Reading Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake for my book club, I realized that my manuscript needs the narrative present.
Narrative present (or historical present), is basically what it sounds like: instead of telling a story in the past tense, you write it in the present.
Heathcliff felt discouraged as he walked to the store.
Heathcliff feels discouraged as he walks to the store.
(No, my manuscript does not contain a character named Heathcliff.)
There are important pros and cons to the narrative present, and some have complained that it has been overused in recent years. But it hadn’t even occurred to me to use it until reading Atwood. Continue reading