19 April 2012

second person

I tried to read a book recently which was written with a second-person narrative. Wikipedia says,
The second-person narrative is a narrative mode in which the protagonist or another main character is referred to by employment of second-person personal pronouns and other kinds of addressing forms, for example the English second-person pronoun "you".

I say, it was super-annoying. Every time I read "you" it took me out of the story. I kept thinking, "Who you? Me? But I'm not a futuristic detective investigating a kinky murder and missing my hair-do appointment. Why did this author use second person?" Suffice to say, I couldn't stick it out and didn't finish the book.
Caveat Scriptor! As a writer, you should think carefully before you try using second person. Is it really what your story needs? If so, go for it! :)

Of course, there have been successful fictions written in second person. Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss (1990) comes to mind.

I must admit, I do like second person for blog entries. :)

How about you? Have you read or written any good second person?


Charmaine Clancy said...

I don't think I'll attempt it at all, but loved WHEN YOU REACH ME - a children's mystery/sci-fi. It was quite poetic in its use. I think the key there was the second person reference was intermittent and not constant, it was contained in the MC's thoughts and messages to the person not appearing in the story.

But when the narrator does an 'aside' in a story to 'you', that does take me out of the story.

Wagging Tales

Kat Heckenbach said...

Agreed--it's the intermittent thing that makes it work. Helps if the book is humorous, too. "The Kneebone Boy" is a YA book that uses second person in small doses and it works so well because it adds to the humor. It's slipped in there very smoothly, too.

lesleylsmith said...

Thanks for the input, Charmaine and Kat! I'll have to check those books out. :)