Meagan Spooner
Absolutely brilliant. This is the sci fi I’ve been waiting for! Action, romance, twists and turns–this book has it all!

Beth Revis, New York Times best-selling author of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE

2017-11-06T11:42:38-05:00

Beth Revis, New York Times best-selling author of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE

Absolutely brilliant. This is the sci fi I’ve been waiting for! Action, romance, twists and turns–this book has it all!
"A literally breathtaking archaeological expedition. Spooner and Kaufman prove once again that no one does high-stakes adventure shenanigans like they do."

E. K. Johnston, #1 New York Times best-selling author of Star Wars: Ahsoka

2017-11-06T11:44:34-05:00

E. K. Johnston, #1 New York Times best-selling author of Star Wars: Ahsoka

"A literally breathtaking archaeological expedition. Spooner and Kaufman prove once again that no one does high-stakes adventure shenanigans like they do."
One of the most intense, thrilling, and achingly beautiful stories I’ve ever read. Kaufman and Spooner will break your heart with skilled aplomb, and you’ll thank them for it. Absolutely incredible! If I have to, I will come to your house and shove this book into your hands!

Marie Lu, New York Times best-selling author of the Legend trilogy

2017-11-06T11:48:19-05:00

Marie Lu, New York Times best-selling author of the Legend trilogy

One of the most intense, thrilling, and achingly beautiful stories I’ve ever read. Kaufman and Spooner will break your heart with skilled aplomb, and you’ll thank them for it. Absolutely incredible! If I have to, I will come to your house and shove this book into your hands!
With rich, complex characters and a dynamic—and dangerous—new world, THESE BROKEN STARS completely transported me.

Jodi Meadows, author of the Incarnate series

2017-11-06T12:09:41-05:00

Jodi Meadows, author of the Incarnate series

With rich, complex characters and a dynamic—and dangerous—new world, THESE BROKEN STARS completely transported me.
Intense and absorbing, Skylark transported me to a world of magic and danger unlike anything I’ve read before. I loved Lark, and was riveted by her journey of survival and self-discovery. Dark, original, and beautiful, this is a novel you don’t want to miss.

Veronica Rossi, author of UNDER THE NEVER SKY

2017-11-06T12:13:28-05:00

Veronica Rossi, author of UNDER THE NEVER SKY

Intense and absorbing, Skylark transported me to a world of magic and danger unlike anything I’ve read before. I loved Lark, and was riveted by her journey of survival and self-discovery. Dark, original, and beautiful, this is a novel you don’t want to miss.
Skylark's rich narrative and plucky heroine will transport you into a mesmerizing and horrifying world.

New York Times bestselling author Carrie Jones

2017-11-27T09:17:02-05:00

New York Times bestselling author Carrie Jones

Skylark's rich narrative and plucky heroine will transport you into a mesmerizing and horrifying world.
With its blend of dystopian, steampunk, and generally fantastical elements, Spooner's follow up is even stronger and more gripping as the debut and is sure to ensnare further loyal readers.

Booklist (Starred Review)

2017-11-27T10:01:57-05:00

Booklist (Starred Review)

With its blend of dystopian, steampunk, and generally fantastical elements, Spooner's follow up is even stronger and more gripping as the debut and is sure to ensnare further loyal readers.
This intriguing dystopian adventure's depiction of the stand this strong female protagonist takes against the horrors of her world is fast-paced, compelling, and un-put-downable.

VOYA

2017-11-27T10:05:07-05:00

VOYA

This intriguing dystopian adventure's depiction of the stand this strong female protagonist takes against the horrors of her world is fast-paced, compelling, and un-put-downable.
Once again, the worldbuilding is superb, the characters fully fleshed out and intriguing, the battles riveting, and the edge-of-the seat suspense compelling. Teens looking for a well-written dystopian adventure with steampunk elements in the magical machines created by the Architects will enjoy spending time with Lark and her companions.

VOYA Magazine, starred review

2017-11-27T10:27:43-05:00

VOYA Magazine, starred review

Once again, the worldbuilding is superb, the characters fully fleshed out and intriguing, the battles riveting, and the edge-of-the seat suspense compelling. Teens looking for a well-written dystopian adventure with steampunk elements in the magical machines created by the Architects will enjoy spending time with Lark and her companions.
An extremely entertaining tale of past, present and future leaving the question: where does humanity stand when the best laid plans backfire?

