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Writing in second person

In one of my favourite guides to writing, "How NOT to write a novel" by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark, they strongly advise budding writers against employing the second person. They remark it worked well for Italo Cavalo and Jay McInerney, but publishers will have zero time for it. However, while it might be a minority choice when it comes to voice, it seems to have a persistent for some writers: https://readingmattersblog.com/2019/08/24/8-great-novels-written-in-the-second-person/


My most recently completed novel alternates between first person plural (more on that next time) and second person. The main, "frame" story is in first person plural, from the point of view of the villian protagonists, while the story within the story is in second person. This story within the story follows multiple characters in an unnamed town over the course of a few days, with the "you" changing as perspective shifts.


Writing in the second person can give the sense of the person being immersed in the story. Of course, some readers may find this offputting if the "you" of the story is unsympathetic, or others may find it somewhat of a cheap trick. Perhaps writing in the second person can be somewhat of an affectation. However, for own my novel, I chose to ignore the advice of Mittelmark and Newman, as I think the second person was a germane affectation, given that the premise of the novel is about immersive virtual reality.


Shaelinwrites has given an interesting account of writing in the second person, highlighting how there are different senses in which one can use second person - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fcyS9UHvjU. Worth checking out if you want to explore this further.

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