Past vs. Present Tense

Of late I’ve found myself torn between using the past and the present tense in my work. There are some sentences that just sound better when phrased in the present tense and the angle it can provide the story is different. I’ve found the two bleeding together a lot lately as I’m working on a past tense book and a present tense book at the same time. This has led to a lot of editing and backtracking and more than a little questioning as to how I want to tell my story.

The present tense isn’t one commonly used in published novels and a quick google search informed me there’s nothing wrong with it, but readers may find it difficult because it’s different. It’s a tense that is commonly used in fanfiction, and I’ve found I almost prefer it to the past tense. Some of the best stories I’ve read have used the present tense and the feel of everything being immediate is refreshing.

In my writing, I’ve found it’s easier to keep with the present tense as opposed to the past. Inevitably, when I go back and reread my work, I’ll find a sentence written in the present as opposed to the past and I’ll reword it and find that it just doesn’t sound as good. There are ways of course to get around this, to make a past tense sound more present without actually breaking tense, but that’s a conversation for another day.

The tense used to tell a story is incredibly important, so my question is this: Is it true? Do you as a reader find the present tense off putting? If you do, why?


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