Discussion: Present Tense VS. Past Tense in Books

OK, so I didn’t really know that books could be written in present tense until I stumbled upon Sophie Kinsella’s Remember Me. It was very disconcerting and I guess that’s why for me, it was constantly an issue when a book is written in present tense. I don’t know why, but it was just mentally jarring and something very new and outside of my comfort zone.

Books using past tense are very easy to relate to, in my experience, and I just grew up with them, so I guess I didn’t really know that any other kind of book existed. But then I came across Divergent, by Veronica Roth, the trilogy that the entire world has been raving about, and I was SO WARY going into it, because it’s written in present tense and that was something I was very uncomfortable with, but when I did start the book, I honestly couldn’t back down.

The fact that it was written in present tense completely flew over my head, and I just immersed myself into the novel and the characters and the FEELINGS. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that its really up to your personal tastes – mine evolved over the years and currently I have no qualms reading in present tense – in fact, I’ve even started to prefer present tense over past.

What do you think? Which writing style appeals to you most, and which tense do you think is more likely to gain readers?

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About Butterfly_Maddy

My passport tells everyone my name is Madiha, but anyone who's ever spoken to me has called me Maddy. I'm a high school junior who will do anything to get my hands on the latest book written by Laini Taylor and maybe a Snickers bar. I adore Young Adult Literature and consider myself a YA enthusiast going borderline obsessive. For me, the best smell in the world is the smell of new books, though the smell of chocolate would suffice. When I'm not plotting on which protagonist to kill next for having an amazing an amazing boyfriend, you can find me trying to learn the basics of web designing or maybe book and chocolate shopping, because for me, there is nothing better in the entire world than to be curled up eating chocolate while reading your favorite book. Symphony of Words ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads ~ BlogLovin'

8 thoughts on “Discussion: Present Tense VS. Past Tense in Books

  1. Livia

    I’m a definite supporter of past tense narratives, abso-freaking-lutely 😀 I think the tense of the narrative was one of the reason I only read Divergent from the series, not the rest of it, or why I didn’t really enjoy The Mask of The Red Death as much as I might have otherwise, or why Killing Sarai was a good read, but it didn’t blow my socks off. But then again, maybe they wouldn’t have been 5 stars reading experiences even in past tense narrative mode, that’s something we’ll never find out, lol.

    Because I’m reading a novel now, for instance. Aias Hook by Linda Jensen, and it has some present narrative as well as some past tense narrative, like to ends of a full story coming coming together to meet at the middle sort of deal, and I tend to hate 2 timelines in a book, dislike present tense by large because it pulls me out of the story for sure, and yet I’m loving the hell out of this novel.

    So pet peeves in reading can very well ruin a reading experience, and yet at times something about that novel will seduce you so completely that you won’t even care about a collection of your regular reading pet peeves being part of the whole shebang.

  2. Laurel-Rain Snow

    Like Kimba, I enjoy either present or past tense, and some of my favorite authors use present tense. There is an immediacy to the emotions when in present tense.

    It does take getting used to, however. Good post!

  3. Pingback: ChapterBreak.net Sharing the Bookish Love – July 18, 2014 | Chapter Break .net

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