Why, hello, unseasonably chilly Friday in May! No, I'm not going to let you affect my mood, thank you.
(Seriously. It's way spring now. Right?)
So I want to talk about first person present.
While this tense has existed as long as the English language, it's a relatively new "thing" in literature. I first encountered it in Hunger Games, and it was a bit of an oh-well-huh-how-about-that moment for me. I've spent most of my reading life in third person past, to the point where I didn't even want to read anything in first person (past). Somehow, it didn't feel like it was as much of a story to me. Or something.
Now? I adore Hunger Games, and I adore other things that are written in first person present, too (like Rae Carson's Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, which I adore to the moon and back). And, lo and behold, I've written some novels in first person present. In fact, I recently converted a novel from third past to first present. And I like the added edginess.
I've been hearing (from industry folks who know) that first person present is not dearly beloved by all--and that, in fact, some editors will be completely turned off if they crack open a manuscript written in this tense.
So here I am, in the midst of the WIP-from-hell--and it's written in (you guessed it) first person present. I didn't sit down and say, "Okay, Authoress*, I think it would be a smart marketing move to write this next story in first person present." Honestly--and I'm sure this is true for many of you as well--I simply begin writing in whatever person and tense feels right in the moment. It just...happens.
Of course, it wouldn't have happened had I never encountered it before. Because there's something a bit less than natural about it. When we think of a grizzled storyteller sitting by the hearth on a winter's night, we don't imagine him beginning, "The cottage sits in a quiet thicket, and I peer out the window as the sun rises..." What we really expect to hear is, "A long time ago, in a quiet thicket, a cottage sat hidden from view..."
And apparently, some editors out there feel the same way.
Personally, I don't get all attached to a tense. Once the WIP-from-hell is actually a finished draft (BULLETIN! I THINK I'VE GOT ABOUT FIVE CHAPTERS TO GO!), I'm probably going to convert it to either first or third person past.
Yeah, that'll be fun.
Anyway, I don't feel strongly one way or the other--I'm simply responding to rumblings I'm hearing from the powers-that-be. Ultimately, if someone loves my story and wants it in a different tense, I'm totally okay with that. I won't even bat a clichéd eyelash.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you enjoy reading in first person present? Have you written anything in it? I'd love to know how others feel about this tense thing.
Which brings me to my Very Bad Joke, but I have to say it anyway:
Past, Present, and Future walked into a bar. It was tense.
*Okay, I don't actually call myself that. Because, well, it's not my name.