Tag Archives: Second-person

The Art of the Point of View

I am currently reading The Crimson Petal and the White and a hundred or so pages in, I’m still getting used to the point of view (second-person present). I am so comfortable with third-person and first-person that I’d almost forgotten about the little-used second. After, aren’t all books addressing the reader anyway? You’re taking them on the journey with you, and so why not talk to them?

When I began writing, I was a strictly first person kind of girl – I couldn’t imagine writing any other way. It could have been the egomaniac in me, or it could have simply been the fact that each character was someone I wanted to be, and therefore why not write in a way that comes across as Me? Whatever it was, each character was a “Me, Myself and I” type. Then I wrote a short story about a She… I wrote about something I hadn’t experienced myself and somehow it just felt right that it should happen to someone else. And thus it was that I discovered a whole new universe of writing.

I could change characters and write from several perspectives, I could write as a boy (which I had never attempted in first-person). The stories became more malleable and much more exciting – both to write and to read. How had I not realised this before? How had this third-person world been so ignored all this time?

So now I’m a third-person kind of girl. It’s much easier to kill someone off that way as well (which I have discovered I am fond of in a slightly upsetting George R.R Martin kind of way). This is why it’s a bit of a shock to the system when I open a book and find it talking directly to me. Is the second-person another undiscovered mine of possibility? Will I start writing in second and wonder why I ever bothered with anything else?

I wrote some poetry once… well, more than once…in a very misguided assumption that as a writer I should be able to write poetry with great ease (cue disgust at self and a great deal of respect for poets). Those, I found, were very much first- and second-person territory. But the idea of writing a novel from the second-person makes me nervous still. I even feel a little nervous reading second-person!

What’s your choice in Point of View?

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