Try and explain the rules for when to use past tense and you’ll find that those rules are a difficult to formulate or articulate.
The weird thing is that apparently, using present tense is something that new writers gravitate towards. Kind of like how new composers and musicians gravitating towards modes and chord progressions.
If we expect novels to mimic nothing more than casual conversation, we lose a whole depth of creativity. While us readers lose sense making tools.
I believe new writers are gravitated towards present tense mainly because their cultural world is in present tense. I bet they are exposed to twitts, blogs, films, TV, etc much more than to novels.
So I believe they adopt the style of these media, because of naturalization via immersion. Even in the article, most answers of writers to why present tense, are 'it just happened' and then rationalized.
For me, it is another proof of the "medium is the message" theory. I believe we are losing thought technology.
Prescribing that novels should only be written in a particular manner.
We should really recognize that individuals have valid feelings and thoughts for whatever they gravitate towards.
So, present tense, let’s do it I’m interested! However, we won’t lose the past tense.
I said, ‘A line will take us hours maybe;
Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought,
Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.
I believe there are exceptions, but in general writing should feel like casual conversation. The author can do all kinds of tricks while making it feel like casual conversation, but if they deviate from the feel of spontaneity, they should have good reasons to do so.
And casual conversation often retells anecdotes in the present tense even when explicitly over a past of time 'so eventually they stop, and I think to myself' because it's sounds more dynamic. Which is probably part of its appeal to new writers. That and it being common in writing that is popular or esteemed now, and absent from old literature of the nineteenth century, much like repetitive chord progressions with modal harmony and the odd chromatic passing tone on top...
Maybe in 100 years time writing in the future tense will be commonplace and microtonality will be the starting point for new composers.
(The reason why I like third-person past tense is that I like to imagine that I as a reader am not just reading the book for myself, but reciting the book to someone else as a form of active storytelling. I don't find the "invisible future narrator" to be a problem because to me, that's me! But maybe that's just, er, me.)
Reading is far too high-level an interpretation to be affected by tenses except where the tense is part of the story.
When I read I don't see words, it's much more like a cinema playing in my head, and I'm watching. It's a process of filtering (discarding), synthesising and reconstructing. You might as well play with font size or typeface - it won't make a whit of difference to me in the end because it's low level stuff that gets discarded.
Would be interested to see the site if you're happy to share though.
Nothing short of feedback is going to fix problems like this, in my experience. There are grammar analysis tools but they are only so good.
I guess the theory is it makes it more dynamic, now-ish. In fact it just seems a trivial affectation that ultimately adds nothing.
One such novel is Halting State by Charles Stross , which appropriately enough includes a cyber crime that takes place in a MMORPG setting.
At the least, the title suggests that this parallel was in the author's head. "Make it now" is a riff on Ezra Pound's maxim "make it new".
Are you saying that "I walk" and "I walked" are the same? How about "I'm walking" vs "I've walked"?
> Tenseless languages can and do refer to time, but they do so using lexical items such as adverbs or verbs, or by using combinations of aspect, and mood, and words that establish time reference
Now I write this way almost exclusively for all my books.
I can think of a handful of exceptions where the whole story itself is narrated from the perspective of someone telling a story, but those are notable exceptions for having a weird narrative gimmick (e.g. the excellent but dated Icehenge is written in the past tense because it consists of personal diary entries).
Good storytelling just pulls you in. Our brain fills in the rest.
Use present tense in email.
Crisp as a haiku.
(Pedantic note: of course neither of these is actually a haiku, which means more than just 5-7-5 syllable count. I did manage a kinda-sorta-kireji, though.)