Point of View – Second-Person

“You click open the blog post on character point of view, hoping to read anything interesting at all. After a brief scan, you give up, providing a merciful Like before logging off.”

Growing up, I had heard of the other two perspectives a lot, even outside of writing. As two examples – First-Person Shooter is a genre of video games, and there was a character on Seinfeld, Jimmy, who spoke in third-person. In fact, I was convinced there was no second-person perspective at all since nobody seemed to ever talk about it. It was only until getting into short stories that I was actually able to identify it in some pieces. In saying that, its definitely rare.

The best I can describe second-person perspective in creative writing is where the point of view is you, the reader! You are being told that the one experiencing the story is yourself, as a character. Of all the perspectives, this one definitely comes across as the most intimate due to how it pulls the reader into the story. Its incredibly effective at providing a rich sensory experience as well since the reader is forced to imagine themselves in the situation.

For many readers, it can create a sense of unease or discomfort from how close the story feels but its also so effective in conveying emotions like fear or love for this same reason. It’s also difficult to sustain a story for long stretches in second-person so you tend to see this only in short stories or single chapters.

If you’re looking for a great example of the second-person point of view, I would recommend Birthday Party by Katharine Brush. The story is short enough to feel the effectiveness of this point of view without tiring out the reader or feeling overly gimmicky.

Now, with second-person narrations, you do have to make sure you don’t mistaken a point of view for when the narrator is simply addressing the audience. Quite a few first-person and third-person stories can do this by saying lines like, “of course I would, you would’ve surely done the same!” If you get confused, just ask whether the “you” is the subject or is the subject just interacting with “you.”

That’s it for this week! I’ll be splitting third-person into a couple posts as there’s quite a bit of detail to cover. Hope everyone had a great New Year, looking forward to interacting with everyone more in 2019.

Keep turning the page,

Chris

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