I was in a group discussion today about writing novels, editing etc, when someone asked if I’d solely write in first person present tense. The answer is no, I prefer to, but that doesn’t mean I shall always. It was a fair question in a reasonable, I like to think educated, discussion. Then, another party joined the group. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when a discussion snowballs and everyone wants in, but this person wasn’t contributing anything other than forcing their opinions on me.
“Did you know that first person present tense is rated as the least favoured writing tense by readers? they said.
No, I did not. (I will research the truth in that a little later for my own interest.) Joining in a discussion that you weren’t originally a part of with a negative is always disgruntling to me.
Okay, how does this help our discussion. Why does it feel lazy? What is it that irks you so much about it? Valid arguments require valid reasoning. You’re allowed an opinion, but I’m allowed a reason, right?
My reply, “I enjoy being in the MC’s head, and I definitely wouldn’t call it lazy writing. There are pros and cons to writing in any tense or POV. First person present tense is restrictive to time manipulation, and progressing the story whilst keeping it interesting is quite a feat.
“I just can’t help but think that it’s self-absorbed. It’s like the author is the MC and merely acting out their own fantasies.”
Okay, don’t all writers do that to an extent? There is a little piece of me in every character I create- villain, protagonist, dog.
My reply, “I disagree. I love reading narratives in first person present tense, and I think that’s why I naturally write that way too. Each writer has their own style, and each reader has their own taste. To devalue one is pointless because for every person that says they hate a book, there is another who loves it.
“Yes, but like I said, you write in the least favoured writing tense and POV,” they add.
“And if you switch to, let’s say, third person past tense, you’d access a bigger target audience.”
“Perhaps, but why would I do that?”
“To make more money.”
Bingo. Now, that is why I’m a writer, and you are not, good sir. I write for the love not the money. I love what I write, and although you may not, there are others who do. (That being said, this guy hasn’t even read my book.)
My reply, “When did we start talking about money?”
All Gifs have been sourced from GIPHY.