Friday, September 24, 2010

Just plain weird

I just started reading a new YA book yesterday. Nothing weird there. But this book is written in third person present tense. I have never come across a novel written in third person present tense before. Children's picture books, yes, but a novel? It's weird. Jarring and strange and incredibly intrusive to the reading experience.

I use a lot of first person present tense in my writing. It has an immediacy that you don't get with past tense writing, an action to it that surges from the page (when it's done right). I'm not getting that with this third person voice. I feel distanced from the protagonist, which, given the subject matter in this particular book, may not be such a bad thing. But mostly, it feels wrong. I keep wanting to change sentences so they are in the past tense, or make the character's name 'I'.

I'm going to keep reading because while it feels completely weird to read, I'm curious to see if it can be pulled off. I'm also curious to see if I could sustain that kind of voice for the length of a story - not willing to try a novel yet - and if it would work. What kind of story could possibly require a third person present tense narrative? Other than a picture book? Has anyone got any ideas? Any suggestions of other novels written in this way?

I'm not sure I like it, but I'm always eager to spread my wings and try something new.

1 comment:

  1. I have a few books like that and it is very striking and effective if done well.