Welcome to the third and final part of my series on tenses and POVs. You can read the other two parts here, and here. I started this series from the realization that there’s not nearly enough easily accessible information about this topic available. I’m going to wrap up this series by talking about present tense and past tense.
When deciding your pov, it’s important to not only look at your characters and their pasts, traits, and habits, but the messages you plan on telling. A reserved, hesitant protagonist might pair well with third person, while a forthcoming protagonist would be better in first. Think hard and experiment with different POVs.
Present tense, I’ve noticed, is the default choice. This doesn’t make it a bad choice, but it does require a little more caution. Make sure you’ve actually thought about it before you settle on it. It’s also nice to note that it pairs pretty naturally with first person.
It’s generally easier to write. Past tense can often get confusing or unclear on the timeline, what with past perfect and everything. This can fixed if you educate yourself on it, though.
It flows. This ties in with the last one. It’s a lot easier to make your prose flow in first person.
Everything is in the now. Your MC is feeling everything right now, no hindsight involved. This could, of course, be an advantage, but it depends on the story you’re telling.
Now, past tense is my personal favourite, along with third person. There’s just something about the way it sounds that I think fits the vibe for a lot of my stories.
In contrast, there is hindsight. This can make an especially interesting story if you pair it correctly.
It can be awkward. Like I said before, third person has a lot of little details that can take a minute to learn.