Thursday, July 5, 2012

Doubting Myself

I have a feeling there will be a lot of angsty posts while I'm drafting this book. And I apologize for it in advance. But this blog is supposed to be a chronicle of my journey.

This latest road bump?

I'm doubting something hugely fundamental in the structure of this story.

I'm second-guessing myself on both point-of-view and tense.

I'll give you time to pick your jaw up from the floor.

I've blogged about tense and point of view before.

With HotG (Hammer of the Gods, I changed the abbreviation slightly), I initially started it in third person past tense. One paragraph in I changed it to first person.

5K words in?

I've decided to change it all over to present tense.

Again, I'll give you time for collecting whatever may have been flung in disbelief.

I really feel like there's an immediacy in the present tense which is absent in past. An immediacy which this book may really need in order to be successful.

But then I find I'm doubting that. I am torn between continuing in present tense or reverting to the past tense. I will retain the first person narrative. In light of the doubts I've come to a decision.

For now I'm going to go ahead and forge on with writing it in present tense, if for no other reason than the challenge.

It's good to challenge ourselves once in a while. If I can complete this book the way I've now set about writing it, I'll have proved something to myself. I'll have proved to myself I can write differently. I can write a male MC in first person present tense. I can write an action-adventure novel. I can write first person. I can write present tense.

If we don't challenge ourselves we'll never learn our bounds and figure out how to break them, right?

So here's to experimentation!


  1. In my humble opinion *coughsputtergasp* present tense is the only way to write in 1st person. At storymakers I took Clint Johnson's class on POV and he essentially said the same thing. I've read a few 1st person past tense books (The Hourlgass Door, Clockwise, and Hourglass) and I had a hard time reading them becasue my mind kept changing everything to present tense. Again, purely my opinion, but I think 1st person is stronger in present tense :)

    1. LOL. See, now I'm going to have to go read through my Storymakers notes again. I went to that workshop and it seriously made me start doubting so much in my writing. Also, I need to go do a survey of my books and see which are written in first person past and which are in first person present...hmmm...

      Thanks for coming by!

  2. Wow! I have only done present tense in short stories, and I find it extremely difficult to maintain. But I say do what excites you the most and give it your best shot! My most recent novel is in 1st person past tense, and I never thought it would work, but it does. But don't worry about pleasing everyone else. First and foremost, do what works for you.

    1. I've never done present tense before so it's definitely an interesting challenge. I'm not certain I'll keep the book in present tense, but that's a decision I'll make after I've written the entire first draft. I'm not worried about pleasing other people, I'm just doubting my decisions on this novel. But that's what drafts are for, right?

  3. First person is definitly my favourite, and it works well for a YA novels since it allows readers to see the character's inner thoughts more clearly. Of course, you can do the same thing with third person, but I dunno, I guess I just find it smoother with first.

    Like Michelle, I've only ever written short stories in present tense. It's not that it's hard to maintain, because after a while, one gets used to writing in a certain tense. It depends on the story to me. For example, I like how The Hunger Games is present-tense because it takes place in the future, but I also like past-tense because that's basically traditional story telling.

    As a somewhat general rule, I use present-tense for YA commercial fiction and past-tense for MG commercial fiction and literary fiction. This is because with present tense, the readers feels less secure about the characters making it out alive and the action can be more intense. Well, in my opinion :P You can achieve the same thing with past tense, so I guess in the end, it's a personal choice :)

    (well, it always has been to begin with, but whatever :P)


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