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Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast episode 050: second-person viewpoint

Mixed episode 50 of the Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast was released today.

I talked about points of view way back in August 2010 so this time I thought I’d focus on the little-known viewpoint that is second-person so I did, for seven minutes and eighteen seconds. :)

In the episode I mentioned interviewees Stella Deleuze and Sue Moorcroft and Jay McInerney’s second-person book Bright Lights Big City then read the beginning of my second-person free short story ‘The Dark Side’.

I talked about how to write in second person then provided some sentence starts from my 365-day Writer’s Block Workbook:

  • His touch was tender yet you…
  • You wonder when things had really got so bad…
  • This wasn’t the life you’d signed up for…
  • If you could change one thing…
  • You said it could never happen again…
  • It’s a dull day and you know how it feels…

I then mentioned that I’ve finally started putting some of my books on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. For now they are repeats of everything I have on Smashwords, but I recently left my job to edit my four novels so I hope to put them online in the coming weeks, depending on how busy my editor and first readers are. :)

If you have any feedback or areas you’d like covered in the hints & tips podcasts, do email me.

The podcast is available via iTunesGoogle’s FeedburnerPodbean (when it catches up), Podcasters (which takes even longer) or Podcast Alley (which doesn’t list the episodes but will let you subscribe).

Details of the other episodes (interviews, reviews, red pen sessions etc.) can be found here.

You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords, Sony Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Bookstore and Kobo. My eBooks are now on Amazon, with more to follow, and I also have a quirky second-person viewpoint story in charity anthology Telling Tales.

I have a new forum and you can follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s ‘Contact me’ page or plain and simple, email me.

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in ebooks, Facebook, podcast, writing

 

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Second person viewpoint – Love it or hate it

I thought tonight I’d talk about the little-known point of view that is second person.

Most writers (hopefully all) will know the difference between, and often write in, first person (I / we) and Third person (he / she / they) but second person (you) seems to be something either not heard of, not tried or not liked. From memory I have only interviewed one author (Stella Deleuze) whose favorite point of view is second, as it is mine (we actually have a lot in common and have become ‘twins’… my mum’s a twin. :))

Editors seem not to like stories in it, although I do get the impression (or am I just hoping) that it’s growing in popularity and one recently came second in a Writer’s Forum magazine, judged by writing friend and interviewee Sue Moorcroft.

That said, it gets tiring after a while to write and read (I’m still working my way through Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights Big City and it’s a novella!) so best suited to short stories. I have a second-person short story (‘The Dark Side’) available free on Smashwords if you’d like to read one in full (well, I say “full”, it’s a mere 682 words).

So how to write this viewpoint? Whilst it’s not quite as simple as writing first or third person then changing I or he / she for you, it’s not far off. As an example ‘The Dark Side’ starts like this…

You struggle to breathe as you look down at the cot. You know he won’t be far away. It’s only a matter of time.

Your heart quickens as you hear gravel shifting. A large car – his Daimler. You’ve got it all planned, but of course there’s no guarantee. What if…? ‘It’s no good thinking what if?’ you tell yourself. You only have one chance. To escape. Be free. Alive again. You stand up straight and your hands tighten around the bundle you hold close to your chest. It’s the key to everything. This is what it’s come to, you know he’s here to kill you, take your child, his heir.

As you can see, second person is often ‘dark’ and quite intimate, almost suffocating. It can feel like the narrator is talking directly to the reader, which isn’t always a bad thing, but certainly an acquired taste. Either that or Stella and I are just weird. :)

The trick is to imagine that you are talking to your reader, or to your character. Where a third person point of view can feel somewhat detached, writing in second certainly does bring you closer. Also it can really only involve one person as the ‘you’. Of course you can include as many other characters as you like (within reason, especially in a short story) but they would always be a ‘he’, ‘she’ or in some cases an ‘I’. Overuse the latter though and the borders of whose story you’re telling can become somewhat fuzzy. With ‘he’ or ‘she’ there is still that detachment that you’re talking about someone over the ‘you’ character’s shoulder.

If you’ve not tried writing second person I would urge you to have a go. You may not like it but if you’re anything like Stella or me, you’ll be hooked. Whether you can sell it is another matter but being a writer should be about writing what you love (although that doesn’t necessarily pay the bills) and if it doesn’t all see the light of day then it’s still something you’ve created and hopefully enjoyed, and in doing so have practiced and perfected your craft just a little more.

