Seduced by Second-Person Point of View

The first time I dipped my toes in this intimate and imperative style was while reading “Choose Your Own Adventure” books.

Oh, and prior to that time was when my mom read “The Monster at the End of This Book” told by lovable Grover.

In my high school honors class, I remember reading another second-person point of view book that had originally been written in Spanish and a cat was on the front cover. At this time, my memory fails me and I can’t think of the title. I tried using Google, but lacking more information than that, success has eluded me. 😦

As a reader, I’m definitely no stranger to second-person point of view. Second-person point of view is kind of like cilantro. You either love it or you don’t. I do love cilantro and I also love second-person point of view. When it comes to fiction writing, second-person perspective is rarely used. I wondered why this is the status quo. I wondered why second-person point of view has acquired such a bad reputation. This especially seems strange to me even after great novels like N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy (yes, my dear, all three books are written with you/yours and the narrator is talking directly and imperatively to you . . .) lit up the literary world like a majestic and refulgent supernova!

Second Person POV_Jemisin Meme
Oooh, I made a meme. Tee hee hee.

After some research I learned that difficulty is the primary reason why there are only a handful of successful second-person point of view fiction novels. Here, elaboration:

Second-Person POV

I have read the entire Broken Earth Trilogy and can see why the following points apply if the book isn’t written with the finesse and award-winning skill that Jemisin wields in her fantastical world of earthquakes and perpetual unrest as a mother searches for her daughter all the while a certain someone hopes to remind a special someone of who she was and is (I’m trying my darndest not to slip spoilers while simultaneously geeking out on how amazing this series is)! 🙂

Broken Earth Trilogy_Jemisin
Speculative Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Apocalyptic–did I miss anything?! 😐

I haven’t yet read You by Caroline Kepnes yet, but I did watch the first season on Netflix hoping that the main character talking to “me” as in “you” would meet a terrible and well-deserved fate. He has not. Yet.

You_MC Joe
Look at this stalker idiot. Keep texting and walking, Joe. Maybe you’ll find yourself at the bottom of a manhole! Lol. 😉

You see, it’s that growth mindset in me that just keeps on hoping he will! So I must patiently wait until the series is complete and pray that he falls prey to someone soon. 🙂

You_by Caroline Kepnes
Thriller. Horror. Mystery.

My mom introduced me to another novel, These Ghosts are Family by Jamaican-born and Queens, New York author and librarian, Maisy Card. The first thirteen pages are coincidentally written in second-person POV. I don’t know if the entire novel will be and I can’t wait to read more of it regardless of that.

Mystery. Thriller. Speculative Ghost Story.

Thus far,  it is suspenseful, it is dark, it is humorous, it is rich with culture and relatable language (Jamaican patois — mi luv yuh!), and it is whimsically and weirdly speculative fiction (mayhaps magical realism?) due to a particular ghost (I’m sure that there will be more ghosts due to the promise in the title).

All of this reading and research has motivated me to re-write and maybe even draft a couple of stories and poems in second-person point of view. I think it will be an entertaining way of challenging and stretching my literary muscles. Now mind you (lol), I didn’t just wake up one sunshine-y morning and proclaim, “I shall write my next piece using the second-person point of view device!” No, no, no. I reflected on what worked in Jemisin’s series. I asked what would have changed if the books had been written in first- or third-person instead. I also wondered if the creepy and horrific effects delivered so poignantly in Kepnes’s thriller would have come off the page as well if she had used one of the other perspective devices. The way Card handled the beginning of her novel worked well by engaging the reader. It requires the reader to pay attention, to empathize, to sympathize with each character’s background, their likes, their dislikes, all the shades of gray that springs from their grey matter in a hauntingly beautiful way. So, did these authors just throw all thought to the wind and flippantly think that second-person POV was the way to be? The verdict on all three is a strong:


Overall, it is clear that these three authors, with vastly different writing styles and genres, put a lot of thought in deciding which story-telling device would work best for their books.

Here’s a list of questions you can ask yourself — especially if you’ve considered choosing second-person point of view, which can also be found at The Balance Careers:

  • Do you want to immerse the reader in the experience of actually “being” the protagonist?
  • Do you want to engage the reader in an extremely rich sensory experience that can best be accomplished by requiring the reader to imagine himself or herself as part of the experience? (FYI: the original uses the word “forcing” instead of requiring.)
  • Do you want to write a particularly persuasive or engaging passage that will be most effective when written in the second-person?
  • Do you want to test your writing skills by using a new and different style of writing?




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