Past, Present, and Future: Exploring the Literary Effects of Tense

The contemporary popularity of the present tense in narrative storytelling has been critiqued by authors such as Philip Pullman, who have argued a preference for the tone associated with the past tense. Popularised by figures such as Jane Austen, the past tense can be used to achieve a ‘classic’ tone in narrative writing; today, however, authors are freely experimenting with tense.

This article will address how, in today’s world, the aspiring author make sense of tense. Is it a matter of personal preference, or do choices of tense play into more complex sociocultural aesthetics? If tense matters, how important is it to take a stance on the subject? Is tense a purely relativist construct, its validity being subject predominantly to the whims of the author?

  • I've got to say, and it might just be a matter of personal preference, but there are better ways to inform us that the article is going to address something, better than saying it just like that. It's too rigid and academic – Yusra Usmani 1 year ago
  • I actually really like this topic. You could do cross literary analysis over different genres and compare fiction and non-fiction. Past tense what we're used to most of the time, yes, but I've started to see a rise in present tense. Tense flow and how tense can effect the tone of a story can be analyzed as well. – Ara 1 year ago

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