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Is Second Person All That Weird?

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  #31  
Old 01-01-2013, 06:36 AM
JoeMatt (Offline)
 
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I'm pretty sure professionals of all kinds talk some shop when they get together. I'm in advertising and design -- when I get together with friends in the business that's what we talk about. You brag a little, commiserate, talk about trends and technology. We usually critique what's out there or maybe gossip a little.

Before I transferred to design, I studied painting. The few people I hang out with now that are still doing their art love to talk about it. I worked at a design studio that was in larger complex of art studios, so I met a lot of professional artists there too -- I can't recall any of them being shy about talking about art or technique or materials -- especially if they saw you had some knowledge. One of my best friends is a photographer and he can go on about that ad nauseum.

You're right about guitarists too. I know a guy who is a top producer -- his kid went to school where my wife taught. He's worked with a few folks you may have heard of -- Pearl Jam, Springsteen, Black Crows to name a few. He's also an amazing guitarist, played the lead solo on the Black Crows hit Hard to Handle. He doesn't talk about the people he's worked with much -- he's nonplussed by all that. But if I mention guitars, he's off to the races. I told him about my big purchase -- a '74 Gibson SG standard, all original -- and he knew every single spec. of that guitar. He could talk about hand wound pickups or vintage amps all day long.

I'm betting that it depends more on the person than anything else. I only know one published author and she doesn't seem to be shy about talking shop at all -- maybe because she has an idea that I'm not going to say something too dumb about it.

PS -- And sure, if you're a major league ball player and you're sitting in a dugout for three hours, day after day over multiple seasons -- my guess is you're going to wind up talking about something other than baseball.


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  #32  
Old 01-01-2013, 10:06 AM
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I always wanted to write something in the second person. Second person, I think, is different and unique. I like being different and unique.

In fact, I actually wrote a short story in second person. The reason why I wrote a short story and not a full length novel with it is because it would be the first time of writing that POV, I was afraid the reader would get tired of reading a lot of "you"s, and was afraid the reader would say something like, "I would never do something like that." And because it's a short story.

The main problem I had was trying not to write the word "you" a lot. It made me write the senses: sight, sound, etc. I also write in the present tense, so that added more of a challange.

I'm not sure if I'd could second person "weird." On the other hand, it is odd to read since that POV is really uncommon. If you're going to write in second person, be careful, get some feedback, and be ready to write a lot of drafts.
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  #33  
Old 01-01-2013, 02:07 PM
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I think you're wise to keep it short, Annabel. Like a lot of offbeat stuff, it can pall at great length, as you say.
There's a break for Americans since we use what is technically second person (and what kind of weird language doesn't differ between singular and plural tense???) as a sort of universal or undistributed tense. "You can't fight city hall" "You get what you pay for". In most Romance languages this would be a third person plural or a reflexive, Spanish "No SE puede ganar", for example.

Take something like a on sentence story. I've done a couple. Rare, but far from unheard of. But one sentence NOVELS are pretty rare.
Nigel Tomm's famous runabout is almost half a million words long. The last section of Ulysses has two 12,000 word sentences.
If you Google "one sentence novel" you'll see some, but I doubt you will have heard of them.
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  #34  
Old 01-03-2013, 02:24 AM
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I think if I had my time over again, I'd have liked to pursue guitar playing more than writing, but it just didn't work out that way. I love writing too (and I think my talent for it is probably greater than my musical ability), but music and guitars have a magic that I can't quite find in literature.

Sigh...

I like the sound of your SG, Joe; mine is a 1980 Firebrand model which I bought used when I was 19. I adore it; it's the only one of my guitars that literally makes my mouth water in anticipation of playing it. It's given me an affection for Norlin-era Gibsons which is apparently quite unusual in the guitar aficionado world.
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  #35  
Old 01-03-2013, 10:10 AM
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The Firebird makes a statement alright. It's a cool design.

The SG is really the only purchase I've made that I bought against my wife's protests -- and she's usually pretty flexible in that regard. But it was pretty expensive. The market is a little soft right now, but I will always be able to sell it for more than I paid for it -- that is if the kids are going hungry or we're facing foreclosure.
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  #36  
Old 01-27-2013, 10:16 PM
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I read a book once that I picked up randomly from a used bookstore. It was a novella, probably only around 200 pages, maybe less. As far as the plot of the book, I cant say it was incredibly interesting. It was about a teenage boy who was depressed for no real reason and thinking about killing himself. He found a girl that made him feel not so gung ho about blowing his brains out, but she dumped him when he confessed to having suicidal thoughts because her father committed suicide or something. He ended up confessing to his best friend and... getting over it I guess. It was very mellow.

The reason I remember this book so well is because it was the first and only book that I have read in second person. I have never felt closer to a character, than when I read this little book.

Now, second person is my favorite perspective, and I have 2 or 3 short stories completed from that view... 2 of which I think are actually posted here somewhere lol. However, I've never dedicated it to anything longer and more lasting because I know that people mostly dont feel the same way as I do when they read second person.

