37 pm (UTC)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on October 20th, 2010 03:15 pm (UTC)
For fic. And I tend not to like present-tense, though the whole Sins and Fathers sequence is in it for reasons that made sense at the time I started them. It's one of those things that is enormously easy to do for a bit, and then tends to fall apart in my hands. John Updike's are FAR more capable!
rosathome on October 20th, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC)
I rarely enjoy reading books written in present tense and I can think of very few indeed where the present tense has actually enhanced my experience of a book. It draws attention to itself in a way that past tense narrative, because it is so much more common, does not.

But far better write in present tense than not at all.
rosathome on October 20th, 2010 01:36 pm (UTC)
Also, I remember once reading a fic written in future tense which worked surprisingly well. It had a nice sort of day-dreamlike quality. But I think that would be extremely hard to pull off in a longer story.
(no subject) - blamebrampton on October 20th, 2010 03:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on October 20th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rosathome on October 20th, 2010 03:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
FEELS TERRORIST!: A:TLA Zuko Bzuhmomebie on October 20th, 2010 01:39 pm (UTC)
Present tense throws me off sometimes, but I get used to it soon enough. I fave difficulty writing it and sustaining it, but some stories just call for it, you know?
blamebramptonblamebrampton on October 20th, 2010 03:19 pm (UTC)
That is quite true. Alas, I cannot tell if this story is calling for it, or if I just think it will be a handy measure to help me write it quickly (ie, sheer mental laziness!)
(no subject) - azurelunatic on October 20th, 2010 07:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Vaysh Swiftstormvaysh on October 20th, 2010 01:46 pm (UTC)
Great poll! :) My take on present tense is that you need a very good reason for using it in a long fic. And I don't mean some stylistic-experiment reason, but a reason that has to do with plot and characterisation.

My fave example for a long fanfic written in present tense that works is "Things That Change": even though the plot covers more than two decades, the focus is on intimate things like sex and the physical changes due to pregnancy, birth and illness. The present tense works here to sustain an intimacy and immediacy that I doubt would have come across quite as intensely if written in past tense.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on October 20th, 2010 03:21 pm (UTC)
Very true! I used it in Sins because it was from the POV of a five-year old at the start: I think I have had trouble finishing Fathers because it is not as natural coming from a fortysomething (which also explains the large number of explosions in that fic).

I think the basic problem is that my brain is broken, but deadlines are not!
Sarah: Nice Hair, Clever, Has Her Own Gun: Whore Todaythenotoriousso4 on October 20th, 2010 01:54 pm (UTC)
I loathe stories written in present tense!

Though, to be fair, I'm sure it's a valid form of writing with a decent amount of people who love it, but it just takes me out of the story.

Lol, and if you're like me, Agatha Christie, cracked.com, and not so complicated cross-stitch leads to hours and hours of work not getting done. Which, er, is not good when you're sitting at your desk at work.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on October 20th, 2010 03:24 pm (UTC)
I always think I loathe it, but there have been several fics and more novels that I have really quite enjoyed, and in a number of those cases not even noticed the tense until afterwards.

Sadly, I think I loathe it because more often the faults of the form are obvious, as you say.

And we are alike in our hobbies, but not the timing: work has been a constant boil of rescuing other people from disaster of late, and long hours spent doing so, with the result that when I come home I can only manage Miss Marple, M. Poirot, and DPNs. Oh, and a walk, the cats and Mr B, with the odd baked pudding, but that is really it!
(no subject) - thenotoriousso4 on October 20th, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Potteresque Irepotteresque_ire on October 20th, 2010 02:43 pm (UTC)
Oooh oooh oooh may I add another choice "Not something I'd notice?" :DDD

blamebramptonblamebrampton on October 20th, 2010 03:24 pm (UTC)
That is because you are generous and supportive. But two of the many reasons I love you wildly.
Hollyhollyxu on October 20th, 2010 02:47 pm (UTC)
Present tense is up there with 2nd person POV in the range of DNW, which is to say, unacceptable unless done well.

So you really have nothing to worry about. :D
blamebramptonblamebrampton on October 20th, 2010 03:13 pm (UTC)
You are enormously encouraging. And were it not for the vast majority of a recalcitrant fic to be written by the end of the weekend at the same time as work being bananas, I would be enormously encouraged!

As things stand, I am considering a career reviewing lip glosses: at least I am certain of my ground there ;-)
jacked up on cheap champagnemizbean on October 20th, 2010 03:41 pm (UTC)
I just finished a novel that was written partially in first person, present tense. That struck me as unusual in the beginning, but once I got into the meat of the story it was not at all cumbersome or bothersome. In fact, it really just faded into the background and seemed entirely appropriate a stylistic choice once I finished the book -- the protagonist was a 15-year-old boy and there were duel narratives (the other in plain old third person, past tense). So I'm going to side with it being perfectly valid, but the skill of the writer needs to make it work.
This Girl: Stroke Itthisgirl_is on October 20th, 2010 03:41 pm (UTC)
Present tense can go horribly wrong, but I completely trust you to pull it off.

I wouldn't say it was (and therefore didn't tick) 'better suited to modern American voices' option, because I don't think it's to do with the writer per se. But of the three fandoms I play in (HP, Torchwood/Who and White Collar), I have noticed it working well most often in White Collar (which is modern and American), than the others which are British.

Also, I read Wemyss' Fan Fair fic today, so my periods may be becoming somewhat over-involved. Could be worse, though. I've also been watching Outrageous Fortune, so I could have said 'fuck' a lot.
libby_drew on October 20th, 2010 05:53 pm (UTC)
I'd like to add a few exclamation points after 'far better than not writing.' And then poke you with my virtual pen.
John Carterbrumeux77 on October 20th, 2010 06:00 pm (UTC)
I got called away before I could amend my poll with a comment. As a reader, I sometimes feel present tense distracting, though not always. As a writer I find it difficult and therefore useful for training my craftsmanship. But training I really don't need to go through often.
down the hills and round the bendsnorton_gale on October 20th, 2010 06:35 pm (UTC)
Present tense is generally hard to pull off, but I have read a number of stories where the author has made it work. I am sure there are novels where it works too, but I cannot recall any of them. In unskilled hands it can come off as pretentious and distracting.
Rosefourth_rose on October 20th, 2010 07:02 pm (UTC)
I really don't see what the big problem with present tense is. It's a stylistic choice, which may or may not work, but that's true for every other stylistic choice as well. It all really depends on the skill of the writer, not on the choice of a specific tense. I've written plenty of fics in present tense and plenty of fics in past tense, and I don't feel that either is "better", I just choose what feels right to me.
some kind of snark faeryshyfoxling on October 20th, 2010 07:07 pm (UTC)
Present tense can get hard to read if it's in really long chunks (thousands and thousands of words), but I don't think there's any reason to avoid it on principle. It's good for more than action sequences, but I don't think everyone quite has the right ear for when else to use it. It definitely is "fresh and immediate", but I didn't check that box because I don't think that's necessarily a virtue in itself; does the scene or story really call for immediacy?

Often misused but I wouldn't go "augh, present tense, get me out of here!" just because.