Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Reading and Writing In Second Person

I mention our writing journey quite often and today's poster reflects that journey we're on. There are also small paths that lead to and from the big road. I took note of one of them today when reading an essay that was written using second person--that is you rather than first person (I) or third (he/she).

The you, or second person, is probably the least used. Some feel that it's the adventurous writer who writes a story in second person. He/she wants the reader to feel as though they are living the experience, that they are the one driving the boat, making the decisions and more. The reader becomes the protagonist. 

Writing this way pulls the reader into the action and it feels personal. It's also a little tricky to write a full story this way. Most writing instructors recommend using second person in short stories but not in a full novel. Tedious for both writer and reader.

There are those who feel that reading a story or essay that is filled with you and your is annoying. Count me as one of those people. I find it irritating to read a plethora of you and your. It makes me want to say Stop! I would far rather read a story written in first person. When the writer uses the I and my form, I can transition myself to feeling like the protagonist. I don't need the writer to point out that you, meaning me, is doing whatever it is. Some readers feel that this way of writing is the author's way of manipulating the reader. Now, that is stretching it quite a lot but I suppose that there are some who look at it in that way.

Some readers like reading a story in second person because there is something fresh and new about it. I wonder how they would feel if 90% of what they read used this form. Then, it would be old hat. Some writers like to try the form to stretch their own abilities. If it is different from what they usually write, it could be inspiring to them. 

Sentence structure, when using second person throughout a story, becomes more difficult. There is not much leeway when most of the sentences begin with that one word you. It takes a skillful writer to write sentences with some variety instead of following what feels like a formula. 

Should you ever try writing using second person? I think you should give it a try and see how it goes. My recommendation would be to write the story twice. Write it in first person, then write it again using second person. Set both stories aside for a few days, then read them and see which one appeals to you more than the other. 

I think readers fall into two groups regarding this method of writing a story. Some will think it is just fine, maybe even love the form. Others, like me, will not care for it at all. As writers, there is no way we can please every reader. Do what feels right to you and you're bound to find plenty of readers who love the way you write. 

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