Why You Should Try Writing in Second Person

by Melissa Tydell | 175 comments

Fiction writers tend to depend on first person or third person point of view—you’ve been there, done that. But what about writing in second person? It may seem strange, unconventional, or confining, but playing with point of view is one way to transform a story.

Point of view affects a story in that it offers readers a very specific perspective of the story events. Second person narration is no different. In this post, let's define second person point of view and then talk about three reasons why you should try writing in second person.

What is second person point of view?

Second person point of view is when you tell the story from the perspective of someone else– the reader. It's like being a fly on the wall as someone else experiences something. You're not in their head, but rather observing and narrating their actions and feelings from outside of them.

It can be a bit tricky to write in because it requires that you take on a different narrative voice and be conscious of the words that you use. It assumes a sense of intimacy as you direct the reader.

Questions about point of view? Check out our full guide here.

How do you know something is written in second person POV?

It will use second person pronouns to capture the action: you, your, yours. It projects the action and thoughts of the reader in an immersive experience.

Here's an fiction example from Margaret Atwood's short story “Bread”:

Imagine a piece of bread. You don't have to imagine it, it's right here in the kitchen, on the breadboard, in its plastic bag, lying beside the bread knife. The bread knife is an old one you picked up at an auction; it has the word BREAD carved into the wooden handle. You open the bag, pull back the wrapper, cut yourself a slice.

Notice how the Atwood tells you the reader what you see and how you're acting. She puts you inside the story as the second person narrator.

Why try writing in second person?

Here are three reasons:

1. Second person pulls the reader into the action.

Especially if you write in the present tense, second person allows the reader to experience the story as if it’s their own. To avoid a “choose your own adventure story” feel or an aggressive tone, mix up sentence structure and add in description and dialogue. Using the second person pronoun “you” and describing action as it happens supplies a personal sense of immediacy or urgency, propelling the story—and the reader—forward.

Example: You’re late. Heart pounding, you race up the stairs as the train enters the station. With a deep breath, you weave around the slow-moving people milling on the platform and dash towards the train, throwing your body through the doorway with only a moment to spare.

Notice how the sensory experience is heightened here for the reader because the narrative perspective projects the action on you.

2. Second person gets personal.

One way to experiment with second person is to write as if the story is a letter from the narrator to “you,” reflecting on past events and current feelings, asking questions. (It doesn’t have to be in an actual letter form; the idea of a letter is simply a way to describe the intimate tone.)

This technique isn't necessarily “pure” second person POV, as it pairs “you” with the narrator’s first-person point of view, but it allows you to dip a toe in the second-person perspective. At the same time, it gives readers a peek into a relationship, a memory, and a character’s emotions.

Example: You told me to meet you at the bar. Things hadn’t been going well, but I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly was wrong. Did you plan on breaking my heart that night? We locked eyes as I walked through the entrance, and I knew things were coming to an end.

3. Second person stretches your skills and surprises readers.

Because it’s not often used, the second person point of view can feel fresh to readers. And for writers, it means a new way of telling a story, a different way of revealing character. In this way, it offers a new perspective for writers and readers alike.

Second person might not be the right fit for every story. (And there are always readers who don't love second person for fiction writing!) But it's worth the time to play with the voice and urgency that second person narratives require, if for no other reason than to expand your writing prowess.

Second person writing and your choice of perspective

Choosing your viewpoint character matters because it dictates how your reader will experience the story. A second person POV story blurs the lines between story and personal experience in a way that can be interesting and maybe uncomfortable.

But if you are after an engaging experience, and you can carefully curate the second person voice in a way that resonates with readers, a second person narrative voice may be a choice that transforms your next story. Give it a try and let us know how it goes!

Need help deciding on your point-of-view? Unsure about the differences between first-person, third person limited and third person omniscient perspectives? Read our full article on Point of View and download our handy POV cheatsheet here

Have you written a story in the second person point of view? Tell us how it went in the comments


Write for fifteen minutes in the second person point of view.

When you’re finished, please share your practice in the Pro Practice Workshop. And if you post, please respond to some of the other comments too!

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Melissa Tydell is a freelance writer, content consultant, and blogger who enjoys sharing her love of the written word with others. You can connect with Melissa through her website, blog, or Twitter.


