Tense

I made a decision sometime ago to use the present tense in the novelette I’m currently writing. In part this was intended to be a writing exercise, but also because the nature of this story is such that I want the reader to be in the moment as the narrative unfolds.

The story is about an endurance race. I had written some seven thousand words before I realized that I needed a method to explain a lot of jargon that is specific to the sports. I used a team of sportscasters to bring this information to the reader and found, as I wrote the dialogue, that the narrative would be much more compelling in the present tense.

This realization, after writing so much, has cost me and continues to burn. There are artifacts, written in the past tense, littered throughout the story that I’m not very good at rooting out. I end up needing to read each sentence aloud, slowly and with intent, so that I can hear the artifacts.

The lesson I may be learning here is to make up my mind about tense and other structural issues before I start to write. It’s one more element of planning I should not overlook.

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