Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Matter of Tense

I've been experiencing an odd phenomenon. Characters are talking to me in first person and (get this) present tense. Think about that. First person. Okay, not so very strange. But present tense? Who does that? I have noticed it's a trend in YA literature, and indeed the 13-year-old girl in my brain told me her story that way. (Note to self, start shopping that manuscript.) But those are stories told from the POV of teens, and there's a large enough part of me that still remembers middle and high schools (gods help me) that this makes sense to me. Show me a teen who isn't living in the moment, and I'll show you a teen who has deeper issues than getting their homework done or whether or not to go to the dance. But adults? That's a different animal all together. Of course that's how we experience life, but fictional characters don't have to. They can have the luxury of having their end, or their destination, or what have you be a known quantity from the beginning. In fact, a lot of times that's preferable from the writer's point of view. This whole present tense thing has got me utterly puzzled.

On the other hand, at least one of the voices in my head is finally talking and making sense, so I guess I should be glad for small favours, right? Let's hope he gets chatty today at the coffee shop because I have two hours to fill there and it'll be awfully lonely if he clams up on me.

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