April 2015 – Things Get Tense

In April I absolutely flew through my first draft. Even the days when I felt more like throwing myself from the roof of the office rather than forcing myself to write another 1,000 words became less frequent.

There were times when I knew, unequivocally, that most of what I had written was utter shit. However, if you can pull a single 10 word sentence that forms the beating heart of the scene from a pile of crap, then the other 990 words were worthwhile.

And guess what? You can edit them later.

What you can’t edit is a blank page.

As I neared the First Draft finish line, doubts began to creep in.

Here’s a picture to sugar up the text:


The main fixation of my anxiety: the tense and the POV. First Person Present.

Will anyone like it?

Does it hinder the story? 

I like an awful lot of novels written in Third Person Past…maybe I should rethink the POV and the tense…

So, again, I Googled.

And, again, I was surprised at the reams of literary snobbery floating out there in the wasteland of the worldwide web.

First Person Present is crap

It’s jarring

It’s like watching a film

Novels are not traditionally written in First Person Present

Philip Pullman doesn’t like First Person Present


Fuck traditionally. I am only concerned with whether it’s good or not.

I thought about changing it all. Maybe I still will.

Then I thought about my reasoning for First Person Present.

I like that you can see into the protagonist’s mind. He’s not a very nice man; I wanted the reader to feel complicit in his schemes, dragged into a seedy, backstabbing universe. I felt the present tense also helped with creating some urgency. The plot is twisty, so for it to be narrated with hindsight detracted from some of the Holy Fuck moments.

That I’m even considering my novel has ‘Holy Fuck moments’ seems a world away from where I was in January, wrestling with the bones of a plan and thinking this’ll never work.

Which is really rather marvellous.


  1. Hi Jack, I liked your blog. I know the feeling too. Just keep going write.. write… Second draft. You may tear your hair out . haha. Thanks also for popping along to my blog and now following. AJ 🙂


      1. Hi Jack, Good luck to you. Just give it a break for a while. Go back, when your mind has rested. I know I got word blind. Didn’t see my errors. Looking back at it too soon. AJ 🙂


  2. I finished my 1st novel November of 2012 almost a year to the day that I started it. Then I took a long hiatus from editing it and have gone through three drafts and I’m currently finishing up and polishing off the final rewrite, after growing in the time since then and having started a couple of different novels that I decided to shelve until I finished the first in completion. Don’t let the insanity of writing get to you, I became a very well established painter to take the edge off of writing myself, always trust the process and never be afraid to let your work sit so you can come back to it with fresh eyes. Nothing worse than forcing yourself to write or writing while worn! So Write my friend Write!


  3. I totally get that–I did actually change my first novel from 1st person present to 3rd past–and in many ways that really helped. BUT it also opened a huge can of worms when it came time to edit, because there is no graceful way to make those changes globally, and even with two professional edits, it required a third deep edit and a professional proofreader to catch the sneaky errors of tense that were accidentally created and left in.

    Still, I’m glad I did it. (3 years after the misery.)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In my opinion, if you chose first person present tense for the right reasons, it can work quite well. I think first person present tense can make for an interesting read, if it’s done well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I bin on a bit ov a block lately and just seein your like (& 2 others!) made me realise that what u say here is soooooooo right! Just get up and write, you never know who’s gonna read it next! Cheers man, it’s a lonely job, that of a writer but someone’s gotta do it eh!?

    Liked by 1 person

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