ASK AUNTIE MJ: THINGS ARE GETTING TENSE

boywithbread asked you:

Hello! So here’s my question: What are your thoughts on present tense for a novel (specifically first person/present tense, but also just present tense in general)? A lot of my favorite books are written this way, and I find myself writing in that style as well, but I’ve heard so much flack about it (from my creative writing teacher in college and various others) so I’m concerned it’s a bad idea. Is it?

Glorious boywithbread!

Auntie MJ has been around for a while. She is not saying she has heard it all, but she has heard a lot-certainly more than she has wanted to hear in some cases. One thing that gets up Auntie MJ’s nose is this idea that people can tell you that one specific way of writing is better than another. I don’t mean to call your writing professor a silly ninnymuggins, but … oh. Perhaps I do.

There is nothing wrong with writing in the present tense. It is a perfectly valid use of the English language. People who tell you there is something wrong with it are expressing a personal preference as if it is a Law of Writing. Some people don’t like it. Some people don’t like a lot of things. Some people don’t like: romances, war stories, vampires, lack of vampires, italics, thick books, thin books, books with a lot of adjectives, books that don’t have many adjectives, books that explode upon opening …

All matters of taste. And taste does not a rule make! 

Haters gonna hate, but Auntie MJ urges you to pay no heed. They have no ground to stand on. Here is a helpful article from Grammar Girl on the subject of present tense in writing, with a list of some famous novels written in this style.
If you continue to have problems, you send your professor to me. Auntie MJ will sort it out. She can be very persuasive.
Auntie MJ has a way of explaining things.

Presently,

Auntie MJ