  1. Chihuahua Zero

    For a few poems I wrote lately, I used both the pure 2nd person narration and the one described in #2. I’m submitting one of them to my school newspaper, since I already used the other one for a school assignment.

    • Melissa

      Very cool! Glad to hear you’re already experimenting with this POV.

  2. DT Clifton

    The beginning of a memoir, of which an agent said 120 pages in the second person was too much. I’m still torn on whether to take the advice into account. If you like it theres more here- theransomletters.wordpress.com

    Anyone who has ever had their heart shit on, enjoyed needle drugs, or rotted away in sub-Saharan Africa just might have witnessed things, and could have something worthwhile to say. Worth what I haven’t the faintest idea. This is a story, it could be mine or it could be yours. In all reality it is of little significance, the Africa part, because you and I both know a new town is a discovery and a new place in which to repeat old habits, like placating unchecked impulse, living beyond your means, or spending other peoples’ money.

    This could be you if you have a penchant for travel. If you have ever reveled in foreign lands during sunsets with him or her around your arm. If you have ever lusted over others’ lives for alternative endings than festering in this hot room. If you have ever fucked around with someone else’s significant other to this end.
    So you have fucked someone over too. No doubt you have promised yourself you would never do it again, ambling home at sun-up, when the heartbreaking purity of birds chirping made you feel like dirt. This is you if you are going through a midlife crisis at 30. Don’t fret; you’ll only make it to 60.

    You are a filthy traveler. Whichever came first, the road or the dirt, is of little importance- low standards can get you further in life than you would imagine. Further, because you wish to lose yourself in the ways of other countries, and translate your thoughts into numerous languages until you no longer understand them. You, traveler without a choice, you are not one for a guide book or youth hostels. No, guide books are like coloring books for experience, and for hostels, well all the flag flapping makes it hard to get any forgetting done. What’s more, it is unworkable to smoke exotic drugs without alerting several bunk mates with
    conservative tendencies.

    You travel with a knife. You travel for life because of a fear of boredom. You don’t wish to go home because you can’t write letters there. You drink too much in certain cultures but you avoid those places. Yet you have been there; In some other Himalayas and meditating. It was just another experience in life, one of the
    infinite choices that made it impossible to choose ONE, like a kid in a candy shop. You see, this could be you.

    Oscillating desires pave dead end roads. I’ll meet you at the end of any given one at any given time. Perhaps you are my age and possibly you are not. What proceeds is a tale of an ageless idiot, or God’s divine creation, it is incumbent on how you look at it. You be the judge of God’s divine creation…

    • BernardT

      Nice work. I found it quite rich, in the sense of having a lot packed into a relatively small number of words – that’s a great thing in a small piece like a short story, less so in a longer piece. I wonder if that is inherent in the 2nd person approach, it will always be more intense just because it is so personal? FWIW, I tend to agree with your agent – keeping this up for too long is very hard work.

    • mariannehvest

      I love the third paragraph here. You made a point there that I think is hard to make in writing “low standards can get you further in life than you would imagine” What a thing to say. Well done!

  3. BernardT

    Not exactly “If on a Winter’s Night…” but here goes:

    You’ve been out. Nowhere special, just some routine errands. A trip to the shops to get food for tonight’s dinner, maybe. Or perhaps you had a very important letter to post, and had to go to the Post Office to buy a stamp before dropping the letter in the box outside. It could even be that it was something more important, like a visit to the doctor to receive some test results that you have been worrying about for the last week.

    Whatever. It’s done now, and you have come back home. You got your key from the place where you keep it, put it in the lock, and let yourself in. There is the familiar and yet still irritatingly urgent beeping of the burglar alarm, you have just thirty seconds to enter the correct code before all hell lets loose. You don’t want that to happen, not today at any rate, so you punch the right buttons and the system gives a little chirrup to let you know that all is well.

    You shut the front door and there, stuck in the letter box, is today’s post. You take it out, and the spring on the flap does its thing and closes up the gap with a snap. No fingers caught today, happily. You examine the post, it doesn’t look very exciting. There is a flyer for a pizza delivery service, and from someone who seems to be very keen to clean your carpets. This looks like a bill, it can go in the pile with all the others. Another one is from a charity, you gave them some money once when your uncle died because it was his charity, now they won’t leave you alone. But no real post, nobody writes letters anymore.

