How to use tense in novels?

How to use tense novels?

Present Tense


From classics to new-age contemporary books, many well-written pieces of literature are written in the present tense. It brings the readers into direct action and makes them feel a part of the narrative. All the feelings that your characters feel and directly transmitted to the readers as well. The story, characters, and readers together walk in the symphony and take the ride. In other words, it gives readers cinematic appeal thus heightening your storytelling technique.  And therefore, this form of tense appeals to many creative writers.


  1. For fiction book: Bleak House by Charles Dickens 

“The raw afternoon is rawest, and the dense fog is densest, and the muddy streets are muddiest near that leaden-headed old obstruction, appropriate ornament for the threshold of a leaden-headed old corporation, Temple Bar. And hard by Temple Bar, in Lincoln’s Inn Hall, at the very heart of the fog, sits the Lord High Chancellor in his High Court of Chancery.”

2. For nonfiction book: Life’s Amazing Secret by Gaur Gopal Das

“Have you ever experienced the Indian monsoon? It brings one of the fiercest, most thunderous downpours of water from the heavens. If you’re caught in the heavy rain, it’s nearly impossible to stay dry. Similarly, it is hard not to get caught up in the challenges and negative situations of the world.”

Types of Present Tense

The present tense is further divided into four subforms and it is pivotal to choose the right form of the present so that your thoughts are articulated without any lack. Since the readers travel with you through words, you should choose them cautiously. 

  1. Simple Present Tense:  It is used to describe the current situation or incidents that take place regularly.

Rule to be followed while writing: Subject + Verb in the base form/third person plural form + remaining sentence.

Example: He takes a bath every day.


  1. Present Continuous Tense: It is used to describe the situation or incident that is continuing in the present moment.

Rule to be followed: Subject + Helping Verb(am/is/are) + Main verb + ing + remaining sentence

Example: Kids are playing in the park. 

  1. Present Perfect Tense: It is used to describe the incident that has started in the past and still has a relation with the object in the present.

Rule to be followed: Subject + Helping Verb (have/has) + Past participle of the main verb + remaining sentence.

Examples: Boys have reached the classroom.


  1. Present Perfect Continuous Tense: It is used to describe the incident that has started in the past and continues in the present.

Rule to be followed: Subject + Have/Has + Been + Verb + ing + the rest of the sentence

Example: they have been waiting for the professor to start the lecture.


Benefits of Writing in Present Tense

“For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity,” says C.S. Lewis in his book The Screwtape Letters. Writing in the present tense adds authenticity to the narrative and helps the readers to stay enrapt in the pages. There is a palpable tension that the readers feel along with the characters as the story moves forwards. Which indeed adds an extra feather to your writing.  It helps you to—

  1. Give you a real-time experience of the events happening in the novel.
  2. You solely depend on the narrator’s viewpoint which helps create mystery and leave you spellbound as new turns happen.
  3. The narrative feels realistic.
  4. Writing in the present tense is easier than framing sentences in the other tenses.
  5. Less scope for grammatical errors.


So, isn’t it amazing to know that you don’t necessarily need to write in the past tense? Present tense books can also be well-written books. Try your hand at writing in the present tense and feel the difference. And do not forget to tell us in the comments section which tenses you like the most, past tense or present tense.
Notify of
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Join the community

For the hottest and coolest updates