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First person present tense?

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V. R. Lassmann
(@vrlass)
Active Member
Topic starter
 

I am just going through WOTF podcast when I stumbled on: ”never do first person present tense”. I Know its bit out of a context of that conversation, but is it some sort of a bad practice? It’s pretty much the base of what I’d call my style… Am I missing something?

 
Posted : August 26, 2022 5:05 pm
Anna X reacted
Martin L. Shoemaker
(@martin-l-shoemaker)
Platinum Plus Moderator
 

I hate first person present tense. Hate it, hate it, hate it! No one should ever write first person present tense.

You'll never get a Nebula nomination, a Washington Science Fiction Association Small Press Award, four year's best reprints, or an agent deal writing in first person present tense.

You'll never get an average Amazon rating of 4.7 for a book written in first person present tense.

----------------------------------------------------------------

Tools, not rules. No matter who's giving the rules (and I can guess who it was, and I respect him).

Never use first person present tense where it doesn't work. Use it where it works. And the only way to know is to try it.

http://nineandsixtyways.com/
Tools, Not Rules.
Martin L. Shoemaker
3rd Place Q1 V31
"Today I Am Paul", WSFA Small Press Award 2015, Nebula nomination 2015
Today I Am Carey from Baen
The Last Dance (#1 science fiction eBook on Amazon, October 2019) and The Last Campaign from 47North

 
Posted : August 26, 2022 5:25 pm
RETreasure, Anna X, David Hankins and 1 people reacted
Martin L. Shoemaker
(@martin-l-shoemaker)
Platinum Plus Moderator
 

As for the reason for the advice... I'm not a mind reader, so I can't say. But my guess is that after some big hit came out in first person present tense (The Hunger Games, maybe?), editors started seeing a lot of imitators; and those weren't anywhere near as successful. Success always breeds imitators: some because the work awakens something in them, but some because they assume it is "the right way" or "the way to sell".

Editors get tired of trendy. They see too much of it.

http://nineandsixtyways.com/
Tools, Not Rules.
Martin L. Shoemaker
3rd Place Q1 V31
"Today I Am Paul", WSFA Small Press Award 2015, Nebula nomination 2015
Today I Am Carey from Baen
The Last Dance (#1 science fiction eBook on Amazon, October 2019) and The Last Campaign from 47North

 
Posted : August 26, 2022 5:45 pm
RETreasure, Anna X, David Hankins and 2 people reacted
V. R. Lassmann
(@vrlass)
Active Member
Topic starter
 

@martin-l-shoemaker I read your story. It might not be that moving after all this glam, but I liked it.
I noticed something interesting in here.

You wrote this story in a quiet, detached voice with narrator being gentle spectator even more than the actor. And you write in first-present. And you are software developer. 

It’s kinda like I was talking to my older self…

Please don’t tell me you code in C++/Python

 
Posted : August 26, 2022 7:56 pm
Anna X and David Hankins reacted
Martin L. Shoemaker
(@martin-l-shoemaker)
Platinum Plus Moderator
 
Posted by: @vrlass

@martin-l-shoemaker I read your story. It might not be that moving after all this glam, but I liked it.
I noticed something interesting in here.

You wrote this story in a quiet, detached voice with narrator being gentle spectator even more than the actor. And you write in first-present. And you are software developer. 

It’s kinda like I was talking to my older self…

Please don’t tell me you code in C++/Python

I haven't written C++ since the early 2000s. I'm strictly C#.

I never really know the voice until the story tells me. This one was a 50-minute dictation session. The voice and POV all came as I dictated.

The irony is I'm not a fan of first person present tense; but I'm very much a fan of consistency. So since that's how I wrote the short story, that's how I wrote the novel. And the three sequel stories (so far). It's hard for me, but it's the POV for this world.

http://nineandsixtyways.com/
Tools, Not Rules.
Martin L. Shoemaker
3rd Place Q1 V31
"Today I Am Paul", WSFA Small Press Award 2015, Nebula nomination 2015
Today I Am Carey from Baen
The Last Dance (#1 science fiction eBook on Amazon, October 2019) and The Last Campaign from 47North

 
Posted : August 26, 2022 8:02 pm
RETreasure and Anna X reacted
V. R. Lassmann
(@vrlass)
Active Member
Topic starter
 
Posted by: @martin-l-shoemaker
I haven't written C++ since the early 2000s. I'm strictly C#.

Ah… my nemesis then 😀

Yeah i understand. There is something very unnatural when I write in present tense. Mind switches from time to time and I need to fix all the pasts.

Posted by: @martin-l-shoemaker

Success always breeds imitators: some because the work awakens something in them, but some because they assume it is "the right way" or "the way to sell".

IMHO the thing is, the storytelling originated with past tense and third person. People by the campfire telling children stories that HAPPENED to OTHER PEOPLE. Be it a myth, be it parable, be it anything you make, but to quote Gaiman this were the ‘lies used to tell the truth’.

