June 18th, 2012

Fanfic - Karaoke

Dept. of How Do You Write?

Follow Up to My Fic Question

To all the amazing fic readers and writers on my f'list; thank you so very much for responding to the questions I asked last week about present-tense writing. I was completely and happily gobsmacked by the thought you all put into your answers.

I shouldn't have been surprised, mind you, because you've all proven repeatedly, via your fic writing, your comments elsewhere, and your general awesomeness (awesome fandom is AWESOME), that I should have expected nothing but reflective and articulate consideration of the issue. Bad me, no cookie.

I was so swamped with my Officially Crazed Work Week that I never got the chance to do what I normally do quite obsessively; respond to everyone's comments. I may try to do that, but I thought that if I couldn't answer you severally I could at least post once to thank and acknowledge you all.

Everything I read in the comments impressed me - not least the fact that the occasional spark in the conversation eventually turned to light and not flame. And again, I should not be surprised that the people in my fandoms retained admirable civility in the discussion.

I agreed with many of you, including[personal profile] kerravonsen
and [personal profile] arabian , who said that unless first person is used carefully it can be difficult to read or run the risk of being, as [personal profile] arabian said, twee. And I was heartened to see how many people still write in past tense.

But I also came to understand better the reasons that many of you use present tense - for its sense of immediacy or, as[personal profile] livii mentioned, because it helps create a very stylized story. And I was enlightened to see that many of you make a conscious choice to use past or present tense in given situations, or for stories of particular lengths. It made me understand that the use of present tense is not, as I'd rather unfairly and unthinkingly considered it, a bit of a fad.

Thanks, too, for all the really astute observations: [personal profile] elisi 's, that the use of present tense might be specific to particular fandoms; lyricwrites' thought that fic-writing fandom started with television, and that TV encourages immediacy; eve11's observation that there are other literary conceits that can drive a reader to drink, such as overly creative use of single-sentence paragraphs (to which your humble scribe abashedly confesses having been addicted in the past.) I was also fascinated by viomisehunt's meditation on past and present tense as they interconnect with passive and active voice, and the continuing conversation she had with namarie24.

I learned neat things: wendymr's discovery that half of Dickens' Bleak House was written in present tense, and markiv1111's recommendation of Damon Knight's "Dio" which I shall now have to find.

Most of all, no matter whether I mentioned anyone specifically or not, I just have to say again how grateful I am to have a group of online friends and acquaintances who can hold such a wonderful conversation.

And now, one last question:

earlgreytea68 commented, "I think present tense narration is gaining traction in YA writing, and we might be seeing the influence of this trend in the newer generation of fanfic writers out there." But is it possible that the opposite might be true - that a generation of fanfic writers, or at the very least fanfic readers, might be responsible for the growth of present tense in YA writing, because they've come out of the fic-writing or reading world? Comments? Anyone? Bueller?

P.S. I tried three times to post this, and had the post eaten thrice. The fourth time appears to have been a charm, but since I began writing this two days ago, I thought I'd mention it.

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