Flash Fiction Challenge: The Present Tense

(Last week’s challenge, “Random Photo Story,” says, “Come look at my entries! They’re super!”)

So, maybe you saw an article on io9 yesterday — “10 Writing ‘Rules’ We Wish More Sci-Fi And Fantasy Authors Would Break.” It’s a very cool article. And I pretty much agree with all of it. In fact, BLACKBIRDS (which gets its first official review right here!) features a potentially unsympathetic character (though I love her dearly) and is written entirely in the present tense.

Now, for this challenge, I’m scraping all that away and saying —

Write a piece of flash fiction, 1000 words or less, in the present tense.

Doesn’t matter if it’s sci-fi or fantasy. I’m not asking you to write an unsympathetic character that yet remains compelling (aka livable over likable) — no, that’ll be a separate challenge.

Why do I love the present tense? It feels fast. Urgent. In the moment. It feels like you’re telling a story that’s evolving as the reader reads it as opposed to a story whose events have come and gone.

I am a big fan.

So, do that with your story this week.

Write whatever you want. Whatever genre, whatever character, whatever story.

As long as it’s in the present tense.

Post your stories at your site and drop a link into the comments here so we can come read ’em.

You’ve got a week.

I’ll see you back here on Friday, February 3rd, by noon EST.

67 responses to “Flash Fiction Challenge: The Present Tense”

  1. Dude, I rewrote my whole first novel, changing the POV from 3rd to 1st person and from past to present tense. Now I pretty much write in present tense–your take on the immediacy of it is right on target.

    Thankfully, I mostly write YA, so present tense is pretty well accepted.

    If I get to the flash fiction, I’ll comment again. I’m finishing up a novel for ABNA right now… and it has to come first.

  2. There’s a rule that says you can’t write in present tense? Really? I’ve never heard that. I mean I’ve noticed that present tense is a little tricky and it may not be right for every story, but a “rule” against it? Color me flabbergasted.

  3. Weirdly enough, I find present tense more author-intrusive than past tense. Keeps the reader at arm’s length. There are always exceptions, of course, and dropping into present tense for certain key scenes can be effective and transparent.

  4. Cheryl – nicely done story, a blend of present and past tense. I got to the end and had this sneaking suspicion he was burying a body – spooky. Working on mine now.
    BTW – Was going to comment on Fictionaut but not a member there.

  5. I wrote my whole first novel, Watcher, in first person present ( as well as a few other pieces).

    Maybe I should use an excerpt from that. 1000 words, huh? Let me see what I can come up with…

  6. I write pretty much exclusively in present tense and almost always in the first person (the only decent suggestion I got from a now defunct, drama-afflicted, what was I thinking writing group). I love it. I feel it gives me writing a certain edge and really helps me get into the character’s heads.

    I’m totally cheating on the challenge this week posting something that was already written and a piece that is actually the first chapter of a longer piece (first version of a novel that I’ve been posting as a serial on my blog). As a stand alone, probably more of a character sketch than a story as such, but what the hell.
    And if you like it, there’s PLENTY more.
    Also, I’m looking for constructive (CONSTRUCTIVE, people) criticism, so if that’s your bag, hit me.


  7. […] I feel guilty, but then again, I don’t.  After having tried to get my head around writing the photography pages I wanted to make for almost two weeks, I finally had enough pieces together to actually have a go at writing them.  I admit, I’ve only finished two of the pages–Photography and Inspiration and So You Thought Porn Was Bad…– but I have a good start on the next one and all my information gathered for the last one.  I even managed to work in a piece of flash fiction for Chuck Wendig’s The Present Tense challenge. […]

  8. […] using present tense. Originally I thought of a story about time travel. I think it still is. Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: The Present Tense I’m laying on my deathbed.  Lying?  Laying?  I’m laying on it, and lying.  My daughter […]

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