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R&R "loved it but change the tense"

(7 Posts)
Pollaidh Thu 19-Oct-17 12:12:59

I submitted a commercial/literary contemporary novel to a small genre publisher via a contest (a twitter pitch not aimed at them in particular). Having seen the full MS they've come back with a lovely letter to say they loved it, can I revise and resubmit. Generally they seem happy with it as it stands, except they don't like that it is in present tense.

As any writer will appreciate it's a small ask (i.e. not tons of editorial problems), but a major task, to go through the whole bloody thing and change all the tenses to past tense. It's been seen by an independent editor who loved it and didn't comment on tense, critique partners and beta readers have either loved the present tense or hadn't really noticed. I know it's often a matter of personal taste. There are also thematic reasons why present tense makes sense. It was a very conscious decision.

The independent editor who saw my work last week advised me to go after big mainstream agents first, so I suspect I won't be resubmitting to these publishers. Obviously though if the tense is going to be a big barrier, it'd be better to sort before I submit to the mainstream agents.

This is my first book and my first submission to anyone.

Any thoughts or advice please?

OnTheRise Thu 19-Oct-17 16:06:11

Changing the tense of a book does completely change the flavour of it. It's a huge thing to do. If the independent editor is experienced then I'd take her advice. (Also I'm wary of writers paying editors to help them: it's rarely necessary, and it can put off some agents and editors, who want to be confident that the writer is competent without such help.)

Pollaidh Thu 19-Oct-17 16:23:40

Thanks Ontherise

I see your point re: paying editors, but the independent editor only looked at the first 3 chapters and her edits were very limited. Also the publishers saw the whole book before she helped, so I'm now feeling more confident as the publisher and freelance editor obviously both seem to like my (own) writing. I won't mention it to agents though, if it's likely to put them off.

DH has suggested I test change an early and a middle scene to see how they feel in past tense and then go by my instinct.

MyBrilliantDisguise Sun 22-Oct-17 11:19:16

An awful lot of books are in the present tense now. I wouldn't change it on the advice of one person. It could just be that she doesn't like the present tense in a novel.

Pollaidh Sun 22-Oct-17 21:57:51

Thanks MyBrilliantDisguise. I think you might be right. She said that 3rd person and present tense jar. I've spoken to my beta readers and critiquers and they loved it. I've also sent it to someone who knows the book business and publishing pretty well and they loved it and couldn't see the problem.

BordersMumNow123 Mon 23-Oct-17 09:50:18

Most contemporary books I read are in present tense. I think that's the most modern approach now?

Pollaidh Mon 23-Oct-17 20:56:49

That's what I thought. The freelance editor I worked with has offered to take a look at some pages in past tense, so I'm going to send those tonight. I can write past tense, but so far turning this writing into past tense isn't working with the style/voice.

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