The Points Between

An Experiment in Present Tense: The Points Between Chapter One

Submitted by Christopher Wright on

The Points Between is on hiatus until July (and hasn't updated since last November) but that doesn't mean I haven't been doing anything with it. I actually have part of Chapter 26 written (just not all of it) and, since it is a story that is radically different from anything I've ever tried to write before, I spend an awful lot of time brooding over it and tinkering on it. I often wonder how I will rewrite it, when the time comes.

Enter Curveball. This prose comic is very different in style and tone than TPB, but it is also similar in one respect -- I've never written anything quite like it before. In Curveball's case the difference is that I'm writing it in the present tense, something that, at one point in my life, I swore I would never do.

I swore I would never do it because the first time I read a story written in present tense I hated it. It took effort and it made me tired when I was finished. For a long time I assumed it was because the tense made the setting of the story too immediate and artificial. Now I think it may have been the author didn't use it correctly, because I've read other stories where it worked quite well (Howard Tayler's short in Space Eldritch is a good example of present tense done well.)

I don't know if I'm using it well in Curveball or not, but it feels right. And I notice that as I'm writing in present tense (which feels incredibly difficult to me, still) I'm forced to think about the story differently and it occasionally leads me to write in ways I wouldn't have considered before. Which is neat.

So a few months ago, as an exercise in "trying to look at old material in a new way," I decided to take the prologue and first chapter of TPB and re-write it in present tense, to see if it helped me look at the story in any differently, to see if it changed the tone of the story, for better or for ill... and mostly just to see what would happen. The results were interesting to me--the result feels different from the original, and in the process of writing it I wound up adding hints of things that weren't touched on in the story till later. I printed out a hard copy to edit and then promptly forgot about the whole thing...

... until this weekend when I found the hard copy as I was sorting through stuff to pack or throw away. The soft copy was still sitting on my hard drive. I still think it's interesting. And since I don't have a lot else planned for the site this week, I figured I'd post it. So if you're curious to see what the opening of The Points Between looks like when told in present tense, it's right here, under the cut.

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