Time and tense

Time to take a break from reading a student's novel-in-progress - great characters, interesting plot, crackling pace - but we have to have a heart-to-heart talk about maintaining tense.
Maybe it's a result of the fluidity of thought and flattening of time with Tivo and downloads, but seems like many young writers just fluctuate, not from chapter to chapter but from paragraph. And present tense seems to be favored overall - there was a bit of brouhaha last fall with the Man Booker Prize, and Philip Pullman called the use of present tense in three of the finalists a "silly affectation."

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