Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Here and Now

I'm doing something new. In all my years of writing, dabbling in writing, and playing at writing, I've always naturally written in past tense. Never questioned it. Never thought about it. It just came out. It was right.

A good friend of mine has written 2 books and is about to finish his 3rd. All have been written in present tense. I asked him about it once, not too long ago, and he said that it never really occurred to him not to write in present tense. It works well for the books, too, and believe me when I say all 3 couldn't be more different. He has a very strong Voice (that reminds me of Karen Marie Moning's Fever series--anyone read that? Love it.), which contributes to the overall feel of the story, of course, but that present tense...it just drives the narrative, giving it a real sense of movement and urgency and flow.

So, as I said in my post yesterday, I've started back up with an older story idea of mine. I've discarded most of the original concepts, just retaining the core idea and the young adult audience.

When thinking about this story, there were a few things that stood out in my mind instantly:

1) I wanted it to have an atmospheric quality. I'm setting it at my grandparents' old cabin in the mountains, and if I've ever been witness to real magic, it was there. I want to try to capture that sense in the story, that sense that when you're standing alone at the top of a mountain, surrounded by hundreds of acres of woods, that anything can happen.

2) Because the protag is finding out something extremely hard about herself and her family, I want the reader to experience it in the same blow-by-blow, process-it-as-it-comes fashion that she herself has to.

3) Even though my target audience in my mind is young adult, I believe in pushing the envelope, probably stemming from being an English major who likes to play with convention. I was a smart teenager, and there are tons of smart teens out there reading, so I'd like to offer up something a bit different, something that could possibly act as an open door into more experimental literature. OK, I'm probably getting way ahead of myself and patting myself on the back here, but hey. It's my blog. I'm king of the world here.

So all of this is to say that I've decided the only way to tell this story is in present tense.

I've never written present tense, but it's going pretty well so far.

Present tense, stream-of-consciousness-esque supernatural. I want it to be creepy and beautiful and chilling and evocative and gut-wrenching.

I also want a million billion dollars and a new right arm, but I'll just settle for getting through this manuscript, eh?

9 comments:

Falen said...

ooh a million billion dollars! that would be awesome!
I don't know when the last time i've written present tense was. I'm like you, past is just natural for me.

also your 1st point, really really makes me want to read your story. So hurry up and publish it so i can buy a copy!

J. Kaye said...

I am a huge fan on Moning! Love both her Highlander and Fever series. :)

Nicole Ducleroir said...

I'm excited for you, not only because you're (re)starting a new project, but because you're breaking out of your comfort zone and trying something different. Every new story should have a little of that, something that raises the bar in your craft and pushes you to excel in new ways. Go for it!

Swimmer said...

Wow the way you described the book made me want to read it and now all I can think about is this place in the mountains. I go hiking everyonce and a while and I can almost see the exact place you are talking about. Oh my Gosh now I really want to read this book. And I don't even know what it is about!!!!!!

Kimberly Franklin said...

Sounds like a great story. And present tense can be beautiful when written properly. Good luck on your new story!

chai am woman said...

i love your blog. it makes me want to be a writer even though i would never EVER write for real for real. i mean... just look at my last two "sentences."

but honestly, it sounds great!

Summer said...

Thank you, lovely ladies! It's already coming along nicely, really speaking to me. Present tense was definitely the way to go!

Maybe in a little while, I'll give some more detail about the concept...

And Amanda--you're a great writer, and I know this because you have TWO blogs that I love!

Your Friendly Neighborhood Palindrome said...

I agree with Falen...write fast!!!

"I want it to be creepy and beautiful and chilling and evocative and gut-wrenching."

Well, now I want it to be too! I love books that are all those things.

I also gravitate towards past tense. Maybe it's because I always feel as if I'm telling a story that's already been told to me a million times and now I'm just paying it forward.

I may have to try present tense one day...

Christine Danek said...

Sounds interesting. Good luck!