The least used Point of View
Rebecca Mikkelson, CBD
Last week we talked about First person POV and how it can put the reader in the narrator’s shoes and make them experience the writing in a deeper way. This week we’re going to be talking about second person POV.
In Your Own Little Corner, In Your Own Little Chair
Second person point of view is one of the least written in POVs because of its difficulty not only to write but to market. It exclusively uses pronouns you, your, and yours in the prose to address the reader directly and make them into a character themselves. The point of view is akin to first person point of view in that it draws the reader in more deeply than third person point of view, which puts distance between the reader and the characters.
Novels written in second can be compelling if they’re done right, and the reader will feel the emotions more intensely because they’re being told what to feel, but it is a very difficult point of view to master. One shining example of a successful second person POV novel is Jay McInerney's Bright Lights, but it is the exception to the rule. More often than not, editors and publishers alike will tell you not to write a novel exclusively in second POV because it can ask more of your reader than they’re willing to give, and thus, you alienate your reader.
You Can Be Whoever You Want to Be
On the flip side, and the end of my Debbie-Downer rant on second person point of view, Choose Your Own Adventure style books are a very successful way to use second person point of view. Often these are bought for children who will read them until they’ve played out every possibility, but more recently, it’s coming back into style for adults. In a world where daily life is consumed with politics, drama that happened at work, and drama that’s happening at home, sometimes adults just want to escape the fact they have to adult where it’s peopley outside.
If I were ever to tell you to write in second person POV, Choose Your Own Adventure books would be the direction I would steer you in.
While it isn’t a very often used point of view, second person POV can be successful, though rarer than the other points of views. If you’re considering taking on the challenge, my recommendation would be to go the Choose Your Own Adventure route.
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