By Stephen Jay Schwartz

BOULEVARD was the first novel I’d ever written or even tried to write and after it sold and the hoopla died down I got a call from my editor who said, “Okay, now we have to figure out your story’s point of view.”

“Umm…point of view?” I said.

“Yeah, you’ve got third person close, third person omniscient and first person. It’s a bit messy. I think it wants to be third person close.”

I didn’t want to embarrass myself by saying I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. Third person close…to what? Omniscient sounded like something I understood – a narrator, like God, who knows everybody’s thoughts. And first person I knew, but didn’t really care for. But third person close?

After my hemming and hawing he figured I needed an education. He explained that third person close meant the story is written in third person, but it feels like first person. The narrator doesn’t know any more than the protagonist. Therefore, I can’t cut away to another character’s perspective, and I certainly can’t cut away to scenes that don’t include my protagonist. Unless, of course, I choose, stylistically, to incorporate chapters of third person close with alternating chapters of third person omniscient. But that has to be a conscious decision; I can’t just throw point of view around willy nilly.

My editor’s instincts were right. The story wanted to be third person close. It felt good to me. I like to keep the reader a bit in the dark, not knowing what’s coming around the corner. As my protagonist is surprised, so is the reader. So I had to go through the entire book and take out the handful of scenes that didn’t include Hayden Glass and find ways to incorporate that information into scenes that included Hayden Glass. It was difficult at first, but soon my brain eased into the process. By the time I jumped into my second novel, BEAT, I had it down. Third person close became the way to tell Hayden’s story.

And now I sit with my third novel in various stages of development. It’s a standalone, with all new characters. Its history is odd.

It began with my agent saying, “Okay, your two-book deal is over so you have to write a proposal. Why don’t you do another Hayden Glass book, but bigger. International. Like maybe he ends up in Bangkok and his addiction really gets tested.”

Bangkok? How does my LAPD detective end up in Bangkok? Well, he does go to San Francisco in BEAT. So, maybe he gets called for a special assignment, or he is required to bring back a perp who fled L.A. after committing a crime. I can work with this.

“Okay,” I said. “I can see him going international. But not Bangkok. Everyone I know is doing Bangkok. Besides, Hayden likes the blondes. I see him in Amsterdam. That’s where I’d be tested.”

“Yeah, Amsterdam! Great idea! But you should probably also have something ready in case the publisher doesn’t want to move forward with Hayden Glass.”

“Wait,” I said, “that could happen?”

“That could happen.”

So, I went to work on two book proposals. They were two very similar stories – one was a Hayden Glass novel and the other was about a young FBI agent who was made to bring back a fugitive that fled to Amsterdam. I liked both stories, but I was partial to the new one, with the FBI agent. It was a bit like The Spy Who Came in from the Cold meets 3:10 to Yuma. That became my pitch line.

I finished the proposals and handed them to my agent. He loved them both and sent the Hayden Glass one to my editor. My editor loved it and pitched his boss and…it happened. The publisher decided not to do another Hayden Glass novel.

“Okay,” I said to my agent, my voice weighted with disappointment. “Now we send him the other one, right?”

“No,” he said. “I think you should just write the other one. Write me a best-seller and I’ll take it out for bid!”

Write it? Without a contract? A spec novel, again?

I eventually got behind the idea and started doing my research. I spent a week in Amsterdam, met and interviewed lots of interesting Dutch folk, met and interviewed many interesting FBI folk, read tons of books, did interviews, etc. As I sat down to write I considered what my point of view would be for this story. I wanted to capture that same feeling of tension that existed in my other books, that sense of surprise, but I also wanted to introduce an antagonist in omniscient, in alternating chapters. I was considering going close third with these chapters, but opted against it because my protagonist assumes certain things about the antagonist and they may or may not be true. If I wrote the antagonist in close third I couldn’t avoid getting into his thought process, which would give away the truth about his character. I want this truth to be a surprise to my protagonist and to the reader.

And so I wrote the damn thing in third person close. At least the first draft. When I was done it seemed flat. I realized that, while I can write the perspective of an American lost in Amsterdam (I was that American, for a week), I had trouble writing all the other Dutch characters. They all read like American characters with Dutch names. And just about every other character in the piece had to be Dutch. I felt like I needed to spend six months getting to know the city before I could write it with any sense of authority.