    Once upon a time people did write letters. You can remember getting them from your parents if you were visiting somewhere, maybe staying with a distant aunt for the summer so that you could get a change of scenery and they could get a rest. You also recall having to write “thank you” letters whenever you received a gift. But no longer.

    Today people write emails, perhaps you will have better luck there. So you take off your coat and hang it on the hook, which really looks like it will fall off the wall any day now, you really ought to get round to mending that. You go into your office, where the computer is, and switch it on.

    As it starts, there is a big swoosh of air as the fans start up, almost as if it is clearing its lungs before having to say something very important. Then, after a little longer, the screen bursts into life and the little coloured icons appear. One of them is for your email program, so you click that. For some reason you’ve never understood you have to click it twice – why is that, why once for some things and twice for others? You think they make this deliberately difficult, to keep ordinary people like you out of this special place.

    You have mail! Not too much spam today, that’s a good thing. But no personal messages either, just the electronic equivalent of the circulars that you’ve just had through your letter box. Ah, what’s this, a message from The Write Practice? An invitation to write a piece in the second person? What a silly idea, you’d never dream of doing such a thing.

    • plumjoppa

      Nicely done! I felt like I was stepping through your morning with you, or were you stepping through mine? The “you” perspective really shakes it up!

    • Marla4

      Well, this is just brilliant. I love the feeling of this piece, the observations of everyday life. And the ending is perfect, of course.

    • Tom Wideman

      Very clever. I loved how you brought the minutia of life into brilliant focus. Great job.

    • KP


      Wahaha, I loved the end of your story! What a clever little twist. 🙂 I really like all the little details you put in to make it seem like an average day, I’m a huge fan of details – I think they can make a good story a really great one.


    • mariannehvest

      Ha! This kind of irritated with life person who expects little things to go wrong it well appreciated by this reader. I like the part where the computer takes a breath before busting to life. Fun read thanks.

  4. Tepagasco

    For a great example of how this can be executed without coming off as cheesy, check out chapter 10 (“out of body”) of Jennifer Egan’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, A Visit From the Goon Squad.

  5. Staci Troilo

    It’s weird that you posted this today because I’ve been toying with this very concept. A few panels I’ve attended lately have said this can’t be done effectively (except for Bright Lights, Big City and role play books) so I took it as a challenge. I’ve had an idea that I’ve been exploring, just to prove them wrong, but I keep sneaking in an occasional “I” every now and then. Once it’s polished, though, I plan on submitting it somewhere. I am concerned, though, that it won’t be well received just because it’s a second person POV. The panels suggest that some people won’t even read second person POV stories. Have you found that to be true?

    • Melissa

      Perhaps someone else can chime in re: submissions, but I think using second person is a challenge so when it’s done well, it’s spectacular. There are plenty who say to avoid it, but hey, it’s there to play with — might as well get creative!

    • Staci Troilo

      Thanks. I am trying one now. It’s challenging, but kind of fun.

  6. plumjoppa

    I just read the short essay “Welcome to Holland” by Emily Perl Kingsley for the first time, yesterday. I can’t stop thinking about it, and now I know why. It’s written in the 2nd person!

  7. Marla4

    At midnight, when you are filled with manicotti and yellow
    cake, you will vow to diet tomorrow. You will feel the dimpled flesh of your
    thighs, as spongy as your Tempurpedic mattress, and feel shame. Remember the summer you wore the blue bikini?
    Remember the way your hair, even tied in a high pony tail, fell past your
    shoulders? Remember the boys who
    gathered round you, their eyes drinking you in? You’ll want to feel that way
    again. The thighs, I’m sorry to tell you, are keeping you from it.

    There are three heart-shaped boxes in your pantry, each
    rummaged through, the caramels now gone, the strawberry creams bitten once and
    shoved back into their fluted wrappers.
    By nine on the following morning you’ll be eyeing those boxes, the Valentine
    candy you bought for yourself, even though it’s still January.

