Curious about present tense I

Hello! So about a month ago, I attended a writers group meeting. During the questionnaire, the host who claims she’s an expert on writing and what agents want, said that agents absolutely will not accept YA stories written in first person, present tense even though most stories are written in this tense and person.

Is this true? I’m not really looking for an agent, but I have been writing a story in present tense and am just curious about the market for when I get my story ready for publication, which is not anytime soon. I would just like to know beforehand just in case.

Nope, not true.

Hunger Games was First Person POV, present tense.

Now, it’s NOT a popular set up, and some people do actively dislike present tense. So your book will have to be very good for them to look past it. But that’s not the same thing as “absolutely will not accept.” That statement is just flat out wrong.


Ok that’s really good to know. When she said that it didn’t sit right with me. I definitely understand the dislike but a flat out rejection solely based on present tense in first person seems a bit unfair to me as agents come in all different sorts of colors and interests. That all agents will reject present tense is a false statement and like you said flat out wrong. I just don’t really know very much about that end of the market because I’m pretty new to writing seriously. I really value your opinion though because I know you’re very knowledgeable about it

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That would hold more value with me if someone else said it about her rather than her saying it about herself.

I personally don’t like present tense, but I believe it’s the trend, especially for YA.


Tense is too easy to change. Even if an agent believes it would be a hard sell because of present tense that doesn’t mean they’d reject for that alone. That would be utterly stupid.


Yeah you’re right. Even if Jane Friedman went incognito to our meeting and said “Hey first present tense isn’t an automatic reject!” She would probably fight Jane on that. She’s just that kind of person, unfortunately.

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That sounds like somebody’s personal opinion turned into a divine myth. For YA, I would say it will work, even outside WP. For all other writing, probably not. The whole industry is incredibly subjective, so I would just query and to heck with that person. Cripes, it’s hard enough, do they need to make things even harder by spreading rumours?


This is not true at all! To Kill a Kingdom, a YA novel that came out last year, is written in first person present tense. Everyone has their preferences when it comes to tenses and POV, and I’m sure the person got their information from some agent who said they are tired of reading this combo, but it’s definitely not true for all agents/publishers. All that’s important to an agent is whether they think they can sell your book. Especially in the YA category, readers don’t tend to be picky about your POV or tense. Teens aren’t grand critics of writing style to begin with. They care more for your story than how you wrote it down.


No, it is highly unlikely that an agent would reject a story just because it’s first-person narration and written in present tense. If they thought the book would sell, they would buy it because these are easy things to change if need be.

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Lol, I guess Children of Blood and Bone isn’t actually published then. Or Half Bad, which gasp also switches to Second Person.

The person who said this has never read some of the biggest YA splashes in Fantasy and Sci-Fi, if they don’t know what’s happening with First Person, present tense.


I don’t know enough to answer that question, but I will say people seem pretty divided on it in general. I recently made a post about a story I’m working on and asked for opinions on first person, present tense.

The consensus was split but then when they’d read my excerpt, all but one I think actually liked the tense. I’d say it depends on the reader, the writer, and the story itself.

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I know most people don’t like present tense, but this is more about agents responses in particular to what the woman said in our meeting, which didn’t sit right with me and i just wanted to know from other perspectives since this woman isnt really the expert she claims to be. That agents “dont accept first person present tense at all

The question has been largely answered by many people who know the market really well, so thanks for your feedback! :slight_smile: I think I’ll stick my story with first person present tense for now and when it’s done and ready for querying, I will see what happens

It’s actually funny because they purport to say that they read YA, and also write YA. I don’t know, honestly, the lady is a bit too off putting for my taste like I’m sensing something about her, a vibe that she’s not what she presents herself to be and I don’t like it. So she might be pulling all of this out of left field.

I really should read Children of Blood and Bone. It’s been on my watch list for ages.

She sounds like a fraud. First POV, present tense in YA is massively popular right now and has been for a while. Especially in Fantasy and Sci-fi and it astounds me she doesn’t know this. It should be common knowledge.

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I have to agree with you on that front. I have this weird ability to kind of see people. My mom says that she has it too and can pick up on when someone is fake. This woman is definitely one of those people.

And yeah, she even mentioned the popularity of the first person YA stories. She said “Oh but agents will always reject them. You will never get published with a first person present tense story.”

I don’t know if she realizes just how contradictory that sounds. Maybe she’s doing it from personal experience that agents rejected her first person YA Novel because it was first person present tense?

But maybe they rejected it because it sucked? I’ve read her stuff… she’s okay at writing but she’s nothing groundbreaking

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And that’s probably where the cookie crumbles.

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And when it’s a blockbuster bestseller, everyone will be writing in 1st-person present. :slight_smile:


That’s a load of BS! First-person, present tense is INCREDIBLY popular and mainstream, especially for YA.

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Yeah I know, and she knows that too. I have no idea why she even said that agents absolutely reject first person present tense. I told AwFrasier in an earlier post that I think she is using her personal experience in agent rejection and transferring her rejection reason to the story being set in first person present. I don’t think she can quite admit to herself that her story needs work. It’s not right to tell this to a bunch of people who are easily impressionable – especially when their figure of authority is someone like her. Of course, when there is a leader involved people will accept their statement automatically. Then they are left with people who want to change their story based on the thoughts of someone like her. It’s a toxic cycle.

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Yeah it’s dangerous to spread misinformation like that - it can mess with people’s creative process and screw up what they think they know about writing/agents. Glad you questioned it!

I used to write third person past, then first person past, but I found my true “voice” when I switched to first person present. I’m a big advocate for it. Do what’s best for your story! :smiley: