POV: First Person, Present Tense

I just finished reading a book (a fabulous book: Just Between You and Me by Jenny B. Jones) that was written in first person, present tense.  It was interesting to read, and worked well for this contemporary novel.

About 8 years ago, when all I knew about was First/Third Person, Past Tense, I decided to challenge myself.  I wondered how much I could physically describe about a character who was alone and in the dark.  No one else to provide description or interact with, no mirrors, nothing but the dark.  I chose a knight in a dungeon.  Just to make it harder on myself, I wrote it in first person present tense.

I was surprised to find that I liked it!  Of course the story isn’t finished.  My poor knight–mercenary soldier, actually–has been rotting in that dungeon for nearly a decade!  But it’s one of the UFOs I’ll be working on in the next while.

Do you like present tense?  What is your favourite POV to read and/or write?

Joanna Clark Dawyd


6 thoughts on “POV: First Person, Present Tense

  1. I love third-person limited–past tense. Guess I’m just traditional. I have read first-person present. My book was Sandwiched (can’t remember the author, just a light-green cover and an ice cream cone on it from Harlequin’s now defunct ‘NEXT’ line). Took some getting used to, but it was okay. Haven’t read second person yet, but I suppose I’d adjust. Hope your knight is okay.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. When I first encountered present tense, I found it strange. I thought it was a passing fad. Now, I find myself writing in present tense without realizing it – which sometimes means that I have to check a whole story to make sure that my tenses are consistent, because I switch between past and present. I’m seeing more present tense stories now, though none jump out at me as I’m thinking about it… I do like the “immediate” feeling that present tense presents, though (from my writing classes) it doesn’t work in every story. Like anything else, the tense and POV must be organic to the story, not forced upon it. 🙂

    1. Now that I think of it, Tiger Lillie, by Lisa Samson is written in first person, present tense(?) for one character’s POV, and third person, past tense for the other character. If I remember correctly. I liked that book too.

  3. I like both past and present tense but prefer third person. First person has to be done really well to be effective, and I find that often stories read better in third …

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