Writing in 2nd Person: Do or Don’t?

Every novel-writing class I’ve ever taken warned us about writing novels in second person. “You can try it,” they’d say, “but it’s harder to get published.” It made sense to me, and since I never really wanted to write in 2nd person anyway, I never really thought much about it.

Then recently, I ran across an article about writing in 2nd person that made me wonder if that’s changing (“The Power of You. Why I’m Writing My Book in Second Person” by Athena Marie). It could just be one author’s opinion. But what if it’s a trend? Ebooks certainly make the publishing issue less intimidating, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a good idea unless the readers’ opinions of 2nd person are also changing.

And they could be. Lots of reader habits have changed since I took those classes, and not all of it is because of books. I mean, when you think about it, a lot of what people read today is online, and plenty of blog posts are written in a casual 2nd person, especially for instructions (I do it all the time).

So could seeing 2nd person more online make it less uncomfortable for the average reader?

I don’t know the answer. Personally, as a reader, I have a hard time getting into books that are written in 1st person – let alone 2nd. It doesn’t bother me in articles, and even short stories are less discomfiting than full-blown novels. It may simply be different from what I’m used to. It may be like Athena Marie said, and I didn’t relate to the main character. I’m not sure (I’ll have to ponder that.).

What do you think? Is using “you” still taboo and a hard road to getting published? Or has internet reading and publishing changed all that?

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One thought on “Writing in 2nd Person: Do or Don’t?

  1. Pingback: Word Choice a la Mark Twain: The Difference between the Right Word and the Almost Right Word | Words & Deeds

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