The Score is a delightful novel about a smashed grand piano and its people.
As a reader I was happy to be whisked along by the story of Stefan the desperate piano restorer and his unlikely helpers. Attractions include a vivid bunch of characters in various predicaments; an interesting setting in the community housing in Newtown, Wellington, only a short bus ride from my place; and a friendly, confident style.
As a writer, I started pondering the problems of writing an entire novel in the present tense.
- You can only dive into the past by making a character speak or think about it. You can't take us there.
- The emphasis is likely be on constant activity. It's difficult to step back for a breather, to reflect on events.
- If you are telling events as they happen, it's hard to keep the timeline realistic.
- Your voice must be very engaging to maintain the reader's commitment. A "Hey, look at this!" tone can be tiring.
Many a brilliant novel has been written in the present tense, but it's a heck of a lot harder than it looks. So before deciding to use the present tense in fiction, take a deep breath.