So, I dropped the project and began writing a crime thriller set in L.A. and the Central Coast of California. I got a few chapters in when my wife told me I had to go back to the Amsterdam piece. She suggested I change the venue from Amsterdam to Las Vegas, which would allow me to write American characters in a town I know well (some would say too well). I returned to the Amsterdam piece, which was called TRIPLE X (the Amsterdam flag is three X’s – I’ve since changed the title, but will have to sit with it for a while to see if it works.)

Now I’m re-developing the story and rewriting it. Las Vegas serves the story just as well as Amsterdam. The venue has to be a place without rules where my protagonist feels like an outsider. While the change complicates some of the plot ideas, it also solves some of the problems I had writing an FBI agent working on his own in a foreign country. Even my FBI contacts thought it was better to keep him in America.

I rewrote the first fifty pages or so and then last week I was writing a sentence and it came out in FIRST PERSON, PRESENT TENSE.

I stared at it for a moment and thought, “Oh, shit. This feels right. Dammit.”

Now I’m back at the beginning, rewriting it in first person, present tense.

And I like the immediacy of the thing.

I mean, look at one of the lines and see if you feel the difference:

“He opened his eyes and stepped away. He kept to the balls of his feet, avoiding the things that might be collected as evidence.”


“I open my eyes and step away. Keeping to the balls of my feet, avoiding the things that might be collected as evidence.”

Or –

“Bill caught his attention from the door. He seemed disappointed, as if Hoffman’s presence in the crime scene reflected poorly on his judgement.”


“Bill catches my attention from the door. He seems disappointed, as if my presence in the crime scene reflects poorly on his judgement.”

I feel like I’m right with the character, walking in his footsteps.

Present tense basically tells the reader that things aren’t necessarily going to be okay in the end. I mean, we don’t know how this is going to end, do we? It’s happening right now. Past tense tends to infer that things turned out well – after all, I’m telling you what happened, aren’t I? So, if it’s in the past then my character must have made it out alive.

Past tense seems so 2008.

It might seem strange for some to write in present tense, but it doesn’t feel odd to me. Screenplays are written in present tense, and I’ve written more screenplays than novels. It’s the first person thing that I need to get used to. Now I’m really in my character’s head. And all the things that go on are subject to the mental state he’s in. To me, that’s interesting. I don’t know why I’ve always preferred reading third person to first person – maybe being in a character’s head seemed too daunting. What if the character is crazy? How do I deal with this as a reader? Exactly.

And some of my favorite books are written in first person – John Fowles’ The Collector, Nabokov’s Lolita, Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me. All deal with the paranoia of unreliable narrators. I kinda dig that. I like presenting my protagonist’s tweaked view of the world as truth, then forcing him (and the reader) to witness the real truth as the world unravels around him. To see and feel it as he sees and feels it. That excites me.

We’ll see if it sticks. I might get two hundred pages in and realize I have to experiment with yet another point of view to make it work. Who knows? It’s a journey, right?

Now I know why people write sequels. A lot of the hard stuff has already been done. I’m looking forward to writing the next Hayden Glass novel, which I’ll jump into as soon as I finish this standalone. I’ll probably publish it as an ebook, the way Brett Battles now does with his Jonathan Quinn series. That way it will publish quickly. Hell, that way it will publish at all.

So Hayden might still end up in Amsterdam. I’ll tell you what I know – when he gets there, he’ll be in third person close.

37 thoughts on “POINT OF VIEW

  1. Phillip Thomas Duck

    Great post, Stephen. Choices, choices, choices. Decisions, decisions, decisions. I can feel you, though. After writing in First for so long, with my recent I'm attempting Third. It feels natural to the story, if not to me, and that's the way it has to go. Slave to the story. Best of luck to you.

  2. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Stephen

    Great post. My Charlie Fox series is written in first person, past tense, but the supernatural standalone I've just finished is in multiple viewpoint close third, and I have a feeling the first of the trilogy, which is the next project, may well come out in present tense. Fun to play around with all this stuff, isn't it?

  3. billie hinton

    I love first person present – my first novel is written that way and it took me awhile to come out of that when I started the second book. Which ended up being written in every POV and tense there is, as I tried to find its right voice. Which ended up being worth about two MFA degrees – you begin to see what you can do with a story when you translate it into every POV and then bring in other characters to that exercise.

