Hello, Wednesday! We’re halfway through the week — you can make it!
Today I’ve decided to talk about tenses.
There are two tenses that writers can choose to write their novel in: past or present.
When the seed of a story embeds itself in my mind, one of the first questions I have to ask myself is (apart from whose point of view it’s going to be in, and third or first) is generally what tense I’ll write it in. Most of the novels I’ve written have been in past tense; there’s only one novel that I chose to write in present tense, and that was my Young Adult Dystopia novel. (This was in my I-love-The-Hunger-Games-and-I-want-to-be-exactly-like-Suzanne-Collins stage. When I finished the first draft I realized that I should just not be a sci fi writer. I suck at it.)
But, uh, that’s slightly off topic.
I’ve been thinking about the next novel I’m going to write — which is probably going to be during NaNoWriMo in November. (If you wanna know more about it you can check out the two main characters here and here.)
And thus, I came to the terrifying conclusion that it’s probably going to be written in present tense.
So why am I so worried about writing it in present tense? The answer is pretty simple: I haven’t done it very often.
I’ve only done it once before — and I’m worried that because my Dystopia novel was such a failure . . . that this NaNo ’14 will fail, too. Yes, I judge myself very harshly, okay?? Though I’m not going to not do it because I’m afraid that it’s going to turn our crappy. Because, realistically, it is going to be crappy. What first draft isn’t? Let alone a first draft written in one month?
I suppose your wondering why I’ve chosen that the novel should be written in present rather than past. I thought about that a lot when I was writing this blog post, and I came to the conclusion that I wanted it to be the sort of novel that’s going to be in the moment. Spontaneous, almost. I feel like present tense would help to portray (God, whenever I write that word I feel like I’m doing English homework…) that sort of mood throughout the novel.
In a way, too, I want to write in present tense so I can prove to myself that I can do it. One failure of a novel doesn’t mean anything. Writers grow and learn and lean on their strengths. But as a writer I don’t want to be stuck in a rut: stuck to writing the same tense over and over again because it’s something I’m comfortable with. Something that makes me feel familiar and safe.
Sometimes writing about what you’re not comfortable with ends up becoming the thing you most love.
Or at least — that’s what I keep telling myself.