Writing Stories in Present Tense, Past Tense or Both

"Without a doubt, deciding which tense to use in writing one’s novel is an important decision for any author. Readers, however, often don’t especially notice it."  Laura Miller


You write novels in past tense. That seemed to be an unwritten rule. At least when I started writing. Don’t think that’s the case anymore.

Wow, I feel old. I've been writing for like 20 years.

Currently, I’m reading a book written in the present tense and it got me thinking. For a while now, I've been hearing more and more about authors who write in present tense. I write in past tense out of habit. Nothing against present tense. I simply didn't learn to write novels that way. Not going to say I’ll never write in present tense. I thought I wouldn’t use fantasy staples like dragons and shifters. Then, I found out how much fun they are, especially when combined.


Of course, I had to research this topic. People often feel strongly one way or the other about traditions. Mostly, I found articles outlining the advantages and disadvantages of each tense. People, generally, said present tense gives a sense of immediacy.

The Pros and Cons of Writing a Novel in Present Tense
Writing: Past or Present Tense?

There was a battle in 2010. Not surprising. 

The fierce fight over the present tense

During my research, I discovered something interesting. Some authors don't think you need to choose one or the other. If you're writing present tense, any kind of flashback would be in past tense. Makes sense. A few authors might shift between past and present tense from scene to scene, depending on the POV character. 

Can I change between the use of past tense to present tense for the story being told by a character in first person?
Mixing Past and Present Tense

That sounds jarring. Don't think I'll do something like that. Writing is already a lot of work. Shifting from past to present tense seamlessly seems extra hard.

Have you read any stories that shifted between past and present tense?



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