 
Posted : August 26, 2022 8:22 pm
Dustin Adams
(@axeminister)
Gold Star Member
 

I don't like reading 1st in a novel. Love it in short stories. Adore 1pp...

My first finalist before I read 12 seconds - 3rd.

Submissions after: 2nd finalist and both SF - 1pp.

It's how I write short stuff now.

The novel I just finished? 3rd. Wink  

2x Finalist
2x Semi
8x Silver
10x HM
Finalist #2 Read it here!

 
Posted : August 26, 2022 8:51 pm
RETreasure and Anna X reacted
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Gold Star Member
 
Posted by: @martin-l-shoemaker
Posted by: @vrlass

Please don’t tell me you code in C++/Python

I haven't written C++ since the early 2000s. I'm strictly C#.

I miss C#. I loved C#. I'm working in one of the JavaScript frameworks at the moment, which has been a transition.

DQ: 0 / R: 0 / RWC: 0 / HM: 10 / SHM: 6 / SF: 0 / F: 1
In for Q3.V39 and Q4.V39
Last four: HM • HM • SHM • SHM
Revised SHM ('Ashwright') at PodCastle

 
Posted : August 27, 2022 5:31 am
Anna X reacted
Wahlquistj
(@wahlquistj)
Bronze Member
 

First person present tense is a tricky viewpoint to do well. It’s attractive, since suspense and action are built into the form (what am ‘I’ going to do next?!), but it is also easy to slip into repetition and sloppy writing.

It has also been a trendy YA viewpoint, since a number of bestselling YA series have been written in FPPT over the last decade. Like werewolf and vampire stories, there might be too many in the slush pile (although my SF was, weirdly, a werewolf story).

As @martin-l-shoemaker said above, it’s a tool. But it’s more of a pipe cutter rather that a screw driver. Rarely used, but effective when the job calls for it.

V33- SF
V38- SHM, HM
V39- HM,P

 
Posted : August 27, 2022 2:01 pm
Anna X and David Hankins reacted
Wahlquistj
(@wahlquistj)
Bronze Member
 

Also @martin-l-shoemaker that was a wonderful story.

V33- SF
V38- SHM, HM
V39- HM,P

 
Posted : August 27, 2022 2:20 pm
pdblake
(@pdblake)
Silver Star Member
 

I hate first person present too, though there are exceptions (just like the rules).

I code primarily in Delphi (object pascal). Also having JS and react forced upon me at times. 

R:6 HM:6 SHM:2
My Blog

 
Posted : August 27, 2022 9:53 pm
Anna X reacted
JAbecker
(@jabecker)
Advanced Member
 

I can't seem to stop writing in first person present. It's what feels right for me and it's fun so I'm just going with it.

I code in PHP and I've been forced to learn JS. Love plain JavaScript. Sick of the million frameworks out there that supposedly make things easier to do with JS, which are just bloated nightmares of time-suck. I'm old enough to remember the days when JS was just a crazily confusing language you only used to set a counter on your webpage, now it's like running the world. Kind of surprising.

 
Posted : September 17, 2022 12:58 am
DoctorJest reacted
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Gold Star Member
 
Posted by: @jabecker

I'm old enough to remember the days when JS was just a crazily confusing language you only used to set a counter on your webpage, now it's like running the world. Kind of surprising.

Yeah, likewise--and to the wonderful time when a JavaScript error was identified by the single fact that it didn't work, and beyond that, you were on your own--often, looking for a single character typo buried deep in its bones somewhere...

I do love jQuery, though. That was a wonderful thing when it came out.

DQ: 0 / R: 0 / RWC: 0 / HM: 10 / SHM: 6 / SF: 0 / F: 1
In for Q3.V39 and Q4.V39
Last four: HM • HM • SHM • SHM
Revised SHM ('Ashwright') at PodCastle

 
Posted : September 22, 2022 10:23 pm
V. R. Lassmann
(@vrlass)
Active Member
Topic starter
 
Posted by: @doctorjest

Yeah, likewise--and to the wonderful time when a JavaScript error was identified by the single fact that it didn't work, and beyond that, you were on your own--often, looking for a single character typo buried deep in its bones somewhere...

Aw…
It’s not like this anymore?

 
Posted : September 22, 2022 10:44 pm
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Gold Star Member
 
Posted by: @vrlass
Posted by: @doctorjest

Yeah, likewise--and to the wonderful time when a JavaScript error was identified by the single fact that it didn't work, and beyond that, you were on your own--often, looking for a single character typo buried deep in its bones somewhere...

Aw…
It’s not like this anymore?

Indeed not, and I admit, I am glad of this particular change.

DQ: 0 / R: 0 / RWC: 0 / HM: 10 / SHM: 6 / SF: 0 / F: 1
In for Q3.V39 and Q4.V39
Last four: HM • HM • SHM • SHM
Revised SHM ('Ashwright') at PodCastle

 
Posted : September 23, 2022 2:48 am
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