progress report, thou shalt not use second-person?

Can we call them “no thank yous” rather than rejections?

Anyway, got a “no thank you” on the story I sent out a couple weeks ago. The editor was generous to offer his reasons, and said, “I liked much of the description in your story, but I rarely see a need for the second-person narration.”

Hmmm… really? Is second person not a valid narrative choice? I mean, I wouldn’t use it for every story, but I certainly feel it has its place. And I have to love this particular story in second person, versus what it would feel like in first or third. Maybe I’m wrong. (Anybody feel like taking a quick peek at a 4-page story?) It’s touchy though, because I know a lot of people don’t like it. But then, some people do, don’t they? Any thoughts?

progress report for the week of 11/16:

Let’s try not to let the “no thank you” detract us from what was actually a productive week.

Chapter 4 was born yesterday. It’s a Lexi chapter and she’s freaking hilarious in it. I think one of my favorite things about Lexi is her honesty, and the way she just owns herself, so that she can let these hilarious failures just roll right off of her back. And she needs to, since Danny and Hannah tend to poke fun a bit much. Anyway, chapter 4 was a blast to write and I’m so glad to have it in my novel!

A good bit of chapter 10 was born this week too, which I had to indulge myself and write because it’s one of those “when they fell in love” chapters, and I just can’t resist “when they fell in love” stories.

And if you could see how much of this novel is written, it would look like: chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 10, 19. Yeah, okay, out of order much?

So with a pretty solid framework for chapter 4 and 10, and some random plumping elsewhere, I added about 2000 words to the novel this week. Better than last week!

I actually, finally, went and got my Virginia drivers license and plates! *cues confetti, lol!*

For this week:

– I’d like to walk three times, but it’s going to be pretty rainy… excuses…
– If I decide to stand by my second-person narration choice, then I’ll send that short story straight back out again. I already have somewhere else in mind for it.
– I have another short story (not in second person, lol!) that I’d like to get reacquainted with, now that I’m easing myself out of NaNoWriMo mode and into normal, everyday, writer mode.
– No specific chapter goals, since they quite obviously just come out as they please. I’ll gladly take another 2000 words this week. Sheesh, that sounds so tiny, considering some people (especially in NaNo month) are cranking out 2000 words or more each day. It’s looking like it’s going to be my average though, considering my current situation.

I’m telling you though, once I’m a big-name author, on contract ‘n stuff (we’re allowed to dream around here!), I’m totally getting a part-time nanny! 🙂

5 thoughts on “progress report, thou shalt not use second-person?

  1. I was going to ask you if you had another place to send the story out to. Stand by your choice! I have found a lot of dislike for the second person narrative. It seems to be looked down upon for anything other than “choose your own adventure” books. But if anyone can use it and use it well, you could.

    I wouldn’t mind taking a peek at your short story.

    lol at the written novel chapters done. That’s great. Do you normally prefer to write things in order if it will let you?

  2. I am actually not a huge fan of 2nd person narrative. I think it really really has to make sense for it to be used. Otherwise it is just dramatic for the purpose of bandaging the fact that a story itself lacks drama. That’s my little two cents, anyway…but I haven’t read your story so I can’t really comment on whether it works or not in your case.

  3. Lunar, lol, choose your own adventure. Then hubby reminded me last night that 2nd person is also used a lot in advertising and spiritual writing, lol!

    Thanks for offering to read – I’m going to poke at it for a minute (or a day?), and then I’ll email you.

    And you know, now that I think about it, I never ever write anything in order – not a novel, not a short story, not a LH story, not a blog entry, not even this comment!

    Steph, thanks for your two cents! I’m just trying to understand why people dislike it so much, since it appears I’m one of the few who don’t mind it 😉

  4. Hi Laura 🙂 I’ve been following your blog quite a bit (can’t help it, writers blogs intrigue me greatly :P) but commenting has been sparse due to something called exams. It really should be illegal.

    Anyway, my beef with second person narrative? Heh, it stems from a rather embarrassing thing called “Quzilla” which had a lot of stories which I’m certain are a lot like “choose your adventure” type stories (never read one, we don’t actually have any of that here, huh…)

    My other beef with second story narration? -I- don’t like doing stuff. Makes no sense, but bare with me, -I- don’t like being pushed, hugged, talked to or otherwise interacted with while I’m reading. It sort of feels like a stranger stepping out of nowhere and telling me I’m the love of his life… Creepy much? (Now, your story could be horror (which would be -worse-, people trying to -kill- me? Geez, thanks Laura!) or it could be tragedy (lovely, just lovely…) or just real life (I might not mind being made rich so much…) That’s generally how I experience reading second person narrative stories. A lot of them (including a few from Quzilla) are brilliant.

    But that doesn’t make me feel less awkward about being abruptly kissed/pushed/killed/tortured/you name it by a stranger xD It might not be the best of reasons, but that generally why I’m wary about reading stories using that particular tense, but then I don’t really have the best experience with them either.

    In the end, I suppose the best question to ask is; do you feel that your story is made stronger with second person narrative(and explain to yourself why it does)? Because if you do, then don’t change it.

    Walks – I really should do more of them, since it’s the perfect weather for it (well, it’s the perfect weather for -me-, I like rain, cold and darkness) but I’ve no one to walk with so my motivation is currently living it up in Hong-Kong I think.

    Okay, I’m off to do “there’s-ten-days-until-my-next-exam-and-I-have-today-and-tomorrow-off-to-do-other-stuff” type things 🙂

  5. Vildea, ah-ha, thank you! I think that’s the missing piece I needed. And I think my hubby also mentioned something along similar lines last night – that just because *I* enjoy being thrust into the 2nd person character, it doesn’t change the fact that most people don’t. Most people don’t have the desire and/or the capacity to take on that role, like an actor almost, and maybe most people are into stories for the “escape” rather than the “experience”. So when a 2nd person story works for me, it probably wouldn’t for a lot of people.

    I agree, the question being does it make the story stronger? And is it worth the risk of putting off people in the process, knowing that so many people don’t like it?

    I liked it because it was interesting (for me) – but for someone like you, from what you’ve said, it probably would be quite upsetting. It *is* an upsetting story. So I guess that’s where the first/third person “character” buffer comes into play, so you can read about “this other person” being upset, who is clearly not you.

    I think I’ll try to flip it into first person and see how that feels instead.

    Good stuff! I think I get it now. You guys are brilliant! How would I do my job without you? 🙂

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