November 4, 2012
You know what you’re going to write. You know who you’re writing it for. You know who is doing the writing. You still have to decide “when”.
What tense are you writing your book in?
I’ve gone back and forth on that over the years. For the most part, now I write in the present tense.
It can be a bit goofy to talk about “right now” when you will have written the book a long time before your readers read it. But the immediacy and the ease of the pace will more than make up for it.
You won’t need to use phrases like “will have written”. You won’t have to place a conditional in front of everything.
Simplify your prose.
My sister is my favorite editor. She takes my tortured phrases like “Next, we’ll look at creating a new project” with this “Next, we create a new project”. She’ll then drive the prose to “Next, let’s create a new project” or “Next, create a new project”.
By the time she’s done with my draft there are a lot fewer words and what remains is much more clear.
Choose a tense and a voice that makes it easier for your readers to read what you’ve written without being aware of the work you put in to writing it.