Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Brief Essays on Genre, Part 20: On the Present Tense

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On the Present Tense

 

It is at least a decade ago and I am teaching a class on writing. I no longer do this. Even then it is rare. But this time I am. Earlier in the class, I state that in fiction the present tense should only be used when there is a compelling reason to do so. Otherwise, the past tense is best.

 

Now a student objects, “But present tense is so much more immediate!”

 

“The word you are searching for,” I say, “is distancing.”

 

--Michael Swanwick

 

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