Present: Tense

The rumors proved true, and it turns out that there is not another Harley Stroh struggling to make a career writing shared world fiction. Due to some clerical error, I made the Round 1 cut in the World of Darkness fiction contest. Chapter 1 is due June 30th.

As per the suggestions laid out in the WWECD? Guide to Success in Shared World Publishing, I’ve been reading all the World of Darkness material I can get my grubby hands on. Presently I’m reading A Hunger Like Fire, by Greg Stolze, the first novel in the new WoD line. This is the flagship book, against which all others will be measured and judged.

A guess what?

It was written in present tense.

Like a lot of other fledgling writers, I’ve always harbored a guilty affection for ol’ PT. I’m sure you're familiar with all the arguments for and against its use. I won’t list them here, but if you have any thoughts of your own, I welcome them.

In my own experience as a reader, the question is largely moot. By the time you get to page 50, your brain has adapted, and the prose no longer seems any more “immediate” nor “awkward,”* which raises another question: if the reader’s brain is going to adapt anyway, why bother using it?

But, thankfully, better minds than mine will sort this out. I’ve been given the freedom, for better or for worse, to write a novel (or, at least the first chapter of a novel) in present tense.


*Immediate and awkward. Sounds like my sort of gig. ;)


At 10:06 AM, Blogger Marcy said...

WWECD...very funny! She'd probably tell you not to write the novel in present tense, though. ;)

Congrats, BTW...though I am not in the least surprised.

And were the first 100 words of the Phil the Dragon story yours?

At 10:48 AM, Blogger Grimbones said...

Nope! Thanks for the guess though ....

.... I was responsible for killing everyone. It felt like the story wasn't going anywhere. :)

At 10:48 AM, Blogger Grimbones said...

"WWECD...very funny! She'd probably tell you not to write the novel in present tense, though."

Heh....nods. I know you're right. :)

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Kameron said...

Don't decide the tense of your book on what someone else in the line has done. That's a decision that should be based upon the needs of your story.

You know, it's about time someone beat the humility out of you and replaced it with a little ego, H. ;) You've got quite a string of success going and your breakout is looming on the horizon.

At 12:38 PM, Blogger Ian Kappos said...

I agree with Kameron. Don't let someone else's style in the line affect yours. Sure, you have to follow the same rules in terms of the world and artifacts, ect., but the style/tense is up to you.

Personally, I have no problem with present tense. I've actually written a few present tense stories, one of which will be appearing in the first issue of Unhallowed Sanctum. Although, I have to say that I think present tense does the horror genre more justice than it does fantasy.

At 1:32 PM, Blogger Jeff LaSala said...

Amen to all that, guys. Harley, you're awesome and I hope you get this. Go for 1st person if you want to.

I think that might be fun to do sometime. Besides, I think writing in first person is *easier*, which is not a cop-out...because you know inherently what your perspective is. No messy, accidental reaching into someone else's head...

...unless you're a telepath. Hmm...that sounds like fun to me.

At 1:35 PM, Blogger Jeff LaSala said...

Wow...what a personable, human-sounding Round 1 Announcement that page is! WotC never does that! Imagine getting some more feedback like that from Wizards:

"We got one too many submissions about albino shifter artificers from Sharn's underground AA support group, folks. Next time, don't try so hard to be different."


At 1:37 PM, Blogger Jeff LaSala said...

Ooops? Why did I read that as "1st person" and not "present tense." Ignore me.

At 2:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations again Harley. I absolutely belive you deserve this success.

Kam's right - your breakout is just on the horizon.

Keep it coming.


At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Erik Scott de Bie said...

Congrats, Harley!

I shall look forward to reading the book, which I have no doubt you'll get.

Present tense? Myself, I've written too many things in past tense and just. . . can't. . . DO present tense. I admire your gutsiness.


At 4:09 PM, Blogger Ian Kappos said...

Can't "DO" present tense? Hopefully you at least like READING present tense, otherwise Unhallowed Sanctum wasn't as a great read for you as I thought it would be. ;)

At 6:15 PM, Blogger Silverfyre said...

Congrats, my man! And if you need help with anything related to WoD, lemme know. I have well, every Vampire the Masquerade book released. I've got some of the new stuff on PDF as well if you want it.

At 8:11 PM, Anonymous Erik Scott de Bie said...

I mean I just can't write present tense without feeling too self-conscious, which often thwarts my best efforts to write. That's all.

No problem with reading it!


At 10:51 PM, Blogger Silverfyre said...

Erik, by the way, you are one of the most talented writers I have gotten to meet. I love your work. Is there any where I can read more?

Best of luck,
Chris McCoy
Goblin Wrangler

At 2:56 PM, Blogger ec said...

WWECD? Egad, what a concept. In this particular case, she'd congratulate a colleague on a well-deserved first-round win, send best wishes for future rounds, and observe that a writer should employ whatever voice and tense is best suited to telling the story he wants to tell. :)


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