Telling Stories of Your Life

Mar 12, 19:55 by IROSF
A thread to discuss second person in genre writing, or Ruth and Jay's discussion.

The article can be found here.
Mar 13, 05:42 by Michael Bishop
This is an interesting narrative strategy too little examined, and so I appreciate what Ruth and Jay have done here. The examples by Kelly Link and Ted Chiang are directly to the point as well. I've taken a shot at narrating from the second person, with the "you" a direct participant in the story's action, at least twice in my career. I don't wish to mention the first such effort, but I was fairly happy with the results in a later story called, with a nod to Chip Delany, "Life Regarded as a Jigsaw Puzzle of Highly Lustrous Cats." I think my immediate inspiration for that one, though, was not Delany or sf/fantasy literature in general, but rather Jay McInery's popular and briefly iconic novel Bright Lights, Big City. In any event, a stimulating and overdue discussion. Thanks.
Mar 15, 20:24 by Richard Lovett
I'd not realized until I read this that I'd done this once, too. Though there's another form, the dramatic monologue, which has the form of a first/second person-switching story, but can also be intepreted as one side of an overheard conversation. Thanks Ruth and Jay, for the taxonomy of this.
Mar 18, 12:39 by Dave Truesdale
An excellent article. One of the most perfect usages of the second-person use of "you," can be found in Ramsey Campbell's quite short horror story "Heading Home." It was reprinted in Year's Best Horror Stories, VII (DAW, 1979).

Campbell tells the story from the viewpoint of the headless half (i.e. the body, not the head), of a husband decapitated by a cheating wife and her paramour. But how does one gain the immediacy of telling the story from the dead body's perspective, when there can be no thoughts coming from a first-person-headless pov?

Simple (not really). Campbell tells the story from a second-person familiar pov, as in, You feel around for the stairs and the lab, knowing your wife and lover are upstairs. Will they hear you? You take each stair blindly, and in pain, knowing it will be worth the price. Etc.

I was paraphrasing the above, but you get my drift. It was a great piece of using a familiar, second-person pov to give insight into the body's supposed feelings, while at the same time talking directly to the reader.

Hope that made sense.

Mar 19, 20:26 by Daniel Ausema
Good exploration of the topic--and a topic well worth exploring. Peter Beagle's Innkeeper's Song always struck me as a good example of 'you' as narratee, where you feel like each of the different characters are telling the story in answer to your interviewing questions. It's been a few years since I read it, so I hope I'm not remembering it wrong.

And 'you' as character I'd have to mention Calvino's If on a winter's night a traveler. I like 'you' as character in a lot of the cases I've seen it recently. For me what it always seems to do is create a slight sense of dissonance--you know this didn't really happen to you, so you get this feeling like everything's a little skewed. So I think it works best where that's a desired effect (which is maybe why it seems--from my experience--a little more common in speculative fiction).
Mar 28, 15:59 by susie hawes
Glad to see this. I fell in love with second person after reading a short in the e zine,EOTU.
Instructing Igor, by Tobias Seamon

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