Today we’re tackling the tricky topic of writing in Second Person. It’s rarely used in fiction, and by the end of today’s lesson, I’m sure you’ll have no doubt as to why.
Poor ol’ Second Person. It’s so unpopular that it seldom gets asked to join the writing party. It’s actually been voted the “Most Likely Grammatical Form to Be Forgotten After High School”. Your average person has no use for it, and will probably utter at some point in his life “So…what’s ‘second person’, again?”.
But you, my lucky writer friend, want to have an understanding of this form even if you never choose to use it. Think of it like that funny twisty thing in your tool box that you don’t even know the name of or what it’s used for. It’s good to know it’s there, just in case.
Second Person elements:
1. Uses “You” (“You decide to bake a cake so you’ll have something to take to the party.”)
2. Narrator refers to one of the characters, possibly himself, as “you”, making the reader feel as if they are a character within the story.
3. Rarely used, hard to maintain for an entire novel. Unless it’s done really well, it can distract the reader.
4. Can be used to create intimacy with reader while at the same time showing that the narrating character is distanced from himself.
5. Usually present tense, but could be past.
Some daring and skilled authors have taken advantage of the novelty of Second Person, making their work stand out. Some examples are:
Bright Lights Big City by Jay McInerney
Damage by A.M. Jenkins
Got it? Great! Now that you’ve studied the basic elements of the First Person Grammatical Form, you should go write a practice paragraph or two just to make sure you have the hang of it. You might even try reworking your exercise from last week’s lesson from First Person into Second Person. Ready…go!
Did you do it? Would anyone like to share their work?
Come back next week for lesson 3: Third Person