I have uncovered a new pet peeve. Or rather, re-uncovered an old one that I hadn’t had to dust off in a while, outside of things reluctantly read for English classes. Stories written in the present tense.
Seriously, people. Why.
Blogs, writing in the present tense? Sure, fine. That’s a conversation, albeit one with a time lag. A bit like talking to a Moon colony, which does make things interesting. *G*
Stories? Stories all go back to that old formula, “Once upon a time….”
(Or if you’re a mecha pilot? “No bleep, there I was….”)
Any way you slice it, we’re keyed to listen to stories; as entertainment, as keeping up with the Neanderthals and Denisovians next cave over, as a lesson on what pretty red berries NOT to eat. And those stories are set in the past, as things that have happened. And that’s the format we’re wired to expect. Even if it’s a pure SF story a millennium in the future, we read it as, “This is a thing that has already happened, or there wouldn’t be anyone left to tell us the story.”
So far this week I’ve run into two separate novels that were written in present tense. (One wobbled back and forth between present and past tense, which is in a way worse.) Had I had my hands on the physical books instead of using Amazon’s Look Inside, I’d have walled them both.
Those authors? Getting no bucks from me. No matter how good the rest of their writing is, or how interesting their story ideas. My brain hits the present tense and goes, “This is supposed to be a story, not an overheard cellphone call! Must. Destroy….”
I admit, I grew up on The Hobbit, R.E. Howard, and Andre Norton. So maybe I’m old-fashioned. But still. Grammar mistakes? I can deal. Punctuation problems? Eh, there’s always a typo daemon. Misuse of homonyms? Edit better next time, but if the story’s otherwise chugging along, I’ll ignore. Present tense stories, no.