    By ten, you will have eaten every last piece. It would make
    sense to cry here, but you won’t. Instead, you will rise, walk to your Viking
    stove that’s the same blue as your old bikini.
    You will pull butter from the refrigerator, and mushrooms and Asiago
    cheese. You’ll grab the bottle of cooking sherry and two T-bone steaks wrapped
    in white paper.

    The flame on the Viking will also glow blue, and you will
    stare into it, your cast iron skillet in your hand, so heavy you almost drop
    it. You’ll let the skillet grow hot on
    the flame, then add a stick of butter.
    The mushrooms, you’ll rinse them once and then throw them in whole, and
    they’ll sizzle in the browning butter, the sound like thunder on this quiet
    morning. By the time the steaks go in,
    you’ll be an artist, using food as your paint.
    The blue Viking is your canvas, the sky, the color of the night Grady took
    you to his bed, his hands quick, his breathing sharp.

    The apron you’ll wear has the image of a fifties housewife on
    the front. She is holding a cupcake. The caption reads: It Ain’t Gonna Lick
    Itself. You bought it on a whim, feeling
    frisky, but Grady didn’t like it. He said it was cheap, like your dyed red
    hair, so you put it away.

    But he is gone now, isn’t he? You can imagine him, his arm around that heartbreakingly
    thin girl he met at work. Take heart.
    She has problems of her own. The kind that will make your dimpled thighs seem
    like a Sunday school picnic. And when he thinks of you, it is always the way
    you looked on that first night, your breasts like full moons, your shoulders
    pale as the white sheets as he lowered himself to you, like a man giving into
    the sea.

    • Melissa

      Very cool to see the use of second person with future tense, especially as it’s contrasted with the memories of the past — an effective way to get that sense of nostalgia and regret across.

    • plumjoppa

      I agree! Excellent job working the tenses, Marla. Always a struggle for me. Plus, you made me wish I had mushrooms in the house.

    • Marla4

      Thanks so much.

    • Marla4

      Thank you!

    • Tom Wideman

      Marla, even though I’m a guy, I could resonate with so much of your story. You had my attention with your first sentence. I make those vows nightly in between burps. I loved your description of the Valentine candy. I thought I was the only one who ate the caramels first and left the strawberry creme until I was truly desperate. The whole story felt so real and full of regret. Great job!

    • Marla4

      Thank you Tom. Glad we agree on chocolates!

    • mariannehvest

      Great writing as usual Marla. I have a bikini in mine too. Well great minds and all that ; ).

    • Marla4

      I promise your mind was much greater than mine today! I love your story.

    • Giulia Esposito

      I love this piece. Quite a few of the lines are really very poetic.

    • SC

      Sad and sumptuous all at once. I like it.

    • Susan Lee Anderson

      I can imagine the imagery that came to you as you wrote this. What a delicious discovery! I like the Viking blue, and the retro 50’s picture. I also like the humor and poignancy of this: (She has problems of her own. The kind that will make your dimpled thighs seem like a Sunday school picnic.) Great practice!

    • wendy2020

      Wow. Sadly, this piece makes me wish I had chocolate in the house.

      Very well done!

    • Vale Monroe

      Wow… this is quite beautiful, you explore such an interesting subject and the style in the piece really just draws the reader in.

    • kateitskate

      Marla, this is fantastic. It’s ferocious and mixes action with daydream, that sense of recall – the last lines, “And when he thinks of you, it is always the way you looked…” felled me. Thank you for sharing. LOVE it.

  8. David L

    The cold morning air scratches your throat with each labored breath. It is as if you are swallowing a handful of thumb tacks or maybe a really strong and bad shot of tequila with each gasp. This is not the thick coastal air you are used to breathing. This is the least of your problems though…

    The ridge looms ahead and above you taunting you with every glance. Already you are at 12,000 feet in elevation, the ridge is another 1,000 feet of elevation gain and appears to be perfectly vertical. Doubts flood your mind – you will not make it, your body is strong enough, why didn’t you choose the Caribbean vacation instead? Not only is your mind working against you, your head throbs with each beat of your heart. Your lungs cannot be satisfied with normal breaths. Your thighs and calves are throbbing and seem to be in perpetual cramps. And to top it all off, the three blisters on each foot have popped and have now become open wounds. Your options are this: you can quit and go back down to the comfort of the Holiday Inn, you can lay down and die, or you can trudge on.