This blog’s sentence starts page provides prompts loads in all points of view and my 365-day Writer’s Block Workbook has over 1,000 split into three-a-day with a tip at the end of each week. Feel free to use any of the following:

  • His touch was tender yet you…
  • You wonder when things had really got so bad…
  • This wasn’t the life you’d signed up for…
  • If you could change one thing…
  • You said it could never happen again…
  • It’s a dull day and you know how it feels…

Like short stories, I’m convinced that it’s only a matter of time before the world realises that second person is there, jumping up and down, shouting “pick me”. I’m so glad I did. :)

I have some other free eShorts (and a not-so-free ($1.49) 31-story anthology and workbook) at Smashwords. Feel free to help yourselves. I’ve set myself the task of writing an unlucky second-person short story for tomorrow night’s Flash Fiction Friday and haven’t started it so just as well I have the day off. That said it doesn’t usually take me long to create a piece and recently my muse has been the local park with the dog (my first two pieces for

You can find Stella via her blog: http://wordsbystelladeleuze.blogspot.com and on Twitter. You can find her books at Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com and http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/StellaDeleuze.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with Jessica Meats – the two hundred and seventy-fifth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (my guests love to hear from you too) and / or email me.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in ebooks, short stories, writing

 

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Another free short story eBook – The Threadbare Girl

I’m really getting the hang of publishing eBooks with Smashwords. :) Having ploughed through the 70+ page formatting guide (so big because it was so thorough) I created a shell Word document which I can now just copy and paste the content into, then with the wonderful ‘format painter’ icon have it ship-shape in a matter of minutes.

I create the covers in Photoshop and Picasa and that’s fun too… collaging, fading, rotating, picking fonts… it’s like being back at school. The only expense has been hiring my editor, Rachel and she’s been worth every penny because not only does she spot (thankfully few) mistakes but she’s come up with some wonderful suggestions. No writer, however good they are, should at least not get one second opinion before unleashing their writing in eBook form.

So for anyone contemplating the eBook route, I’d say “absolutely”. Setting up an account with Smashwords is free, the publication process painless (well, fairly… coming up with a synopsis for something that’s almost as short as the extended description box has been a challenge!) but the end result so rewarding.

The first three free shorts (April’s Fool (3rd person pov), Feeding the Father (monologue) and The Dark Side (2nd person pov)) went up last Tuesday evening and to-date have been downloaded over 160 times. :)

The following morning I uploaded a $1.49 The 365-Day Writer’s Block Workbook which has since been sold four copies. That may not sound like much but it was four more than the week before and I’m thrilled.

The latest addition is another free short story ‘The Threadbare Girl‘, taken from the anthology ‘Story A Day May’ which has been edited by Rachel and just needs my final input and formatting then it’ll become eBook number 6. Then I’ll be cracking on with my fourth NaNoWriMo project which, once complete, will be put away and I’ll go back to editing the other three NaNos, dozens of short stories and whatever my brain comes up with… and I can’t wait! :)

Synopsis of ‘The Threadbare Girl': Hidden from sight, the threadbare girl takes in her surroundings. She remembers everything but even the man supposed to be looking after her forgets. Around her, life goes on but everything stands still for her; a too-tight dress the only reminder that time is passing, and it’s passing without her.

If you’d like to go and have look at the ‘story (stories) so far’ please click here. The ‘Books – mine‘ and ‘freebies‘ pages give more detail should you like a sneaky peak beforehand.

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2011 in ebooks, short stories, writing

 

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My first four eBooks are now available on Smashwords

I’m thrilled to announce that some of my writing is now available via Smashwords. :)

eShorts (free)
  • April’s Fool‘ (a competition-winning story about a long-suffering farmer’s wife from forthcoming anthology ‘Calendar Girls’) – story available free of charge from Smashwords (Amazon to follow)
  • Feeding the Father’ (a competition-shortlisted monologue from forthcoming first person anthology ‘It’s All About Me’) – story available free of charge from Smashwords (Amazon to follow)
  • The Dark Side‘ (from forthcoming second-person anthology ‘It’s All About You’) – story available free of charge from Smashwords (Amazon to follow)
Writing guide (initially $1.49 (less than £1))
  • The 365-Day Writer’s Block Workbook‘ (over 1,000 sentence starts split three per day from first, second, third and non-specific points of view and writing-related tips at the end of each week) – from Smashwords (Amazon to follow)
 
TO FOLLOW SHORTLY:
eBooks ($1.49 initally)
  • Story a Day May‘ (31 stories written May 2011 plus background info / hints & tips)

THEREAFTER (in no particular order):
  • a lad-lit novella about a trainee hitman
  • a lad-lit novella about a very personal trainer
  • a general fiction novella about a woman’s death – and her complicated life
  • a first-person anthology (see ‘Feeding the Father’ above)
  • a second-person anthology (see ‘The Dark Side’ above)
  • a third-person anthology about some weird but wonderful men
  • a third-person anthology about some weird but wonderful women (see ‘April’s Fool’ above)

…and anything else that spills out. :)

These collections / novellas are all likely to cost $1.49 (less than £1), certainly for the foreseeable future, with any further individual short stories being released for free.

New books as they are released will be listed on this blog’s books/mine page. If you do wander along to Smashwords and download any of these books, I’d be ever so grateful if you left a review. It’s the reader feedback that especially makes my day. :)

Thank you.

Morgen with an ‘e’ :)

 

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