    I use first person present constantly when I get stuck in a work in progress – it's the absolute best for getting deep into a scene and writing right through a stuck place. 🙂

  4. Alexandra Sokoloff

    This is a good reminder that I'm going to have to make this decision with my new series. The first one alternates between third person close, past, for one character and third person close present for the other.

    I'm not sure if I'm going to do that again or do alternating POVs in third person close past. I may not know until the second draft.

  5. Sarah W

    Thanks for the explanation and also for sharing your Dammit moment (I'm not alone!).

    I'm seeing many more first person, present tense novels lately–am I wrong in seeing a parallel in our culture's current need for personal immediacy and gripping tension? Not that that's a *bad* thing!

  6. Richard Maguire

    Stephen, this is just my own peculiarity. As a reader, present tense always throws me. No matter how good the plot is, I have a problem suspending my disbelief so I can enjoy the story.

    If you write, "He gets up from the chair" – WHEN is he supposed to be doing this? Is it right now? Which is exactly how it sounds. And that's what throws me. I can't settle down with the story.
    Whereas with past tense, in either first-person or third, we're gathered round the camp fire
    listening to the Storyteller. We're enthralled by what HAPPENED.

  7. Timothy Hallinan

    Present tense rocks, Stephen. (But so does past.) I'm currently writing my sixth book in present tense, and you put your finger on what I love about it–its immediacy. With past tense, you always have the sense that someone came through to tell the story, whereas with present, there are no guarantees. Also, let's face it, we live in present tense. Our internal monologue is not, "I have just come down the stairs"; we come down the stairs one at a time, being somewhat careful about where we put our feet. We don't think, "I saw someone step out in front of the car," because if we did, we'd have an accident. Meaning no disrespect to Richard, I don't understand readers who can't get around the tense a story is written in; novels are such complicated animals, with so many interlocking components, it seems kind of rigid not to be able to get past what is essentially just a storytelling convention, "Once upon a time," and read a story that says, "Right now."

    Also, action sequences are just greased in present tense.

  8. Alexandra Sokoloff

    I don't notice tense at all when I read a book, I have to force myself at the beginning of a book to pay attention.

    I am not a big fan of first person, though, never have been. It takes a really good writer to make me read first person.

  9. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Philip – I couldn't agree more about how the story dictates the style. I remember when I was making a film in film school and I had this very long shot of a man walking around his room, looking into the mirror, picking up the bottle of pills that would end his life, putting it down, looking into the mirror again…and one of my producers suggested that the shot was too long and should be broken up. I thought for a moment, then said, "No, the shot needs to be as long as it needs to tell the story." That particular story needed that particular shot. I think it translates to writing and writing style, too.

    Zoe – I agree that it's fun to play around with all this stuff, but it's more fun to FINISH the fucking things. Here's a fun comment I like to make, one which includes past and present tense, by the way: "I don't love writing. I love having written."

  10. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    billie – it's interesting, that's exactly how I used first person present initially. I was stuck in the Amsterdam version of the story and I used it to break free. It allowed me to get inside my protagonist's head. I used it for a couple chapters then went back to third close, past tense. I was real surprised when it came back and felt like the way to go with the story.

    Alex – Strange that I also never liked reading first person, not until a few years ago when I read The Killer Inside Me. Almost all of Jim Thompson's books are written in first person, and he does a great job of it. Then I went back and looked at the other first person books I loved, like The Collector, and saw what great things could be done with it. I think it's real challenging, however, to write it. It adds another layer of complication to the story you're telling. It makes the story a chess game. It begs the question, how do I tell the real story and also tell the story the way my protagonist perceives it? It's an art, and I hope I can rise to the occasion.

  11. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Sarah – I think there is a trend in first person present tense. I think that's why I tried to avoid it for a time. But, as I mentioned to Philip above, the story dictates the style. And I think this is the right one for my story. I may be wrong. I might play with this and even publish it this way, then never return to it again. However, if the book does well I'll probably return to the same style for sequels.

    Richard – I get your point – it's the same thing that made me reticent about plunging into present tense. It's not the way stories have been told traditionally, around the campfire, that is. But it is the way theater has been presented – the action unfolds in front of us, in real time. It's an interesting intersection between story-telling and theater, isn't it?

  12. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Tim – oh, man, I just re-wrote this action sequence last night, changing it from past to present tense, and it kicked-ass! So much changed in the process – sentences re-wrote themselves because the immediacy of the moment took them where they needed to go. It was fun to write. Another reason I avoided present tense was that I'd written so many screenplays and I was trying to find my "novelist" voice, so that my books wouldn't look like expanded screenplays. I have a screenwriter friend who recently sent me pages from his first novel, which is written in present tense. It still felt like a screenplay. I immediately suggested he rewrite the pages in past tense, just to separate himself from his comfort zone for writing screenplays. He tells me it has helped a lot. That's what I had to do when I went from screenplays to novels – I had to force myself to think in past tense. I'm glad I feel comfortable enough to try some new things now.

  13. Richard Maguire

    Yes, Stephen. The action in a play unfolds before our eyes. It works because we make a bargain with the actors to willingly suspend our disbelief in what's happening onstage. It's one of the reasons I love theater – anything is possible.

    "I don't understand readers who can't get around the tense a story is written in." Timothy Hallinan

    Fine. My problem. Obviously I'm stupid and have made an idiot of myself in the eyes of a successful author. So be it. But any comment prefaced by "Meaning no disrespect" says it all.

  14. lil Gluckstern

    I'll just be part of your cheering section, and look forward to anything you write. And, yes, by all means, go the e book route. It's working for a lot of good writers. And I'll be happy to support you on that 🙂

  15. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    lil – thanks! And I definitely need that cheering section. To get me to the finishing line!

  16. Timothy Hallinan

    Richard — I really and truly did mean there was no disrespect intended, but now that I read your response I realize it sounded like a variation of "With all due respect," which is always used to preface a remark that contains no respect whatsoever.

    My statement was literally true — I don't understand the reaction. That doesn't mean I think people who have the reaction are in any way wanting, inferior, stupid, whatever. It's only an aesthetic reaction, and it's one I just personally don't understand. There are undoubtedly people who disagree with my stand that I won't listen to any music that's atonal and I won't go to movies that star Angelina Jolie. I would hope that they don't evaluate me entirely on those preferences.

    I might also be just the weensiest bit touchy about this because I hear it all the time, and having written approximately 100,000 sentences in present tense it makes me nervous. But I did literally, completely, and honestly mean no disrespect to you nor was I attempting to measure you on any scale whatsoever. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that anyone who reads Stephen has GOT to be a discerning reader.

  17. Sheri Hart

    I'm one of those odd present-tense avoiders, though I'm trying to be more open-minded (as a reader, I mean).

    As a writer, I can see how present tense might be useful during my fast-drafting process. It could really help put me in my characters' heads and tell the story like I see it in my head without getting too bogged down in backstory, etc.

    Back to reading . . . I find the opposite of what some of you are saying. I find present tense actually makes me MORE aware of the author/storyteller than past tense. A story written in past tense is like a found thing. It is out there for me to discover and interpret in my own way. It is WRITTEN. LOL.

    A present tense story might have more immediacy–it's happening now–but that means someone must be telling it to me still. If it's first person present, I'm okay with it, because the character is telling me what he sees/does. But if it's close third present, then the author has really insinuated himself into things for me.

    I don't think I explained that very well. 🙂

  18. Timothy Hallinan

    Sheri, at the risk of alienating someone else, I think that past tense feels natural to us as readers primarily because we're used to it. (I know, that might be a good reason not to use it.) But I don't think it's necessarily any more alienating that, say, a film with subtitles; it might feel cumbersome at first, but if the story and the characters engage us, we (I, anyway) stop being conscious of them. I actually have memories of line readings from some films ("Smiles of a Summer Night" heads the list) that I didn't hear in English at all — but I remember them that way.

    Anyway, ultimately I guess it's a matter of personal taste and it's probably as useless to try to convert people as it would be to persuade chocolate lovers that vanilla is better or to get a cat owner to trade Fluffy in for a dog.

  19. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Once I get into reading a book in present tense I forget all about the tense. If the story is well-told, it just takes me. Anyone ever read Mcinerney's BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY? Told in SECOND PERSON, present tense. It worked for me. It read like first person — that's how my brain interpreted it.