    You trudge on. One painful, ascending step after another.

    After an hour of struggle you come to the top of the ridge that connects Bard Peak and Sliver Plume Mountain. You are so stunned at what you see that your physical ailments become a memory! On the far eastern horizon are Mount Evans and Mount Bierstadt, connected by the ominous Sawtooth Ridge. As you pan to the south and west the twin peaks of Grays and Torreys appear so close that perhaps you could walk to them in fifteen minutes. Farther to south and west are the peaks of the Tenmile and Mosquito Ranges. Farther still to the south and west are the northern peaks of the Sawatch Range forming the right side of your panorama. Vast, beautiful, overwhelming – all three understating what you see and feel. Every gasp, throb, ache, blister, and hardship seem an inconsequential price to pay for standing at this place.

    • Tom Wideman

      That’s great, David. I was exhausted after the first paragraph. I recalled how my wife and i climb squaw peak in Phoenix. It’s only a mile and a half up, but it wears me out. Thanks for helping me imagine climbing a real mountain without actually having to do it.

    • mariannehvest

      That as lovely. It reminds me of why people enjoy mountain climbing.

    • Marla4

      You captured this perfectly!

  9. plumjoppa

    If you drove past the red roofed barn where daylight shutters through the wooden planks, you would never guess what lies in the forest glade. If you stopped your car beside the field of wild daisies, just past the crumbling silo, you would notice the cow path that leads into the woods. But unless you got out of your car and walked along the hoof-pocked path, you would never know about the small clearing in the woods. You would never know that bones lay on the moss beside the dry creek bed in the field of ferns.

    But if you arrived at the right moment, and hid behind the outcrop of rocks, you would see Carl kneeling in the field of ferns, severing the leg off of the wounded cat. You would see him wrapping it in the burlap sack, tying it behind the saddle, and galloping away on his horse.

    If you happened to run into Carl at the Thirsty Cow on a Friday night, you might hear his stories about scooping up the road kill. The job no one wants. The job you don’t even know exists until there is a deer carcass sprawled feet from your front door. You don’t know there is someone to call for this until the turkey vultures are circling and perching and tearing maggoty flesh from the deer’s bones.

    You could move it yourself, but you’re worried about disease, Lyme, parasites, and the smell. The smell becomes a constant presence in your home, it lives in your teeth because it doesn’t matter if you try not to breathe through your nose. You still smell it inside your mouth. It coats everything, and you start cleaning even though it won’t help.

    Nothing will help until Carl comes and scoops the carcass into his wooden paneled truck. Only then does the stench slowly recede from your doorstep. You don’t think about where it goes after this. You can’t imagine the place where it
    goes, bone upon bone, scavengers of the sky and soil desecrating what’s left of
    that life, the white tail once bobbing over fences.

    But this is his job, and if you saw Carl on a usual day, tossing a dear carcass, you would know this cat is different. You would hear him cry and whisper “Annie”
    into the wind.

    • Staci Troilo

      That one’s going to haunt me for a while. Poor Carl! Great job.

    • David L

      Well done!

    • Tom Wideman

      Very powerful! I can still smell the rotting carcass. The last sentence is very moving. Great job!

    • mariannehvest

      Wow!!! That was amazing. I like the words “hood pocked” at the beginning. What is up with the cat though. Why is he crying and whispering to “Annie” at the end if he cut the legs off of a wounded (I assume it’s not dead because you said wounded) cat. It’s either very creepy if he’s some kind of cat torturer or very sad if Annie was a pet and when you wrote wounded you also meant that she was dead.

    • Giulia Esposito

      I agree with Marianne, I was a little confused with the cat as well. But this is a great piece Plum 🙂 It creeped me out a little, that line about the smell living in your (my) teeth…ugh!! Great practice!!

    • plumjoppa

      Unfortunately, a deer died behind my house after coyotes attacked it. It took a long time to find the source of the smell, and even longer for the turkey vultures to finally leave.

    • Giulia Esposito

      Oh my God, that’s horrible. No wonder the images were so vivid, you lived it.

    • plumjoppa

      Thanks for your comments Marianne! There’s more to the cat story, but I should have left it out for the purposes of the practice, or developed it more. I appreciate the feedback.

