This is a two person task. One person is to read the following paragraph while the other counts how many times the reader’s head spins around.
Susie stands still and let the emotions wash over her. She feared it would be worse. She thought she was going to be left behind. She needs this job to get her into her new life. Connie is an amazing friend and has promised to help her reconnect with her only surviving family, Dean, her spirited brother, is out West. She has to find him. Her friendship has nearly cost her the dream. She swallowed her fearful tears and gets back to work.
Nope. I checked. I copied it word for word except I changed the names. Did you feel as though you’d just gotten off the Tilt-A-Whirl? Maybe a little nausea was starting to creep in?
That is an example of present tense narrative. At least it’s supposed to be. Seems the author got a little mixed up along the way. Present tense is annoying when written well. It’s not natural. And when written poorly, present tense is down- right throw-the-book-out-the-window aggravating!
I downloaded the novel and after the first page I was dizzy, but I felt I owed it to the author to read the entire story. You know. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Yep. I knew better, but I did it anyway. I won’t need to go to Disney World for a long, long time.
Take a look at the books on Amazon. The genre is clearly stated, and it’s nice to know, before you buy, that it’s the kind of book you enjoy. Right? Suppose the genre wasn’t listed. You might end up with a horror story when you really wanted a good romance, (Yes. Sometimes they’re one and the same, but we won’t go there. At least… not today.) or a science fiction when you were in the mood for a good western. And yes, Cowboys and Aliens is a bit of both, but I’m getting away from the point I wanted to make.
A writer is allowed his own style (between the book covers it’s his world, and no one has the right to change his world), but in all fairness to me as a reader (a lowly creature who helps keep the lights turned on for the writer), the writer should, at the very least, as a courtesy, state the tense in which the story is written. Give me, the reader, a chance to decide which writers I’ll pay so they can afford to keep their lights on, day and night, to supply me with endless good reads, and which writers (I hope) keep their day job so they can afford a class or two about writing in the natural voice of narrative—past tense.
Just my humble opinion.
And if anybody wants to know, I’ll take a county fair, or carnival, over Disney World any day of the week. There’s enough material to be gleaned from the locals who flock to the tents, fun houses, and parking lots to keep a writer busy until his real lights go out. And who can resist funnel cakes, elephant ears, or a dribble-down-your-arm Indian fry bread Taco! Not me!
I’m hungry, so I’ll shut up now.
(Debora goes to the refrigerator. She pulls out the refried beans and puts them in the microwave. She salivates as she thinks about Indian fry bread tacos. We can only hope she trips over a cat, hits her head on the counter, and remains unconscious until her brain is rewired to write narrative in past tense.)