I've recently started trying my hand at some fiction writing for the first time. Already I reckon there are a lot of people out there that would say that I shouldn't be thinking about present tense if I'm so new and that I should learn past tense first, however, I'm just doing this as an exercise for now so please forgive my decision. I have read people saying present tense is terrible, it's incredibly hard to do well and that it sticks out like a sore thumb when you're doing it poorly(which I think is actually a boon, it's easy to put down bad writing, It's nice when that bad writing sticks out!) what I am struggling to find is a collection of excerpts that show the pinnacle of present tense. I want to read some excellent examples, I want to see the figures of rhetoric put to good use, but I can't seem to find any. I'm sure I could find some if I was to read through some of the popular present tense books out there but I don't really have time at the moment...
Please share some of your favourite examples and tips for present tense fiction so that I can learn to recognise it!
So far I find what little I have written flows well enough but doesn't seem especially beautiful or interesting. Before I write any further I want to study a few excerpts and have a go at getting the first section decent.
Your guidance is appreciated!
One thing I have noticed is that I seem to end up writing lines that read like an old text adventure game. And I also find myself writing he says she says type stuff, having to correct myself and make it more appealing. It seems more to do with my amateur status than the inclinations of a present tense writer, but I can't be sure. For example, I might( without thinking ) write something like "he carries the heavy sack to the table" when I would rather write something like "carrying the heavy sack he lays it on the table" if you catch my drift.
I also find that my writing when in the present tense naturally becomes very heavy in dialogue. I think that it could just be the format of the story I started writing as my first exercise, but it is indeed dialogue heavy. I quite like that the interruptions in dialogue feel more natural in present tense, for example, I can just break off into another character speaking and it seems natural to me, whereas if it was past tense I would feel like it was ill-considered if they are just interrupting the text midline with an ellipse. "I can't believe you would say..." "well what else would I think? You're acting like a damned fool of late!" etc. Seems natural to me in present tense but if I read something like that in the context of a past tense peace, then I would think it was a little off. You wouldn't find that in someone's journal for example... it feels like the narrator should have taken into consideration the coming interjection and written around that in some way. But in present tense, it feels - to me at least - more like you're breathing life into the page whenever you read it. I find it seems reasonable to have interjections of this ilk, even when it is not directly narrated.
What are your thoughts on this?