Writer's Block: Should I write in past or present? - Claire Scobie
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Writer’s Block: Should I write in past or present?

Writer’s Block: Should I write in past or present?

There isn’t any right way to write. Often the tense we choose to write in is personal

I find writing in present tense really hard; yet an author friend always writes in the present.

Some stories lend themselves to the present tense: say for example, if you are writing from the point of view of a child as children tend to live in the present moment.

If you are writing something historical and you want to make it seem like it’s current. Hilary Mantel did that very successfully in Wolf Hall but not everyone can pull it off. What’s important to watch is if you switch between past and present without realising. That’s disconcerting for the reader.

One way to avoid this is check (every 20 minutes, say) which tense you are writing in. Have a look at the verbs: they’ll tell you if you’ve slipped. If you do tend to slip up, then when you do revise I suggest one revision ONLY looks at the tense — nothing else.

Otherwise, you need a really good second reader or writing buddy to help you.

What works for you?

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