For me, second person is a way to delve so deep into the character, that you become them. You feel their pain, and their fear and their happiness, and you live their life alongside them. This is the most emmersion I have ever had in a book, and I thought it was wonderful. I guess I'm strange, because I don't see it as myself doing all those things that are written in the book. The first few pages, as you struggle to learn more about the character, are the bumpiest as you struggle to emmerse yourself into the character, because it takes a little bit for you to know enough about them to feel like you are part of them. But if you can get inisde their heads, its like having a front row seat to the story of... whatever book youre reading at the time. First person is sitting somewhere in the middle/back, where you know what is going on, but you dont really get to experience it for yourself, or see any of it. Third person is like sitting up high in those expensive boxes where you get to see everything that's happening. But I've always preffered being inside the characters, and seeing everything happen up close.

I dont know if any of that makes sense or not.... I just know that I've never had the problem of thinking, "Pfft, I would never SAY or DO that!" And I think it's because I don't consider the character in the book to be me, even though it clearly says "you". I can't really explain why, except that I always feel like I'm sitting inside another persons head, seeing what they're seeing and watching them go about their everyday activities, marveling in their decisions.
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  #37  
Old 01-27-2013, 10:21 PM
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Very interesting.

If nothing else it shows that there's an ass for every saddle.
There's very little that somebody can't make there and make it work for them.
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  #38  
Old 01-30-2013, 06:21 PM
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I personally hate reading second person. It IS weird to me, not because it's unusual, but because it makes it so much harder to relate. In 1st and 3rd, I'm reading someone else's story. I can relate to them, empathize with them, even see parts of myself within them. But with 2nd person, when it says, "you did this..." and it's some thing I'd never do or say, I get put off by it. I find it distracting, among other things. I just simply don't like it at all, and would never get through an entire book like that. I can't imagine reading a book and not noticing it's POV, but especially if it's in 2nd person. Most of my avid reader friends feel the same way. It's personal preference. Perhaps writers sometimes feel differently because they are viewing it from a "craft" perspective, and can really appreciate it when it's done well. I don't know and can't speak for others obviously. But I can't stand reading it, so I would never bothe attempting to write it. Besides, 1st and 3rd are easy to write and readers are comfortable reading them, so I don't personally feel I need to bother with it. I can see where some might want to try it just to expand their writing abilities and see if they can pull it off, but I certainly don't think there's anything wrong with not writing it. Or reading it, for that matter.
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  #39  
Old 01-30-2013, 06:31 PM
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I'd say that's a majority opinion.

One thing I'd say about 2nd person, it's not a totally unnatural narrative. You hear it.

"You think you're going to be OK, then something comes along and messes you up"
"You go up three blocks and turn left and you'll see the church. You can't miss it."
You're going to love this. You have to file your taxes before you take your profit or they'll come after you."
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  #40  
Old 01-31-2013, 01:00 AM
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You have a daughter/child, Sunny? If so, you might want to check out my short, To Take A Life, in the Member's Only Forum. It's a brief read, at 491 words. Goes by very quickly.

So, if you don't like it, there's not much lost.

And no, I don't want feedback on it anymore (I'd rather you didn't bump it as well, so mine doesn't go to the top when others need help). I'm not in a position to return a critique for quite some time anyway.

Anyway, it's just a matter of finding pieces where the second person has been used well, I believe.
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Last edited by DavidGil; 01-31-2013 at 02:51 AM..
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  #41  
Old 02-02-2013, 10:47 PM
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I tend to be all over the place with Third-Person subjective and omniscient, using First-Person in some stories or just in certain scenes.

It is kind of funny that I do not use Second-Person in my writing. My storytelling began as role playing, in which I was usually the guide of the story and used Second-Person often. When I moved into role playing on-line, via chat or instant messaging, there were times when I was asked to tell the whole story, and did so from Second-Person.

While reading through this thread I recalled something that had made a huge impression on me in my childhood. It was a Disney Halloween record where the Second-Person was used several times. I had loved it.

In reading Second-Person though, I think it too often jolts me out of the story when the 'you' does something I would not do, or fails to do something I would do.
That said...
Consistency of character is a big thing for me, if that is strictly observed, then I can set aside 'me' to follow along with 'you'.
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  #42  
Old 02-08-2013, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by DavidGil View Post
You have a daughter/child, Sunny? If so, you might want to check out my short, To Take A Life, in the Member's Only Forum. It's a brief read, at 491 words. Goes by very quickly.

So, if you don't like it, there's not much lost.

And no, I don't want feedback on it anymore (I'd rather you didn't bump it as well, so mine doesn't go to the top when others need help). I'm not in a position to return a critique for quite some time anyway.

Anyway, it's just a matter of finding pieces where the second person has been used well, I believe.
Fair enough. I won't give feedback then, but I will say that I can see how it could work for a short. I still don't care for second person, but I get it. I would still be uninterested in reading an entire novel written this way. I just wouldn't be able to connect with it long-term for the reasons I already stated. I agree that it would be easier to connect well when it's written well, just like with any other style, but I still just don't care for it. But that's okay, I don't have to. The OP just asked if people thought it was weird, and I responded that I do. I know not everyone agrees with me.
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