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Nighthawks at the Mission
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Group Questions? > Second person narration

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message 1: by Jason (new)

Jason Crawford (jasonpatrickcrawford) | 587 comments So, this book was submitted to my review blog. I went into the sample (because my policy is that I won't review without looking at the sample and making sure it has no deal-breakers), and I found something incredible.

This book is written in second-person narration. The main character is "you."

This is nothing I've ever seen outside of "choose-your-own adventure" style books. I was stunned, shocked by the originality and audacity. I didn't prefer the narrative style myself, but I wanted to bring it to the attention of Fringe.

Has anyone read anything else like that? Written anything like it? What're your general opinions on the style?


message 2: by Jacek (new)

Jacek Slay I've always wanted to write a second-person narrative book, because I found it extremely original; and, to be honest, I've never heard of a book written like that. But I guess having to read 300+ pages of it would be really tiresome. This form might suit short stories or serve as a secondary narration, but nothing more.


message 3: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) It's common in various Noir style fiction, that I've noticed, so it's not brand new exactly. But I can see how styles become more of a mixed bag in indie publishing.

I believe the most well-known example is Bright Lights, Big City, written completely in second person. I can't recall the author's name and I don't feel like googling.

:)


message 4: by Quentin (new)

Quentin Wallace (quentinwallace) | 380 comments I've read short horror stories like that, but never a novel. I agree with Jacek, though, a full novel written in that style may get annoying.


message 5: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 503 comments Lily wrote: "It's common in various Noir style fiction, that I've noticed, so it's not brand new exactly. But I can see how styles become more of a mixed bag in indie publishing.

I believe the most well-known ..."


This one? Bright Lights, Big City


message 6: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Yes, thank you!


message 7: by K.P. (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 517 comments it's common in noir??? i've read my share of hard boiled but dont recall anything in second person.
if memory serves correct, the only one i enjoyed like that was "how to succeed in business without really trying"


message 8: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Hard boiled and noir are two different things.


message 9: by K.P. (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 517 comments eh right, i just woke up and hadnt my coffee yet durr


message 10: by Longhare (new)

Longhare Content | 59 comments Oriano Fallaci's magnificent A Man was written in second-person. It is very hard to sustain successfully and for that reason is usually considered a gimmick. But if it works, it works.


message 11: by Claire (new)

Claire (Book Blog Bird) (clairebookblogbird) I think it would be incredibly difficult to pull off, outside of Choose Your Own Adventure books, because if the author is telling me what 'I' do and what 'I' say, there's going to be hundreds of chances for me to think 'Actually, no. I wouldn't do/say/think that at all.'


message 12: by Jason (new)

Jason Crawford (jasonpatrickcrawford) | 587 comments Claire wrote: "I think it would be incredibly difficult to pull off, outside of Choose Your Own Adventure books, because if the author is telling me what 'I' do and what 'I' say, there's going to be hundreds of c..."

See, that's my thing, too. If the author uses 1st person, then I can imagine they're telling me a story, like around a campfire, about something they did. If it's in 3rd, then similarly, but about someone else. But 2nd?

"you ran down the hallway."
"Um...no. I was eating butterscotch pudding at the DFAC..."


message 13: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Check out these quotes from Bright Lights Big City:

https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes...

"Your heartbreak is just another version of the same old story."

Second person isn't about ordering the reader and telling them what to think or feel. It's more like an intimate observation, whereas third person tends to look at the whole picture. In general. There are always exceptions.


message 14: by Jason (new)

Jason Crawford (jasonpatrickcrawford) | 587 comments Lily wrote: "Check out these quotes from Bright Lights Big City:

https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes...

"Your heartbreak is just another version of the same old story."

Second pe..."


I can see how that could be really cool...but also, as mentioned earlier, how it could get very obtrusive.


message 15: by Claire (new)

Claire (Book Blog Bird) (clairebookblogbird) I see what you mean, Lily. Those quotes are quite - I'm trying to think of the right word - abstract? Less about the doing, more about the feeling? I can see how that would work.


message 16: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Jason, yes, to be honest, I've been scrambling in my memory, trying to think of other examples like Bright Lights Big City. I'm drawing a blank. Frank Miller has done it, but always sparingly. It's like icing on the cake. Exclusively, 100% second person? Bright Lights Big City is the only example I can think of, even then, it' not 100%.

Meanwhile, I've never heard of the book Longhare mentioned, but I'd like to check it out.


message 17: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Claire wrote: "I see what you mean, Lily. Those quotes are quite - I'm trying to think of the right word - abstract? Less about the doing, more about the feeling? I can see how that would work."

Yep, it's typical in noir styles. All about the feels.

"A wolf howls at the moon. I know how he feels."

(First person, but just using an example of that style. Don't try this at home, kids).


message 18: by Michael (new)

Michael Benavidez | 1696 comments it can be done, sometimes it's done very well, other times just amateurishly, but it can be done. I haven't heard of it in full length novels, but it wouldn't turn me off from the idea. I mostly see it in short stories


message 19: by Tabitha (new)

Tabitha Vohn trippy.


message 20: by Brooks (new)

Brooks Kohler I've heard radio plays written that way. One in particular that comes to mind is George Orwell's, 1984.


message 21: by Amber (last edited Apr 28, 2015 02:02PM) (new)

Amber Foxx (amberfoxx) | 274 comments Fascinating topic. I'm amazed to learn that there are books that have succeeded with this. Its potential to be annoying is high. The author would have to have considered all other options that were less intrusive and then found a strong reason to use it. In conversation, people use this device as a way of being evasive--not quite talking about themselves--and trying to get others to connect at the same time. I looked at the quotes from Bright Lights, Big City and got the impression of a character talking to himself, about himself, addressing himself as "you."


message 22: by Yolanda (new)

Yolanda Ramos (yramosseventhsentinel) Hmm...read the quotes and found it odd. Took me a while to get my head around it. Dont think I would read a book like that.


message 23: by Jason (new)

Jason Crawford (jasonpatrickcrawford) | 587 comments Definitely strange, I agree. I declined to review it because it felt so weird...


message 24: by Weston (new)

Weston Kincade (wakincade) | 19 comments I agree with just about everything that's been said already. To do it well, it would be very hard to pull off. That said, from a reader's perspective I don't think I'd enjoy a whole book done like that unless it was a choose your own adventure book, which I enjoyed immensely as a kid. Probably best in small snippets, short stories and such.


message 25: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Yeah, 100% 2nd person doesn't bode well to me.

I greatly enjoy powerful snippets like the ones I posted, but I probably wouldn't enjoy them as much if 100% of the text is written that way.

Side note: I worshipped choose your own adventure books as a kid.


message 26: by Quentin (new)

Quentin Wallace (quentinwallace) | 380 comments I loved those books! Still have a soft spot for them really.


message 27: by Claire (new)

Claire (Book Blog Bird) (clairebookblogbird) I read one about space vampires once and it was awesome. And by awesome, I mean bed-wettingly terrifying.


message 28: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 245 comments The only second-person narrative I ever read where it worked was
1. a short story, and
2. addressed to a character in the story -- the narrator was cloning her sister and recounting her sister's life story to the clone, addressed as "You."


message 29: by K.P. (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 517 comments I too have a soft spot for those choose your adventure books. just about read them all :3


message 30: by Nina (new)

Nina Jean (writernina) | 5 comments I like the part when someone said second person POV is more like an intimate observation rather than a command (from Lily, I think). and I want to read the short story on the mad scientist telling abt the sister


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