by Tim Kane
Pick up a Young Adult book these days and you’ll a trend in the writing style. Quite a few of these tomes are writing in present tense. The question is why?
Most of the readers of Young Adult are teenagers. You shouldn’t be surprised. This is who they were written for. (Big secret, the second biggest readers of Young Adult fiction are adults.) Teens, however, have a unique modern viewpoint. They’ve grown up in the Internet age. Specifically, social networks.
Peruse your typical social network: Facebook, Twitter, Google+. Most of the posts and updates are written in present tense. Why not. These updates are written in real time via smartphones. It’s almost like stream of consciousness in tiny 140 character packets (more if you’re not Tweeting).
The teens spend their time tweeting and posting, all in present tense. They’re used to people saying “I’m running” versus “I ran.” They want the same thing in their fiction.
Interestingly writing (and reading) in present tense creates a sense of immediacy for the protagonist. Everything’s happening right now. It also allows stream of consciousness thoughts. The king of random thinking kids do all the time.
So, if you indent to pen the next great YA novel, try starting off in present tense. If you don’t like it, you can always switch back. However, creating in present tense allows you to reap the benefits of everything happening in real time.