POV- 2nd Person

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Thanks to bensound.com for the opening music!

Ask the Author: Stephen McLain via Facebook: Ask several full-time, high- performing authors about their daily ritual–not focusing on just their writing rituals, but how they frame their lives. It’s practical and potentially applicable for many listeners the very next day.

Aaron: First of all, this is a much more involved question simply because he requested asking “several” full-time, high-performing authors, which means, at least to me, more than just Pops and me. So I did that. I also want to talk about the term “full-time,” which I took to mean “no day job.” However, many of the “high-performing” authors I know still hold down day jobs. That’s not to say that they don’t write “full-time.” They still find ways to squeeze in more than twenty hours of writing a week. I also chose this question for this week because there are several authors answering, and our topic is a little shorter this week, so this works out nicely.

Mike Delloso: I start my day around 4:45-ish and write for about an hour to an hour and a half. Then I need to get ready for my full-time job in healthcare. I get home from work about 4:30/5:00 and the evening is family time. I have daughters (5 now!) so they help with chores. My “house/yard work” is usually done on the weekends. But I write 7 days a week. And that hour and a half in the morning is not just writing time, it’s email time, correspondence time, marketing time, and everything else. It’s a challenge, really.

Ann Tatlock: It’s definitely a challenge, especially if you have a day job. My best advice would be for this person to choose at least one hour a day for writing–as Mike has done–and stick to it and just do it! Don’t let anything interfere with the writing time. Other than that, I think every writer works out a personal schedule that works for them, depending on family, church work, outside responsibilities, etc. There’s no one right way to be a writer and get the work done. It even depends on whether someone is a morning person or a night owl. Get up early to write or stay up late? It all depends on the individual. Bottom line, find what works for you and do it.

Lynette Eason: I’m an early bird, too, like Mike. I get up, grab a bite to eat, have a little quiet time, prayer time, then jump into writing. Right now, school is out, so I’m on a more relaxed schedule than when my kids are in school and I have to get them ready. Now, one is in the Dominican Republic doing missions for the summer and the other sleeps til noon. So I work until he wakes up. Writing mostly. I try to get the word count done after one initial read through of emails to see if there are any that demand my immediate attention. Once I meet the word count, I try to do some marketing, social media, etc. then if I have not met my word count, I go back to it. If HAVE met it, I move on to whatever other story I have in the works. I may do some laundry in between, run to the grocery store, take a walk or whatever in between all that, but mostly I’m working. And if the laundry doesn’t get done, I have three other people in the household who are perfectly capable. I generally don’t cook. We eat out. ha. I also have a cleaning lady who comes every two weeks so I only have to vacuum and clean occasionally.

Jim Rubart: I’m Mr. Random. Growing up I had so many hobbies I couldn’t keep up with them all, and that hasn’t really changed. So what does my day look like? Always different, I don’t have a routine.


But I get done what has to be done. I won’t write for months, doing other things–my marketing business, voicing an audio book, marketing, consulting with other authors, then I’ll dive in and do little other than write for eight weeks straight. (That contract deadline can be a wonderful motivator. :))

To that person asking, “How can I fit my writing in?” I’ll say this: When I first decided to write a novel, I told myself I could do anything for 20 minutes a day. So I worked on my novel for 20 minutes everyday. I wrote a good chunk of ROOMS that way. If you can’t carve 20 minutes out, you really don’t want it that bad.

Steven James: Don’t pressure yourself to write a certain number of words, or shrink it from 1000 to 300. If you write 300 words a day for 300 days (that’s giving yourself breaks and days off) you’ll finish a 90,000 novel once a year—which is more than most novelists throughout history have been able to do. Ease up. Relax. Be brilliant. And trust the process.

IF TIME: Aaron: I’ll go ahead and answer this one because I’ve been called a “prolific” writer on more than one occasion. I’m usually able to crank out a book pretty quickly by comparison (usually it’s a matter of six months or so). And I hold down a day job as well. For me, my daily ritual differs during the school year and summer. While in summer mode, I’m a full-time writer. I wake up, workout (shocker, I know), and then I’m into my books. I’ll usually write for a few hours, then do lunch, then back to work until dinner. I work out in the living room so I can still interact with my family. During the school year, I’m up early so I can get into work and put in an hour before my day job begins. Then, I write for an hour or so after school hours. I’ll put in some time on Saturday, too. But I usually don’t work evenings or on Sundays. Those are the times I get other things done around the house and hang out with my family.

