Welcome to my Second-person Point of View page! It’s my favourite viewpoint and one that many people (writers and readers) have never heard of and therefore worthy of its own page. Wikipedia explains it thus:
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”.
Example: You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning. But here you are, and you cannot say that the terrain is entirely unfamiliar, although the details are fuzzy. — Opening lines of Jay McInerney‘s Bright Lights, Big City (1984)
Traditionally, the employment of the second-person form in literary fiction has not been as prevalent as the corresponding first-person and third-person forms, yet second-person narration is, in many languages, a very common technique of several popular and non- or quasi-fictional written genres such as guide books, self-help books, do-it-yourself manuals, interactive fiction, role-playing games, gamebooks such as the Choose Your Own Adventure series, musical lyrics, advertisements and also blogs.
Although not the most common narrative technique in literary fiction, second-person narration has constituted a favoured form of various literary works within, notably, the modern and post-modern tradition. In addition to a significant number of consistent (or nearly consistent) second-person novels and short-stories by, for example, Michel Butor, Marguerite Duras, Carlos Fuentes, Nathaniel Hawthorne, the technique of narrative second-person address has been widely employed in shorter or longer intermittent chapters or passages of narratives by William Faulkner, Günter Grass, Italo Calvino, Nuruddin Farah, Jan Kjærstad and many others (cf. the list of second-person narratives below).
I also wrote a blog piece on it back in February called ‘Second-person viewpoint – love it or hate it‘.
I also have a second-person eShort ‘The Dark Side‘ (available free on Smashwords, Sony Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Bookstore and Kobo (Amazon won’t let me list it for free)) which 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.
You hear the car door slam followed by heavy footsteps, slow and determined – keeping time with the blood pounding in your ears.
The footsteps stop at the front door. You wait to see what he’ll do next. Ringing the bell would be the last thing, the door itself too heavy for even him to break down.
Part of you wonders how he found you so quickly; you’d hoped for later rather than sooner. This is Jessie’s house and only she knows you’re here. Even your mum doesn’t. But the devil has ways of making people talk. Everyone has a weakness. You know that Evan is his, and only getting his son back would bring him here. You hold your breath and listen but the only sound is a clock, ticking away the seconds; a countdown to the inevitable.
If that’s grabbed you do go and continue reading (and I’d love it if you left a comment on whichever ‘store’ you download it from!) and do have a go yourself. It’s not to everyone’s taste but as soon as I learned that second-person existed I was hooked.