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How would dialogue in 2nd person look like?

Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Brigid, Feb 12, 2017.

  1. Brigid

    Brigid Member

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    He lied if you believe that God really is the author of the bible. You know what those freaking editors do to original texts. How often did a published book look nothing like the original? There you have it.
     
  2. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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  3. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Please let's stay on topic. This is not the place to debate religion.
     
  4. Dracon

    Dracon Member

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    The only time I've seen second person done is in those gamebooks ("If you hit the zombie over the head with a frying pan, turn to page 124" that sort of stuff!) like Give Yourself Goosebumps. I would think it would be very difficult to do in a proper novel because 'you' probably make some very stupid decisions, or the character 'you' does stuff that you yourself wouldn't do in real life, which would be a bit off-putting. The challenge in second person would be getting that character immersion. The Give Yourself Goosebumps are intentionally a bit silly, so get away with it, and the point is that you're playing the game.
     
  5. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    The Fifth Season is written partly in second person, and that's an incredible novel. It's SFF, so none of what the "you" is doing is even possible. I had no problems with character immersion, and none of it seemed silly.
     
  6. Brigid

    Brigid Member

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  7. RaitR_Grl

    RaitR_Grl Member

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    I don't know how 2nd-person would work in dialogue, but I once read a couple of books written in 2nd person POV. Have you ever heard of R.L. Stine's Goosebumps books? Basically, they're like semi-horror for kids. Within the series, he also had a miniseries called "Give Yourself Goosebumps," in which the reader was the main character For example, "You decide to take the elevator instead of the stairs." Stuff like that. Also, since it was 2nd-person POV, the story was written in the present tense. Just something else to keep in mind if you're considering this POV style.
     
  8. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure I understand the connection you're making between second person and present tense. Can you elaborate?
     
  9. RaitR_Grl

    RaitR_Grl Member

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    Like I said about that "Give Yourself Goosebumps" miniseries, the stories were written in both 2nd-person POV and present tense. For example, R.L. Stine always wrote something like, "You TAKE the elevator" instead of "you TOOK the elevator." Since the reader IS the main character, events in the book are happening right now, not like most other books where the reader is an outsider looking into a character's mind where things already happened, or the book is in the past tense.

    So if you're looking to write in 2nd-person, I would say to also write in present tense.
     
  10. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    I don't think second person does inherently better in present instead of past.

    The reader can be implicated as a character in either.

    But, even then, I don't generally see myself as a character in second-person. I see the "you" as the editorial "you." And when I write it, the narrator is speaking to a character "you" not the reader.
     
    BayView likes this.
  11. RaitR_Grl

    RaitR_Grl Member

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    Oh, that was the impression I got when I read those books, that when the author wrote "you", he intended for the reader to be the main character, since the MC was never given a name.
     
  12. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    I think in the specific example you're referencing that it is meant to be the reader (you). It's a Choose Your Own Destiny type thing (if I'm remembering there was some "turn to page such and such if.." in those books). But, the choice of present tense isn't inherent to that sort of story. It can be handled in past, too. What I mean is there is no real connection between second person and present tense. Just like past tense isn't inherent to third person. It's just a decision the author made for whatever reason. In R.L.'s case, those books are made for a younger audience and present tense has been more popular in MG and YA fiction. It could have been a "write for your market" thing.
     
  13. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, the MC in a lot of second person I've read is clearly a defined character, not a reader-stand-in. Bright Lights Big City's "you" is a 20-something male, recently divorced/separated, living in New York City... not me as a reader. The "you" for the second person short I wrote is a gay teenager growing up in Texas... not me as a reader (or a writer). The "you" in Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas is, as I recall, a young stock broker dealing with a market crash.

    The Choose your own adventure model is one form of second person, for sure, but it's not the only one.

    That said, a lot of the second person I've read HAS been in present tense. I agree that it's not a requirement, but... there seems to be a connection...
     

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