Okay, so, I know I already chattered about second person once. (Here’s the original if anyone’s curious.) But then I read a great post by Andrew Knighton (which is Here, and I’d highly recommend giving it a look as it raised some interesting points) so the topic’s been back on my mind recently.
After reading Knighton’s post, I’ve started thinking about second person in two different categories. The first, which is the one I discussed in my own original post, is when the story is actually reaching off the page and addressing the reader as ‘you.’ That’s the style I implemented when I wrote Tasty Tiny Magic.
But what about when ‘you’ just refers to another character who is in no way supposed to be the reader of the story? That’s the second type in my mind, and this has become really interesting to me since I do use some second person narration in Clocks (my current WIP). The character in this writing style is a completely developed and independent character. The narration style is just a narration style in her case.
So what does that mean for a story, exactly? (One of my Hollins professors loved saying that. Jen Boyle. A fantastic educator.)
I decided to play around with the idea with taking previously written characters, and rewriting one of their scenes in second person. I wasn’t allowed to change anything about the dialog or action. I was hoping to see that there was some consistent shift in tone when I did so, but really, I didn’t see anything like that.
Instead, what I noticed was that some characters felt so undeniably wrong in the second person, and some seemed more natural. Example: Kaleb’s scenes were ridiculous when I changed the narration style, but I actually kind of liked Samantha’s. So here’s my thought (and this is just one writer’s opinion) but it seems to me that the characters most suited to second person narration are the ones who feel unsatisfied with themselves.
Which isn’t to say Kaleb is thrilled with his situation. He’s not. But he’s always had a really strong sense of who he is as a person, and doesn’t have any real desire to change himself. Samantha on the other hand constantly struggles with her own self-identity and prefers to wear costumes and personas rather than be herself. My character in Clocks, while she is nothing like Samantha, also doesn’t think much of herself and is extremely uncomfortable with introspection.
Does anyone have any thoughts on that? This is one of those topics that gets more interesting the longer I think about it, so I’m always open to throwing around some more theories.