But, there is a subject about The Hunger Games that I've been meaning to blog about. And that is tense. It's really popular at the moment to write in present tense. When The Hunger Games was first released in 2008, it was the beginning of the trend that's been going on for the past few years now. But, my question is, how long did it take you to notice that it was written in present tense? I didn't realize it until I looked back in retrospect. My creative writing professor had finished the books a few weeks before and didn't know until I pointed it out to her. The present tense flows so naturally, that many people, even those who read a lot and study writing, don't notice it.
With so many books being written in the present now, it's my opinion (and again, this is just my opinion, and I'm not an agent or editor or anything) that to do present tense it really needs to work in favor of your book and not just be for the purpose of being part of the trend.
So what is it about The Hunger Games that makes present tense work?
- Pacing. THG is a fast-paced book. By having it told in present tense, there is an immediacy to the story, an urgency that is somewhat lost if the book had been in past-tense.
- Character. Strange enough, I do think that character is a part of the present-tense decision. Katniss isn't one to open up much. Even her flashbacks are need-to-know, and so having her tell things right then and there is more in-character. And given the state she's in at the end of the third book, her voice after the fact looking back would have changed how the events would have been portrayed.
- Style. There's something about THG that makes its present tense subtle, something in the style. It doesn't flaunt itself as being in present tense, which makes it easier to read through.