Children's Literature

2017-11-27T10:29:04-05:00

Children's Literature

An extremely entertaining tale of past, present and future leaving the question: where does humanity stand when the best laid plans backfire?
A haunting and romantic exploration of love and what sacrifices come with freedom.


Marie Lu

2017-11-27T15:17:04-05:00

Marie Lu

A haunting and romantic exploration of love and what sacrifices come with freedom.
Amazing. That one word describes the whole book.

VOYA

2017-11-27T15:18:24-05:00

VOYA

Amazing. That one word describes the whole book.

On Tenses: When to Use Present, When to Use Past

Lately it seems like every other YA novel I pick up is first person present tense. Which, when done right, is awesome. Some of my favorite books are in present tense. But I keep seeing books written in present tense with no actual reason for it. I think THE HUNGER GAMES, among other books, made this particular style of narration jump in popularity lately. I’m seeing a ton of aspiring writers using it in books that I’m not quite sure warrant it.

While it’s not the only reason to use it, I think a big benefit to writing in first person present is that it reintroduces the possibility of the narrator dying in the novel. While it’s certainly still possible to kill off a first person past narrator (I’d name an example but it’d be a huge spoiler for a great book) there’s definitely an implication by the form itself that the narrator survived the story and is now recounting it from some undefined point in the future. With present, there’s no such implication—events are unfolding for the reader at the same time they’re unfolding for the characters. (Note: in THIRD person past, there’s no implication the character survives. It’s only when the character is also the narrator that you get this sometimes unwitting implication.)

In THE HUNGER GAMES this works beautifully. The whole question through the first book is whether Katniss will be able to bring herself to kill someone else—because if she doesn’t, SHE’LL die. If we know she survives from the beginning, then that question is more or less answered the moment we start reading.

In SKYLARK, the story is told through first person past POV. I have no problem with people knowing Lark survives, particularly because there are sequels that continue to follow her, and everybody knows that. In Lark’s world, there are fates (yes, fates plural) worse than death. Simple survival may be her goal at first, but it doesn’t stay that way for long.

In THESE BROKEN STARS, however, my co-author Amie Kaufman and I decided to use first person present because there is every possibility—even probability—that one or both of the characters might die. In the opening chapters, Lilac and Tarver crash-land on an abandoned, mysterious planet with very little hope that anyone even knows where they are, much less how to rescue them. First person present appealed to us because we wanted that danger to be extremely present, and to prepare the reader for the possibility of things going horribly wrong.

Present tense can be totally awesome, but I think it needs to be a deliberate choice. I think the author needs to be prepared to defend his or her decision, because if there aren’t good reasons for it, stylistically it’s kind of the writing equivalent of ‘shopping all your photographs into sepia tone to make them look deep and artsy. (Disclaimer: I totally love Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, but I think we can all agree this picture is a little silly.)

Often when I start writing, I can’t tell you why I choose a particular POV or tense for the story, though it often becomes clear as I go. I think picking the optimal narrative style for you book is equal parts instinct and analysis—which is why it’s helpful to come at it from both sides of the brain!

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

4 Responses to “On Tenses: When to Use Present, When to Use Past”

  1. Jennifleur says:

    I love this post. I remember when I was younger, if I was worried about the fate of the narrator, I would try and reassure myself that it was past tense and therefore the narrator had to be alive, right? In the novel I’m drafting now, it’s been difficult to decide which tense and person to write in (currently first person present tense). It’s always fascinating to see what other people choose for their characters and why. 🙂

  2. Amie Kaufman says:

    Man, see, this is why you’re my Yoda. Such a great post!

  3. Oh so true. I think we need to be careful not to jump on trends just because they’re trendy. I tend to write in first person present tense, but I’ve been doing it for years. I think it’s because I tend to talk that way (“Ok, so we go into the store, right? And out comes this robber who’s frigging gorgeous!”) It’s harder for me to write in past tense, I’ve discovered, and I often will slip back into present by accident. But if it makes sense to use past tense, it’s worth the challenge. I like the idea of past tense because it can actually make it more suspenseful (“If I’d known I were going to be the last person to see Earth before it exploded, I would’ve taken a picture.”), but it’s hard to imply that you could die at the end of it (unless you turn out to be a ghost or something).

  4. Gracie says:

    For most up-to-date information you have to pay
    a quick visit the web and on the web I found this web page as a best web site for most recent updates.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to the newsletter: