A TeePee and a Wigwam

You’ve probably heard the old joke:

A guy goes to a doctor and says, “I keep having the same dreams. First I’m a teepee, then I’m a wigwam. What does it mean, doc?”

The doctor says, “You’re two tents.”

Yeah, I know. Groans everywhere. Especially since I’m writing about a whole different tense today.

Present tense. In fiction. It drives me nuts.

(It especially drives me nuts in a first-person narrative, but that’s a whole other blog. Last week’s, in fact.)

You’ve seen it:

He gets out of the car and looks around. No one’s out on the street–no cars, no pedestrians hurrying down the sidewalk. Except for the dog who’s trailing a scent into the alley, he’s alone. He walks into the store and the bell rings. It takes a while for the clerk to appear. “What can I help you with?” she asks.

I’ll tell stories in person in present tense, but it just strikes me as so, so wrong for books. I might just be old-fashioned or old-school or old-something, but to me, a story at its very base is a telling of something that happened. Happened, not happening as it’s told. And I want it told in past-tense. I’ve never read a present-tense book that I didn’t sincerely think suffered for the method of its telling.

Though, truth be told, I never finished a present-tense book.

Do you like it, hate it, don’t care as long as the story interests you?