Are our storytelling tenses getting too tense? YOU decide!

Have you been reading a lot of books during coronavirus lockdown? I have – my particular favourite genre (not exactly intellectual but provides what I need as a light-hearted break…) crime and psychological crime fiction. Yum, yum.

The current fashion in high-anxiety fiction like this is to tell it in the present tense…presumably to increase the dramatic speed.

Fine for a film or TV synopsis. But a whole, 80,000 words or longer novel?

I suppose this should be OK with me, largely because I spent years working with film and TV synopses in which it’s customary to describe the main action in the present tense, using the past and other tenses to suggest action movements in the story other than what’s happening right now.

But do I have enough lung power to keep up with the breathless pace of present tense narrative in these best-selling contemporary fiction hits that fester within my Kindle? [Read more…]

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