FIRSTS IN FICTION

POINT OF VIEW: 2nd Person

  • Second person POV is using “you” as the narrator. It sounds odd, because it is. Here’s what it sounds like: “You wake up in the morning, roll out of bed, and stretch. After brushing your teeth, you shower and head off to work.”
    • Note that in this example that the present tense is used. In the past tense it would read: “You woke up in the morning, rolled out of bed, and stretched.” This is a little less jarring to readers but lacks the feeling that the action is unfolding.
      • In present tense there is a greater sense of tension; in past tense there is a sense that everything has already happened. The reader asks…
      • Past tense = What happened next?
      • Present tense = What happens next?
    • This can be a very interesting to readers who are not familiar with this particular flavor. And, more than anything, this is a “flavor” of first person. As with most flavors, some people will love it, others won’t like it at all.
    • Those who love it like the feel of “being” the protagonist. This was the way most “Choose Your Own Adventure” books were written. Maybe that’s why I like it–it harkens back to my childhood.
    • Those who hate it say they don’t like being told what they do, or tend to not feel connected when the protagonist does something the reader would not do. Imagine:
      • “You wrap your fingers around her neck and begin to squeeze. She squirms under your weight, but you press on until her face turns blue.”
      • This kind of passage can make us uneasy, as most of us would never do something like this.
      • If this were in 1st person or 3rd person, it’d be easier to read.
      • Consider, though, that the tension that exists between the text and the reader is still tension.
      • This means you must give serious thought to your genre. Second person does not fit every plot and requires a deft hand and a thoughtful author. You must be able to tell a story in which the reader is willing to abandon his/her own personality and be someone else to a greater degree than the other two POVs.
      • It is the narrator talking directly to the reader.
  • Things to remember:
    • “You” is still a character.
    • The “you” will have a backstory, a gender, a physical appearance.
    • This is not the speaker actually addressing the reader (as is sometimes the case in poems or letters, i.e., “When you left me, you broke my heart).
    • Instead, this is a disembodied voice detailing the actions of a character and using the 2nd person pronouns to do so (Instead of “Frank fired off a round of twenty push-ups, the text would read, “You fire off a round of twenty push-ups…”) We, as readers, understand that we’ve never done twenty push-ups. This is not narrating our lives. But it’s as if we’re taking on the role of a character in a movie.
  • “How To” stories
    • These are told in the imperative voice, that is, a command. The “you” is not stated explicitly, but instead, is implied. Example: Clean your room, or, Pick up that trash.
    • “How to Burn Down a House”
    • These should still be stories (they should have conflict). This is not an “how to make a peanut butter sandwich.”
    • It may sound like this:
      • How to Hide a Body: First, lose the cops. They’re on your tail, and unless you can shake them, you’re on your way to the big house. Try taking a sharp turn down a narrow alley. Your car is small. It can make it.
    • These are a fun twist on storytelling.
  • Let’s convert a third person POV to second person:

Death had no good reason being out on a night like this.

It was September warm. The Santa Ana wind had scrubbed the sky clean. The harvest moon cast a soft light. It was a perfect evening for a carefree stroll. Not a killing night at all.

From the backseat of a patrol car, through the wire mesh screen, Detective Ethan Morgan saw two things that didn’t belong together—his house and a crime scene.

The media vultures were circling while his neighbors clustered in nervous pods on the sidewalk, pointing and whispering.

Ethan closed his eyes and took a deep breath, praying for the strength to face what awaited him. In his hand he clutched the program of an elementary school production.

He found it difficult to believe that just a short time ago he’d been sitting in a school auditorium bored out of his mind.

(Jack Cavanaugh, THE GUARDIANS, © 2008, Page 9 [first page after front matter] used by permission.)

2ND PERSON

Death had no good reason being out on a night like this.

It was September warm. The Santa Ana wind had scrubbed the sky clean. The harvest moon cast a soft light. It was a perfect evening for a carefree stroll. Not a killing night at all.

From the backseat of a patrol car, through the wire mesh screen, you saw two things that didn’t belong together—your house and a crime scene.

The media vultures were circling while your neighbors clustered in nervous pods on the sidewalk, pointing and whispering.

You closed your eyes and took a deep breath, praying for the strength to face what awaited you. In your hand you clutched the program of an elementary school production.

You found it difficult to believe that just a short time ago you’d been sitting in a school auditorium bored out of your mind.

  • Reactions?
    • Aaron: I like it in second person, but it misses out on a few things. First, the profession of the protagonist. 2nd person, like first person, means you have to do a little more work to get some necessary information like that worked in naturally. Also, I think the “you” should come a little sooner, maybe before the setting, so it’s not as jarring. I think the setting prepares us for 3rd person. We expect it. Or even first. But 2nd? Usually, the stories I read in 2nd, start with the “you” very early on to orient the reader.
  • When should you use second person? Probably for short stories. It doesn’t work as well for longer works. However, you can do novellas and novels in it if you really want to. Just don’t count on selling them.
  • Here’s a list of novels in 2nd person on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/second-person

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