Third Person Present Tense

by Telly
(Portland)

Hi Glen. I'm having a bit of a problem right now, but first I want to say thank you! This website has helped me a lot with my writing, and I finally shook off my writer's block. I really appreciate it.


My problem is that I naturally write in Third Person Present Tense, for some reason that's my innate style of writing. I didn't notice it until I turned in a creative writing piece to my Language Arts teaches and got knocked down points for using TPPT. Then, I realized I've been writing my whole story that way, and began to get really stressed out. What should I do? Should I keep using TPPT or change it?

Answer: There's nothing inherently wrong with using third person present narration, provided it fits the story and you do so consistently.

Of course, your teacher may set certain requirements for an assignment, but you can find plenty of published novels written in present tense.

In fact, present tense has become more popular in recent decades, possibly because screenplays are always written in present tense.

Some people prefer past tense because it suggests that the narrator has had time to reflect on the events of the story and what they mean, and can look at them from that perspective, whereas present tense implies there has been no time for reflection. On the other hand, present tense lets the reader experience the events in a very immediate way, the way the characters would experience them as they unfold.

My suggestion is that you meet your teacher's requirements for the assignment, but if you are writing for publication you should use which ever narrative mode you feel makes this particular story more emotionally engaging.

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