Sometimes it’s natural to write a paper predominantly in the past tense, and sometimes it’s natural to write mostly in the present tense. Occasionally, you have a choice. For example, a writer can often talk about literature in either the past or the present tense. The reason for this is that although a piece of literature was written in the past we tend to think of it as something that lives in the present. Therefore, in writing about The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, we can choose to say, “Jay Gatsby represented the American dream” or “Jay Gatsby represents the American dream.” The important thing is to be consistent. If you choose to write about a work of literature in the present tense, stay with the present tense; if you choose to use the past, stay with the past.