Why I hate FPPT

Q: Why are some books tagged with “FPPT”?

A: FPPT stands for First Person Present Tense. Lately, Young Adult books have been plagued with this particular narrative strategy. I think it’s the author’s attempt to convey a “you are here” feeling to the reader. LitHacker is SO OVER this style. It is sometimes difficult for me to get past the first page of a book written this way. Please, YA authors! Past tense is a perfectly lovely tense! And third person will not automatically scare teen readers. You can do it!

As with anything, there are some FPPT books that I’ve really enjoyed. I’ve started to think that it’s not just FPPT that bugs me, but that I guess that it’s how FPPT is written. Too many YA FPPT books are leaden and simplistic: “I see [hot boy] enter the cafeteria. My heart begins to pound. My stomach clenches*. I duck my head so that he doesn’t see me. I wonder if he notices me ducking my head.” I mean, seriously, this isn’t even a parody. I think the more successful FPPT books manage more complex syntax, and even find ways to do flashbacks to keep things varied.

*Stomachs clenching or twisting or hearts thudding or heads swimming or pulses racing also need to be banned from YA.

But still, it’s difficult for me these days to open a book in FPPT without my stomach clenching, so to speak.

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