September 12, 2020

First person present tense

There used to be a time when I would only read stories written in the third person past tense point of view. Most books are written that way, so it wasn't a challenge to indulge my preference. On the occasions when I read a book with a first person point of view, the narration threw me off because I wasn't used to seeing the story take place through the eyes of a single character. It was even stranger to read a story written in present tense because past tense was how I thought stories were "supposed" to be told.

The Hunger Games opened my eyes to the allure of first person present tense. The combination of a gripping story, great writing, and the selected point of view made for, to me, as close to a perfect novel as I've read. It still remains my favorite YA novel of all time. I don't know how effective The Hunger Games would've been if it wasn't written in first person present tense. Suzanne Collins's choice drew me closer to Katniss Everdeen than I had been to any other character I can think of, and telling the story in present tense made the action come alive in a way that I don't believe past tense could have.

Since The Hunger Games, I've read a lot more books that use the first person present tense. I don't know if it's become a more popular choice among authors or if I'm gravitating toward books written that way. I'm embracing writing in first person present tense as well. The short stories in my Driver series were my first published works using that point of view, and they were fun to write. While I've written more stories since then in other points of view (primarily third person past tense and first person past tense), I'm working on a new project that's best suited for first person present tense. After abandoning my last manuscript (written in third person past tense), this one has been more fun to write, and I attribute some of that to the point of view.

Do you have a preferred point of view in the stories that you read or write? Are there any that you dislike?


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