Timing is everything. Time is money. Time is so important that many great quotes on the subject exist:

 "It is my feeling that Time ripens all things; with Time all things are revealed; Time is the father of truth." Francois Rabelais

"Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides;
Who cover faults, at last shame them derides" - Wm. Shakespeare (King Lear)


I bring this up for one reason. Now is the time to restate something I've harped on before: if you write a story in present-tense I will hunt you down and kill you on behalf of good writing. Why is this true? Why am I so worked up about it? The latter is due to Fifty Shades of Grey now out, popular, and somehow being made into a film that isn't X-rated. And it's written in first-person present-tense, which is fine for the Twilight fanfiction it is, if it remained on slashfiction sites. How the publisher allowed it to go to press like this and how so many people have bought it goes to show popular sure don't mean right.

Present-tense is limiting in your ability to write, that's why it's frowned upon. Moreso it denotes an immature untrained writer. Oh, it has its place, and we'll get to what that is, but if you write a story start-to-finish in present-tense real publishers and agents will laugh you out of their office.

For a moment, let's turn away from present- vs. past-tense and just admit the book fucking sucks. Most of the criticisms of it come from how bad the writing is. Take that as a clue: only bad writers employ present-tense. As a published author people are always trying to get my advice on their writing. I get to read a lot of fanfiction written by people with only 2 high school English classes under their belt and too much is written in present-tense. I get 5 words in and hand it back, telling them to burn it. I'm not kidding. If they "'edit it" and bring it back still in present-tense, I punch them in the face. Tact has never been my strong suit. 



 
So very, very true


 
I won't get into the feminism angle overmuch (it's not the BDSM that makes it misogynistic, it's that the main character has no life outside a man) or overly-lament the BDSM aspect (as a trained & practicing Domme of 13 years it makes me laugh hysterically and weep) but all in all, if you enjoyed this work, you are sophomoric, infantile, and frankly I can guess you have a 2 digit IQ (remember 85-115 is average so if you're 85-99 you're not retarded, just mediocre). Seriously if you liked it, get off my blog, hate me, just fuck off. That's how much I hate it.

My hate is only so strong because I fear this will drive home the lesson that present-tense is okay. IT'S NOT! It NEVER IS except in small, certain dosages, and even then it's weak writing.

Let's turn to that: when is it okay? If you read a lot, you'll know: when a random chapter or passage is told by the unknown villain's point of view. Where does it happen most often? In romance/mystery novels. Remember, romance novels are the mimes of literature, one of the lowest forms. Oh, they're guilty pleasures and can be done well, but overall the genre is infantile, warping our sexuality, and populated by hacks. Even these hacks know that's the only quasi-acceptable time to present-tense. The reason these writers do it is because they can;t change their narration when switching POV. They're employing present-tense to cheat because they only know how to write from one POV: their own.



Come on, admit it. No genre that could spawn this should garner any respect.   Credit 



So why do people do it? Because they are writing their own fantasy. Pure. Simple. You are reading E.L. James' personal sexual fantasy. Being endlessly pleasured by a billionaire while being lazy and only reciprocating when ordered is her fantasy. Why is is so popular? Because readers are humans, and being lazily pleasured (aka ravished) is the #1 sexual fantasy of most men and women. Think about it...it's a nice deal when you can get it.

So E.L. James read Twilight for the same reason a lot of people did; because vampires are the new alpha males, and she bought into the fantasy that a vampire would be a dominant lover, and not a psychotic killer. Only, surprise! Stephanie Meyer is a Mormon, so no sex before marriage. So she went and changed a few things: she made "Edward" a billionaire, made him human (so, you  know, to not make it a total ripoff) and made "Edward" and "Bella" a little bit older. She tailored it to her personal fantasy and wrote it out.

Try it! Write down that fantasy you like best, the one that always gets you off. It naturally comes out in present-tense, doesn't it? Of course it does. Your brain instinctively knows this is for you to read and no one else. Listen to it. If Fifty Shades of Grey had no publicity connecting it to Twilight it would have gone nowhere. Twilight is also a long drawn-out personal fantasy, but (I want to die for having to write this) at least Stephanie Meyer wrote it in past-tense.

Let me say this again: NO ONE WANTS TO READ YOUR PERSONAL FANTASIES and present-tense is a tip-off to your prose being just that. Seriously. Ladies, do you want to read a story about a man who is forced to dress as a woman, be fucked in the ass with a strap-on by a woman, then worship her feet, eat her out, be tied up, whipped...oh, gee, look at that...present-tense. You see that's my fantasy, and of the average 50 readers of this blog at current I'd be lucky if just one went "that's actually hot." personal fantasies have no place in fiction in any way other than is initial inspiration.

For example. Hidden Magic was based off one of my favorite fantasies. In my fantasy, I am a warrior in a female-dominated regency-style society who, returning from war, found a man in the road with amnesia. Realizing he was one of the enemy, aka a male-dominated society I'd just fought in the war, he was a challenging sex partner. I also in this fantasy have a mansion filled with 50 male sex slaves and by the end the young man I found becomes one of them. Few women would share that, so gone went the amnesia, the male protagonist became a sorcerer, and the sex slaves disappeared. From the ratings, it went well. People like a story they can place themselves into, and one of the ways to do that is with past-tense narration.



This is my average Wednesday night. Would you have enjoyed Hidden Magic so much if this was in it?


  

Past-tense makes the reader feel like the narrator is telling them the story, as if they are having coffee with a friend. You the reader and the narrator are sharing the experience together. Present-tense makes you feel like you're talking to that one annoying friend who blathers on about themself, never really listens to you, and is just waiting for their turn to speak while you're talking. If you don't like that friend, don't like that writing style.

And if you don't believe me, think of all classic literature, the great books of all time. Have any of them been written in present-tense? NO. If Nabakov wrote Lolita in present-tense, he would have been arrested and tried as a pedophile. Lolita is an arguable story, but using past-tense narration we see it's JUST A STORY. Contrast that with slashfiction, often written in present-tense. The author masturbates to that story once a week. Try reading it now.



 
Only socially awkward penguin could enjoy present-tense narration