Be a Better Writer--2nd person

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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Re: Be a Better Writer--YOU WRITE IN 2ND PERSON

Post by Laurie » Wed Feb 18, 2015 12:14 pm

In my writing, I try to help the reader be honest with herself, so I often ask questions like, "Do you ever feel like giving up on your recovery?"

To encourage the reader, I might say something like this:

God knows you, understands you, loves you, and has a better life waiting for you. There’s no one better to lead your recovery.

I have a niche audience, and I feel I know that audience well. I want to offer them a lot of encouragement, biblical principles, and practical tips. I want to help them absorb and apply what I share with them. I also think writing in second person goes well with my warm, conversational style.

In the past, I was concerned about switching between "you" and "we" like Shann mentioned. I asked someone about it and she said not to be concerned about it. I have since stopped doing it, though. At first, I was afraid I would come across preachy or accusatory by sticking solely with second person. I think I avoid that by my warm style.

All that said, I can definitely see that second person isn't usually a good choice for fiction.

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Re: Be a Better Writer--YOU WRITE IN 2ND PERSON

Post by Shann » Wed Feb 18, 2015 12:41 pm

Having been blessed to read several of Laurie's books, I totally agree that she is on of the people who know how to master the second person. It doesn't come off preachy at all to me and it feels like she is right there speaking and caring about her reader.

Sometimes, the switch to we can work quite well. I think it needs a new paragraph though. I've seen people switch in the middle of the sentence quite like Jan demonstrated with you, but they use we or us.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--YOU WRITE IN 2ND PERSON

Post by glorybee » Wed Feb 18, 2015 1:09 pm

Just to reiterate--pronouns can be mixed up and used correctly in any POV. Take this passage, which you might see in a typical devotional:

You may be discouraged, but remember this verse from an old hymn that I've always loved:

Fear not, I am with thee, oh be not dismayed
For I am your God, and will still give thee aid
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by my gracious, omnipotent hand.

This was my mother's favorite hymn, and one that would benefit us all to memorize.

***

That passage has I, you, us, my, and my mother, but it is fine, from a writing standpoint (but cobbled together on my phone, so perhaps not the best possible example.)

At any rate, it's probably more vital to recognize the scarcity of 2nd person in fiction, and to have a valid reason to attempt it there.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--YOU WRITE IN 2ND PERSON

Post by Laurie » Wed Feb 18, 2015 10:13 pm

Thanks for your example, Jan. That's helpful. :)

Thanks for your comments, Shann. That's exactly how I want my readers to feel. :)

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Re: Be a Better Writer--YOU WRITE IN 2ND PERSON

Post by dmbowman » Wed Feb 18, 2015 11:47 pm

I think I've come up with another example of the use of 2nd person. (But I might be wrong!)

Medical consents.

"You may or may not receive benefit from this procedure. You may experience other side effects than what is listed in this consent form....."

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Re: Be a Better Writer--YOU WRITE IN 2ND PERSON

Post by Shann » Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:24 am

I did attempt a challenge entry in 2nd person. Not sure if I'll have time to tweak it by the deadline and submit it, but it's fiction. It's done with tongue in check, almost a satire of those '50s public service messages. I'll let you know how it turns out, if I decide to submit it. Either way, it was really nice to write something for me. It's been a while!
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Re: Be a Better Writer--YOU WRITE IN 2ND PERSON

Post by glorybee » Thu Feb 19, 2015 7:17 am

dmbowman wrote:I think I've come up with another example of the use of 2nd person. (But I might be wrong!)

Medical consents.

"You may or may not receive benefit from this procedure. You may experience other side effects than what is listed in this consent form....."

Image

You're right, Diane. Good catch!
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Re: Be a Better Writer--YOU WRITE IN 2ND PERSON

Post by glorybee » Thu Feb 19, 2015 7:17 am

Shann, I look forward to reading it.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--YOU WRITE IN 2ND PERSON

Post by glorybee » Thu Feb 19, 2015 7:18 am

Shann, I look forward to reading it.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--YOU WRITE IN 2ND PERSON

Post by wheelygirl58 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 8:01 pm

Diane, the nurse cartoon with EXTREMELY large syringe, just plain gave the 'willies'!! This is coming from a diabetic, no less!! :lol:
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 This is,another of my life verses!!

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Re: Be a Better Writer--YOU WRITE IN 2ND PERSON

Post by wheelygirl58 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 9:22 pm

O.k., here I go with 2nd person. . .
"You, yes, you the one who thinks of yourself only speck on that third rock from the sun. Well, I've got to tell you,the first off, I AM the one who created that rock where you reside on and I do not consider you a mere speck! You are a child of Mine along with that, because you believe in My Son, Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are also My heir! You are very much loved by Me, My dear child! Please, don't forget that. Oh by the way, you know who is THE speck in this cosmos I created? That fallen angel of Mine, Lucifer, his more common name is Satan. Just remember,the great I AM does love you!"
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 This is,another of my life verses!!

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Re: Be a Better Writer--YOU WRITE IN 2ND PERSON

Post by glorybee » Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:14 pm

It's a clever piece-- but it's not second person. A "you" character is being addressed, but the POV character is the "I" who is speaking. I hope you give it another try!
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Re: Be a Better Writer--YOU WRITE IN 2ND PERSON

Post by Shann » Fri Feb 20, 2015 5:04 pm

I'm not sure how it'll fare, but I give God the glory and you the thanks. I've been busy editing and haven't written anything in quite awhile. It was challenging to write in the 2nd person. It gives me a new appreciation for that voice. Even though I'm not a grandmother yet, it was also quite therapeutic to write and helped me work out some insecurities I was having. After sorting out all the things I've bought for the new baby and stacked the big (very big) boxes according to sizes and types, I knew I had to turn my sample into a story.

Here it is if you'd like to read it. I hope I made you proud. I never would have even thought of something like this, let alone try it if not for your wonderful encouragement. Thank you again, Jan; it was delightful to put on my writing hat again. :grouphug
http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article- ... p?id=50394
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Re: Be a Better Writer--YOU WRITE IN 2ND PERSON

Post by Shann » Fri Feb 20, 2015 5:13 pm

If Wheelie Girl changed the I to God and an occasional he, would that be the second person voice or would he or God still be the MC?

For example: You , yes, you the one who thinks of yourself as only a speck on that third rock from the sun. Well, you need to know first off that God is the one who created that rock where you reside and He does not consider you a mere speck!
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Re: Be a Better Writer--YOU WRITE IN 2ND PERSON

Post by wheelygirl58 » Fri Feb 20, 2015 9:21 pm

Hi, Shann! I think you got it with my piece. :thankssign so much!
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 This is,another of my life verses!!

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