Present tense first personMarch 17, 2010
First off, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Hope you get your fill of green beer today.
Next, manuscript update: I’m midway in chapter 8 or 30 chapters. So far, this polish is pretty much what I suspected, which is good. I’ve caught a few bad word choices and a few typos, but nothing major that I can see. Fingers crossed for the rest.
Browsing through my Google Reader this morning, I came across Deb Markanton’s What Are You Reading post, and although I commented on her blog, I thought I’d put more on here.
I’m an avid Suzanne Collins fan, since her Overlander series. When I finished that, I read Hunger Games and was hooked from the first few pages … much like everyone else who read it. 🙂
But as much as I was hooked, I think I enjoyed reading the Overlander series more because of the third-person point of view.
In Hunger Games, and now Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins uses present tense first person, and it seems awkward to me, makes me feel uncomfortable. I feel much more at ease reading something in third person.
Why is that? Is it the immediacy of the present tense? I think it’s because it’s not how we would tell stories to each other. We wouldn’t say, “I go to the meeting and fix all the problems.” We’d say, “I went to the meeting and fixed all the problems.” That seems so much more comfortable to me. Present tense seems unnatural, forced.
And yet, I can’t stop reading.
It’s also the story, the characters and the way Suzanne Collins sneaks up the cliffhangers so wonderfully. But maybe, despite my uncomfortable feeling with present tense, maybe it’s also the tense choice. I’m really curious to know if I’d be as interested in this story if it was in past tense or third person.
What do you think? Can present tense pull a reader into a story more? Can character and story do it just as well? Maybe it depends on the story, depends on the characters. Ultimately, I guess it’s the whole package that makes a book great, but what is it that makes us choose a different tense?
What do you think?