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May 24, 2017

Something that’s happened too many times to me, mostly for the bad, is when a favorite author decides to shift their writing style.


They got bored.

Their publisher pressured them into it.

They decided to chase a trend.

Their muse took them that way.

Their fans demanded it (highly unlikely).

Sometimes this strategy worked for the author commercially…personally as well. Sometimes not.


As usual, I won’t name names. There was once a great thriller writer. I devoured all of his books, written in solid third-person, past tense. In fact, the last great novel of his I read, I finished while we were camping at nearby Mt. Charleston here in Las Vegas. It was one of the last times we were able to camp up there before they closed the camp sites and converted them to day use only. That was around 2012 or 2013.

I anxiously awaited this author’s next book. When it finally came out around Christmas, for some reason, I opened it in the bookstore and leafed through it first. Maybe I was paranoid because of another book I got burned on, I’m not sure. In this case, I looked before I bought and it was a good thing. The author changed style and switched to first-person. For those that know me, you know I can’t stand to read first-person in fiction. I won’t go into the what’s or why’s in this article, but let’s just say I was so disappointed and pissed off, I actually did a one-star review on Amazon. This is the first and only time I’ve ever done a book review without ever reading the book. Why? Because the author wrote it in a style that’s virtually “unreadable” to me. I felt justified in my rating because I was expecting something else and the author disappointed me so much I couldn’t help myself. I clearly stated I never read the book, but also why I didn’t read it. That one-star rating was solely based on his writing style.

The author has continued to write in first-person and I haven’t read a single thing he’s done since. Oh well…

Case number two is another thriller writer I used to like. I read everything he wrote for years. Then he started collaborating with another author. Uh oh…

I got hold of their first effort, then leafed through the story. Crap!

As in total crap!

The story was written in third-person, but present-tense.

As you regular readers well know, I find present-tense unreadable in the extreme.

That ruined the author for me from that point on. Ever since, I’ve anxiously hoped for a change, but that author, even when he writes solo, continues to put out this crap in presnt-tense.

He used to write so well.

Now there’s another writer who back in the day, I had to struggle through some of his stories. I liked them but could never figure out why until I learned the writing craft. This guy used to write present-tense! I gave up on him because I couldn’t stand to read his stuff. However, I kept track of him, hoping he’d change.

Well, folks, he finally woke up. He started writing in third-person, past tense. His stories are so much better. They rock!

Now, I’ll mention a writer by name. Patricia Cornwell. This author is all over the place. She generally writes third-person, but has a penchant for present-tense. I was laid up in the hospital after surgery and had one of her present-tense books. Even with nothing else to do, I could barely get through that drivel!

Then MS Cornwell wrote the odd past-tense novel and it rocked!

To this day, I still check each book she puts out, hoping to see another one in past-tense.


I’m sure you’ve had authors that for whatever reason, have stirred the pot, changed their formula. Maybe they didn’t change writing style, but genre. Now, for me, if they write the same, but change genre, I’m more likely to read it. If they keep the genre but change writing styles, that’s not the case. I have specifics about what I’ll read.

For those of you more tolerant, or for those of you that haven’t found your favorite, this all may be moot. For me, since I constantly read as well as write, it’s a key to my existence.

Since I write multiple genres, there’s one thing I can guarantee, regardless of genre, the writing will be the same. You can bet on that. If you like the way I write in one novel, and don’t mind switching genres, you’re more than likely to like my stories in another genre as well.

Happy writing!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 24, 2017 1:10 am

    I’m reading a book now that’s in first person present tense. Seems like almost your worst nightmare. It’s ok bc the story itself is very compelling, but yes the fact that everything is told from one narrator’snarrow point of view makes the story a bit less rich in my opinion.

    • May 24, 2017 1:20 am

      I agree. It’s very myopic. No big picture. Also, present tense makes me feel like the author is trying to rush me and that pisses me off! Thanks so much for the reply! You rock!


      • May 24, 2017 6:55 pm

        Yeah, sometimes it works. Agatha Christie, for example, might be able to use it successfully with her unreliable narrator. But most of the time I don’t like it, either.

      • May 25, 2017 1:09 am

        There you go!

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