  20. Richard Maguire

    Timothy, thanks. And at least we agree on something. I, too, avoid movies starring Angelina Jolie.

  21. David Corbett

    Angelina Jolie — what tense are we talking here?

    I'm going to be a complete stinker here and say the real issue isn't POV or tense, but voice, and whichever choice allows you to discover the most genuine, interesting and engaging voice is the one to go for.

    (That said, my editor at Penguin confessed that, whenever they're considering a novel, they always ask: Could we make this first person? The reason: immediacy.)

    I'm going to join Richard and Sheri and admit present tense feels contrived to me. "Arty" in the MFA sense. And yet Don Winslow's SAVAGES is written in present tense and I dug it mucho.

    As for BRIGHT LIGHTS, second person is in reality a kind of stealth first person. I think of it as "alienated first person."

    The real tight-wire artists go first person plural: Jeffrey Eugenides in THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, Kate Walbert in OUR KIND, or Faulkner in "A Rose for Emily."

    I personally prefer multiple close third person. It feels natural to me. but the key for me is always how to capture the character's voice, so that the dialog and narrative feel intimate to the character. That's how I recapture some of the immediacy of first person.

    But when I want a real challenge I turn to the objective mode (no subjective states — thoughts or feelings, etc.). Hard not to fall into faux Hemingway or Hammett, and yet it's a real eye-opener on how much emotion you can convey through dialog and action alone. This is old news for screenwriters and playwrights, but a great discipline for novelists.

  22. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Not so old for screenwriters, David. I think screenwriters tend to be the least versed in any of this. Their references tend to be other movies or TV shows and don't get into the kind of depth we're discussing here. Take me for instance – I wrote ten feature screenplays before I wrote my first novel and I didn't know what the hell third person close was.

    Thank you for jumping in here. I'm always amazed by how much I learn whenever I read your words on a page. Now, why did you have to go and tell me about the subjective mode? Really, now I'll have to go through my entire novel again and rewrite it. Damn you, Corbett.

    I agree with your very perceptive comment – it's really about voice. That's what captures us. If that's there, the rest falls into place.

  23. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't catch that you were referring to the use of dialogue and action in your statement about screenwriters and playwrights. In which case, yes, I agree.

  24. Lisa Alber

    I'm open to reading and writing in any tense. For the reading: if it's done well I don't notice it. For the writing, if it feels right, it feels right, just like you mentioned. Sometimes I have a problem with novels that switch between first and third though — gotta be a good reason for it or I get annoyed. Just read one of those Scandinavian crime novels, THE HYPONIST. Multiple third, okay. Then, smack in the middle of it a huge section–I'm talking at least a quarter of the long novel–in first person from the hypnotist's POV. Huh? There was no logical segue in, no warning, no nothing. And then, after the huge backstory tale was complete, boom, back to multiple third. Needless to say, so didn't work for me. It was the most sorry way to get in backstory that I've seen in awhile.

    David, THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, yes! Blew me away. Just finished reading a first person plural novel called, THE WEIRD SISTERS. It didn't work as well. I can't remember, did Eugenides remain in first plural 100% of the time? Because this novel went in and out of first third–the "we" being the three weird sisters–and multiple thirds from the sister's individual POVs. It read this way, at least. If she didn't mean it too, then she lost track of her third-plural voice big time.

  25. David Corbett

    Lisa: VIRGIN SUICIDES remains first person plural throughout. It's again a kind of stealth first person, with one of the group speaking for the "we." it establishes a very unique tone, and I think switching out of that would feel forced.

    Stephen: Don't get too hung up on subjective/objective. I tend to think of it in terms of how close the camera is to the character — assuming the camera can also access thoughts and feelings — and you can move in and out, as long as you don't jump around. Transitions need to be subtly handled. And you can have an objective mode and still explore thoughts and feelings, they're just handled as though they're being observed or evaluated rather than experienced. Again, Hammett and Hemingway are the classic guys to learn from, but so is Joan Didion, who was brilliant at the cool detached narrative voice that could suddenly slice to the bone.

  26. Reine

    Godly interesting, Stephen. I love present tense. As long as the story is up to it, as I am absolutely certain that yours is. Something about the immediacy of now with the ever-hovering future, lurking and skulking nearby.

  27. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    David – so THAT'S what I like so much about Joan Didion! And Hemmingway for that matter, and Amy Hempel. The minimalism extends to the emotion, not just the descriptions. I tend to write towards that objective mode, but my wife pulls me back to fill in my protagonist's feelings. Something about the objective mode makes her feel it's incomplete. How about Fight Club? I know it's minimalist, but is it objective as opposed to subjective? Or have you read it?

  28. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Reine – thank you for joining the cheer-leading section! I'm hoping I'm up to the task!

  29. Lisa Alber

    David, I'd forgotten that the "we" is one character speaking for them all. It worked for me. I just realized, then, why the third plural didn't work in THE WEIRD SISTERS–more like stealth omniscient, in which case I say: why not just use omniscient?

  30. David Corbett

    Stephen: Haven't read FIGHT CLUB, sad to say.

    Lisa: I agree.

    Running out the door. Great discussion, Stephen. Best of luck with the new approach. You know the drill: If it's working, it's working.

  31. KDJames

    Damn, Stephen. Probably I shouldn't admit this, but this kind of conversation makes me crazy. It's like defining parts of speech, something I failed at miserably in eighth grade English class. I do pretty well with nouns and verbs, they're easy, but go much beyond that and I'm just fucking lost. Adjectives? Prepositions? Subjunctive clauses? Suppositories? I'm fine with usage, not so much with definition.

    Same thing with POV. I know what it is and why it's important and how to use it, but don't make me try to explain or rationalize it. Or come up with a definition.

    I agree with what David said about stories finding their own voice (unless I misunderstood, which is likely). I wrote a short flash fiction thing a while back (it's here if anyone cares to examine it: http://kdjames.com/2011/03/19/the-most-ridiculous-thing-ive-ever-written/ ) (and it truly IS ridiculous, so you've been warned) and I didn't realize until after it was done that it was the first thing I'd ever written in first person. Yes, ever. I didn’t consciously make that decision — it just fit the story. It was the voice I heard. And honestly, looking at it now, I couldn't tell you whether it's past or present tense. Nor do I care. It is what it is. And it's the only way I could have written that story.

    Regardless of my personal prejudice against examining this stuff too closely (we just won't talk about my personal inability to comprehend it), I'm delighted you're experimenting and sincerely hope you've now found the right voice for your story. Because I'm waiting to read it. Patiently. [ahem] Yes, I do believe I am being extremely fucking patient. I'm pretty sure that's first person urgent. And tense.

  32. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    KD – you cracked me up with your comment. I feel your patience or, uh, your tension. I'm right there with you, babe.
    And, by the way, I was forced into understanding all this point of view and past/present stuff. Had to figure it out or the book wouldn't have been published.
    But ask me to define a dangling participle….who the fuck cares. Thank God for copy editors.

  33. Martyn Waites

    Here I am, late to the party as usual, but that's a fantastic post, Stephen. I've often tried to mess around with tenses while writing, usually sticking to a third person close but shapeshifting into individual characters' minds during the narrative. When I'm editing these sections, most of my time is spent shifting the tenses around to get the voice (filtered though it may be) coming out right.

    I agree with you that first person present works for the immediacy but I've never tried it myself for any sustained piece of work. Maybe I'll give it a go. I do hate second person, though. I used to freelance for a literary consultancy and one of the novels I worked on was written that way. It might have worked if the writer had got the rest of it right but it seemed like a gimmick to cover over the fact that nothing else in the novel worked.

    And David's right, as usual. If the voice is right, whatever you decide will be right too. It sounds like a great book. Let me know when it's coming out.

  34. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Martyn – oh, you bet you'll know when it's coming out. I'll ring the bell loudly!
    Thanks for chiming in and for the support.
    And you're right…David's always right, isn't he?

  35. PD Martin

    Even later to the party! Tense and POV are always interesting topics. They're also something I find myself talking about a lot when teaching. Most new writers mix and match and try to go into omniscient but don't quite pull it off – IMHO!

    My Sophie books are first person, present tense. I had a few people who specifically said things like: "I've heard great things about your books but then realised they were first person [or present tense] and decided not to buy it." It seems for some people, it actually makes them decide NOT to buy or read a book. Having said that, I love first person present tense — as you say, for the immediacy. And lots of readers do, too!

    Many readers won't even notice – they're just along for the ride 🙂


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