What is it with tenses these days? I picked up a book this morning at the library that looked extremely promising – all sorts of accolades in the blurb and it was a debut, which I try and make a point of reading. But on flicking through it, I realised it was written in the present tense so I put it down. I’ll admit I’m old fashioned – I like my narratives in the past tense and while I’ve written a couple of short stories in the the present tense I can’t imagine sustaining it for an entire novel. I deliberately chose present tense for effect, to make it more immediate, given the types of stories they were (ghost stories).
And yet present tense narrative in fiction does seem increasingly popular with writers. Choice of tense doesn’t seem to be something that’s necessarily related to genre – the book I put down today was a contemporary crime thriller, but I’ve seen present tense narrative used in historical novels, but mostly ones I gave up on I have to say.
Is it a thing of personal taste in the same way that I’m not over fond of first person narrative, or is there something else to it? Indeed does it reflect a change in the language where we can relate events that occurred in the past in the present?