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Point of View and Tense Preferences?


Thirdly

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Just this week alone, I've read three different stories in three point of views: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. All of them were well-written and enjoyable. 

I've also read well-written stories in past tense and written in present tense. 

 

  1. What is your favorite point of view and favorite tense to write and why?
  2. What is your favorite point of view and favorite tense to read and why?

 

The POV(point of view) I've always been more comfortable writing has always been 3rd person POV both in my personal work and when writing with others. To me, it's still challenging to write in 1st person, but I'm inspired to keep trying by a friend that enjoys reading 1st person POV stories (likely due to the more direct peek into the main character's emotions and thoughts). I also personally prefer to read 1st or 3rd person POV over 2nd person POV unless I am playing an RPG (roleplaying game) on a console or reading a playscript. 

 

I also prefer to read past tense than present tense only due to familiarity, as most of the books I read in childhood were written in past tense. I've yet to read a story in future tense, but I'd probably still default to past tense. 

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To be completely honest, quite often the POV and tense just come out naturally when I begin writing.  I’ll start typing, and it either works or it doesn’t.  If it doesn’t work, I scrap it or try another way.  But when it flows, that’s what I stick with.

 

I enjoy writing in both first and third.  I find that stories with multiple POV characters always work better in third person for me, as it makes it much more clear for both myself and the reader.

 

I have yet to write a full story in second person.  I’ve dabbled a little, but it hasn’t produced a completed work.  I think something like that requires a certain subject type and/or certain plot.  I’ve read pieces before that have been in the second person, and it’s always been a hard style for me to get into.

 

Besides that, I have no real preference for reading in first or third.  As long as it’s consistent and well-written, I have no qualms either way.  (Although I have read works in which the POV and/or tense have changed periodically throughout - that is an easy way to lose your reader, both to confusion and from finishing the piece.)

Edited by Disjecta Membra
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I'm comfortable writing in either first or third person POV and generally use past tense.  As far as reading, I prefer first or third person and have no preference for tense, as long as it's well-written.  I'm not a fan of second person POV.  It's extremely difficult to write well and I've only come across one story in second person written well enough for me to actually finish reading it.  

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7 hours ago, Disjecta Membra said:

(Although I have read works in which the POV and/or tense have changed periodically throughout - that is an easy way to lose your reader, both to confusion and from finishing the piece.)

Those are rookie mistakes even I have made in the past, switching between POVs and/or tenses in the same story. And I agree that, with a bigger cast of characters, third person’s easier to write.

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6 hours ago, Valkyrie said:

 I'm not a fan of second person POV.  It's extremely difficult to write well and I've only come across one story in second person written well enough for me to actually finish reading it.  

A plethora of ‘choose your own adventure’ story apps written in second person exist these days. The stories may be engaging, but it still feels too ‘gamey’ to me to really get absorbed into the tale.

Edited by Thirdly
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11 hours ago, Daddydavek said:

My preference is that it is clear and consistent as possible.  Having said that, unless the story draws me in either through the characters or the plot, it won't matter.  

I have nothing to add to that nor do I refute it. :lol:

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As a writer, I have only ever written in first or third person POV. I concur with @Disjecta Membrawhen he says that the decision which to use comes about naturally once I begin actually writing the story. As far as I can tell, there is nothing about any particular story I write that makes me decide which POV would be best for it (although there could well be something at work in my subconscious mind that makes me decide).

 

I've never tried writing in second person POV, because it sort of feels false to me, if that makes any sense. That's not to say that I mightn't try doing so one of these days; but it's very unlikely.

 

As a reader, as long as the story is well written and grabs my attention, I am quite happy to read stories written in either first or third person POV. I have never read a story written in second person POV that I have really liked. Perhaps that's because I expect a story to tell me about what is happening to someone else: either the narrator (if it's first person POV) or the protagonist (if it's third person). It just doesn't seem to make sense to me to read a story that is telling me what is happening to me (second person POV).

 

I don't usually like stories that switch POV. I often find them confusing, to say the least. Some can be even downright annoying as well - particularly the ones that seem to change from one character's POV to another's almost every alternate chapter, often repeating what happened in the previous one from the other character's POV. This may be unkind of me to say, but those sort of stories usually leave me feeling that the author just hasn't mastered the craft of storytelling.

 

I don't mind (particularly in a longer story) an occasional look inside the mind of one of the other characters. This may help to paint a picture in the reader's head of why a certain thing is happening. It's a technique I have employed myself in the past. But I think it's something that should be used very sparingly, if at all.

 

As for tense, I normally write stories in the past tense (and use past or present in poetry - depending on the poem). I don't think I have even considered writing a story (except for maybe the occasional "flash" story) in the present tense since I was in primary school. Perhaps that means that I consider present tense stories as being for children and so, were I to try writing for very young children, I might consider writing in the present tense.

 

I don't even think it is possible for me to write a (readable) story in the future tense. A story set in the future? Maybe. But written in the future tense? (I doubt if I would read one, either.)

 

I do find it off-putting when a story will incorrectly switch from past to present tense (or visa versa) and then back again. It shows me that the author has not edited what s/he has written. If a story is worth writing, it needs to be written in a way that  will keep me reading it. Simple errors in tense should have been corrected before publishing.

 

What I sometimes find difficulty with when writing is always using the pluperfect tense correctly (describing things that happened in the past before the point that I am describing). This can sometimes almost leave me with a mild headache when I am editing some of my work.

 

Edited by Marty
Tidying up
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I write in both past and present tense, in both first and third person point of view. I usually don't write first person present, but it does happen. I like the sense of urgency it brings to a story. It can suit erotica very well. I'm also more likely to write present tense when I write short stories, and past tense when I write novels. As I said, present adds a sense of urgency, puts you in the moment, and I think that can be really great for short stories. I think it can sometimes become a bit overwhelming in a novel, though. These aren't rules, however, and I love to experiment. In the end, which tense I use is mostly determined by how the story manifests in my head as I begin writing it. I've never written in future tense, I can't actually see that working very well, though I have used it as a tool in present, such as this little bit from one of the stories in my Jacob and Marcus Tales:

 

Spoiler

They hide behind a dumpster, and Jacob enjoys the feeling of Michael’s large hands in his hair. He refuses Michael’s offer of reciprocation, hops on his bicycle and goes home. He and Michael won’t speak again until years later when they will have an ill advised one night stand. The fantasy is better than the reality will be.

 

As a reader, I'm not picky, as long as the writer is consistent. As Marty says, when a writer jumps back and forth for no discernible reason, it's just really off-putting. Can't say I've ever read anything written in future tense, though. I have, however, read second person, though it hasn't really been pure second; from an 'I' person to a 'you' person, so kind of mixed first and second, I guess? @MacGreg's The Process of Learning is written that way, in present tense, and it works really, really well. I think it's probably hard to pull off. Might be worth trying as a writing exercise one day, though. I've only ever done it in poetry and song lyrics, which is something completely different, I think.

 

EDIT: I should add that I always write in third person limited when I write third. Point of view will only ever shift between scenes, and other characters' thoughts are never revealed. 

Edited by Thorn Wilde
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3 hours ago, Marty said:

I don't even think it is possible for me to write a (readable) story in the future tense. A story set in the future? Maybe. But written in the future tense? (I doubt if I would read one, either.)

 

The only thing I can think of that can think of that is written in "future tense" is someone reading a prophecy (or maybe a poem?) aloud. Even the book of Revelations is in past tense, I just looked. 

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1 hour ago, Thorn Wilde said:

 As I said, present adds a sense of urgency, puts you in the moment, and I think that can be really great for short stories.

 

Yeah, different types and styles are better suited to one form or another in stories. And you already know why I'm poking about to see what different opinions are. :lol: That one MC...

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I don't plan stories. (hangs head in shame) I get an idea, write and see what happens. First person, third person, whatever tense, *shrugs* I ever wrote one story in second person and not in English. My English is not good enough for second person I guess. I'm not feeling comfortable at least. 

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I have one story, where I change POV between chapters (my first line prompt based story), but otherwise I tend to write 3rd person POV, although I have one longer story which is 1st person POV.

Past tense is my usual mode, I have one story (not posted here) where I occasionally shifted into present tense deliberately as a way of giving more urgency to situations. As an editor I always point out if the verb tense is inconsistent.

Edited by Timothy M.
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As a writer, I tend to stick to third person limited pov and past tense. I have tried first person pov before, but as the comments on that particular story show, it didn't work out as I planned. 

 

As a reader, I dislike reading first person, present tense. I find it doesn't flow right for me and I feel myself correcting it to past tense in my head all the time which takes away from my enjoyment of the story. 

 

3 hours ago, Timothy M. said:

As an editor I always point out if the verb tense is inconsistent.

1

 

I can attest to this :yes: 

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17 hours ago, aditus said:

I don't plan stories. (hangs head in shame) I get an idea, write and see what happens. First person, third person, whatever tense, *shrugs* I even wrote one story in second person and not in English. My English is not good enough for second person I guess. I'm not feeling comfortable at least. 

 

I grew up reading Spanglish. Your English is good enough for anything and your talent is amazing. If you sold your tales on amazon, I'd tell you to hush and just take my money. 

Edited by Thirdly
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10 hours ago, Caz Pedroso said:

As a reader, I dislike reading first person, present tense. I find it doesn't flow right for me and I feel myself correcting it to past tense in my head all the time which takes away from my enjoyment of the story. 

 

I know how you feel. But, once I start reading something, I'm gonna finish it no matter what. Oh man, as a kid I would read stories that were part of a bigger series (somewhere in the middle of the series) and have no clue what was going on.

Edited by Thirdly
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I write and prefer to read in the third person.  When I write it's in third person limited.

 

I did an experimental stint with first-person writing.  That work was, ah, a learning experience.

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I don't really have a preference when it comes as a reader. Past/Present, First/Second/Third, it's all good to me.

 

As a writer, give me 3rd-person omnisentient deep PoV any day. I've found I mix my tenses up, and my editing team helps me fix it. Overall my preference to write in is Past, but I want to try a 3rd/Present at least once.

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1 hour ago, Wayne Gray said:

I did an experimental stint with first-person writing.  That work was, ah, a learning experience.

 

I've written a total of three stories in first person thus far and it's still a learning experience.

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51 minutes ago, BHopper2 said:

I've found I mix my tenses up, and my editing team helps me fix it. Overall my preference to write in is Past, but I want to try a 3rd/Present at least once.

 

I used to write in 3rd/present. I think the very first thing I ever wrote was in 3rd/present. I found it not too long ago. The whole thing reads like a playscript. On the bright side, I did not mix up my tenses. :lol: Not bad, 17 year old me. 

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