Reading & Writing

Writing Exercise: The Second Person

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Boy bands love the second person.

Have you ever written in the second person? (By which I mean the narrative addresses some sort of “you.”) It’s not a particularly popular style but there are some good examples of it out there. Cherry by Mary Karr is an entire memoir written in the second person. Self-Help by Lorrie Moore uses the second person in short stories. And then there’s What Would Your Mother Say by Laura Ender–

Wait, you haven’t heard of that one? Oh, right. Not published. (Yet. Adding the word “yet” will make me feel better.) That’s my novel, which is sort of on hold at the moment after a long period of submissions (Thank you, Kate! I love you! I mean, I’ve never met you in person and I don’t know your favorite color or if you have a dog or anything but you took a chance on my novel so I love you.) because I’ve had some creative epiphany/realized it just isn’t good enough.

Anyhow, my novel is written entirely in the second person. A risky choice, I know, and certainly something that has made certain editors hesitate, but it’s right for the book and I will stand by it. But I’ve been away from my second person novel for a long time, writing in the first and third like a normal person. So I need to get back into it. So this exercise is completely self-serving but maybe you’ll enjoy it, too.

So that’s the brief: write in the second person. Take it wherever you want to. Five minutes. Go.

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