For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?
I suppose this doesn’t work for those of you who are trying to write your novel in the present tense. If you are, personally I have to ask you to stop. Yes, okay, it is a style thing, but I just can’t get into it. I’ve read a few passages in present tense, and I always end up feeling tense (as in irate). To me, past tense is the way to go. (Of course, maybe I just haven’t read a good one) Anyway, for those of us writing in the conventional fashion…
This publisher noted that present tense words are okay in dialog only. In narration, they should be cut.
Now, in the gold mine manuscript, the present tense word was “almost” used as narration. It was “sort of” an inner thought. The POV character looked at a big mess, and was thinking about cleaning it up, and the narration said “he’d have to tackle it today.” Now, I think the problem is that it was set off as narration, not as a complete inner thought. If it was in italics, like the POV character was actually saying it in his head, it may have been okay (again, this is my opinion here). But since this writer’s style is to have most of the character’s inner thoughts as narration instead of italic thought, this publisher found the use of “present tense” words to be a problem.
So, in a nutshell… if the narration says: He’d have to take care of things today. This is no good.
However, if the same character says out loud, or as an inner thought: “I’ll have to take care of this today.” That is fine.
That’s a pretty simple one, but it might be one many overlook if they have their inner thoughts as narration. This can be overcome simply be making your inner though more concrete, and putting them in italics so it is very clear that this is an inner-thought, and not the narration.
Amendment: Guess what? I just found one of these in my own manuscript! In the MC’s POV, the narration says: – It isn’t cold, like it is here.— Now, this isn’t past tense, but the “here” sounds weird because it is in the narration. I need to change this into an italic thought, or change the wording to be slightly more detached. One or the other. It is basically the same principle.