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Reality Check Second-person viewpoint - Has anyone tried it recently?

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Worried about "He"

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Tim James

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I know it's not the done thing, and that it is virtually anathema to agents and publishers, but has anyone on here written a substantial story in second person?

I did a year or so ago. At first it was it was just an experiment to see if I could. It ended up as about 50,000 words of an unfinished novel.

It didn't turn out to be as hard as I thought it would be to write. But reading it is somewhat a weird experience. It puts you right in the action and in some ways is the SHOUTY CAPITALS of viewpoints, constantly telling you, the reader, what you are doing, how you are feeling, etc. Not to everyone's tastes, for sure, but I'm surprised it seems to be so much despised.

(Since I'm new here it is possible that there may have been other threads on this before, if so I apologise for repeating a previous discussion.)
 

Kitty

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Hi, yes, I've written in the second person, but only for short stories or in short sections for one of my POV characters. I've never managed to sustain it for a whole novel because it is a very intense and immediate POV.

People tend to steer clear of 2nd person POV mainly because it is hard to do well, and very easy to do badly, and I think this is why it gets a bad press. Once you nail it the reader won't notice you're using it but will feel the intensity.

There were some threads about 2nd person a while back but they're probably lost in the archives, but when I was trying to get it right I had some wonderful feedback from my fellow Litopians which was a huge help, so hang around and when you gain access to the writing groups you can ask for feedback.

The best advice I can offer though is to try to avoid using the word 'you' as much as possible. Turn you sentences around and find a different way of saying things. Once you get the knack it's not too hard to write, and you'll know if you've got it right because nobody will notice it. If it's jarring and people comment then you'll still need to work on it.

I actually really like it as another useful tool in my writing arsenal. :)
 

Tim James

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... The best advice I can offer though is to try to avoid using the word 'you' as much as possible. ...

Absolutely right, otherwise it really does sound like you are calling out orders to the reader. When I was doing mine I tried to limit myself to less than one you per paragraph. As you say, by varying the sentence construction you can actually get away with very few yous.

Like you say, if it is done right, then the reader doesn't notice.
 
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Greetings! Hello there!

Worried about "He"

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