    • mariannehvest

      That goes to show how just a sentence or two can make a big difference in a readers perception of a character.

    • Li

      Fantastic! You used 2nd person perspective very naturally. I was there.

    • Marla4

      Wow! I love the line about the smell getting in your teeth. Carl is a great character.

    • SC

      I love the ‘if’ on top of ‘if’ construction that draws you in. Good stuff.

    • plumjoppa

      Thanks so much everyone! I’ve been tossing Carl around for awhile, but never really thought of second person. It was fun to see him differently.

  10. Marla Rose Brady

    I guess that’s why I like the book “Fight Club” so much. Really puts you in the moment, makes you feel connected to the writer. It’s also why I liked “Choose Your Own Adventure” books back in the day. lol

  11. Tom Wideman

    You walk among the half-naked children who surround you begging for money and food. Your soft eyes sparkle in comparison to their dark eyes of want. Your mouth quivers an uncomfortable smile as you contemplate your next move. You know if you reach your hand into your bag, a dozen more slum kids will surge towards you, creating a tidal wave of desperation. You have more than you can ever use, so it only makes sense to pay it forward to these innocents of poverty and heartache.

    You look up and notice your tour group seeking respite on the bus. The stench and the flies are just too much. Your once-compassionate eyes begin to glare in disgust and panic as one-by-one your tour mates step into the air conditioned coach, leaving you with an ever expanding mob. Your breathing accelerates as your heart begins to pound. It feels as if it might explode. You see the doors of the tour bus begin to close and you yell out in terror.

    “Wait! Stop,” you scream out over the clamor.

    Shooing the kids from your personal space, you make your way to the bus. You hear the children crying and you don’t even turn to wave goodbye.

    • mariannehvest

      I think that was one of the best things I’ve read by you Tom. It was very immediate. I was there. Well done.

    • Marla4

      Great transformation here, Tom. Good writing.

    • Susan Lee Anderson

      You would feel like the little you could give would never be enough. I get it. Convicting and thought provoking.

  12. Rebecca Klempner

    I’ve wanted to do this for a long time. I think you’ve convinced me to take the leap.

    • Melissa

      Awesome — you should definitely go for it!

  13. mariannehvest

    Sorry for the few cuss words at the end but she said them, not me.

    You’re walking the boardwalk in a pink bikini. Your toenails are painted lavender. You have a killer tan. Everybody’s watching you except the blind and maybe they are getting some kind of idea of how totally cool you are.

    It’s a good day; breezy and not packed tight with tourists. There’s a problem though. It’s that old Greek you worked for. He said that you’re “a criminal”, says you have a “bad mind”. But there’s nothing wrong with your brain. You’ve always been sexy and guys like to buy stuff for you like dinner, and records and jewelry and rides on the roller cooster. What’s wrong with that?

    You hear Joe Cocker singing from a loudspeaker. That means you’re near the Beach Club where you worked for that stupid Greek. You need to pee and your feet are getting hot from walking barefoot. The Beach Club has a bathroom. The Greek said he’d call the cops if you came back in the club. He says you stole money from the register. Prove it man, you think.

    Inside it’s dark and chilly. You take off your shades to find the bathroom. It’s dirty, with a wet floor, a pine sol smell, and no toilet paper. There’s some cool graffiti though, coolest grafitti at the beach. You started it with “psychedelic drugs sold here” in smooth, even handwriting. It’s hard to write on a metal door with a can opener but you got it right. Some of the other girls used lipstick, but not you. You made a permanent impression. People don’t forget you.

    You get to the cocktail bar without running into the Greek. You don’t care if he sees you or not. What’s he going to do anyway?

    You see a surfer dude at the bar so you move in. He smells good, like coconut suntan lotion. You bump into him and say “Oh sorry.”

    He smiles, so you kind of look at the bar, like you might be thinking about a beer. He doesn’t offer to buy, so you bend over the bar, grab a glass, hold it under the spigot, and hit the Bud lever. It’s hard to do that from the outside of the bar but you’re a great bartender, freaky fast. The real bartender sees you and tells you to pay. You say you forgot your purse and look at the surfer. He pays for the beer and says he’s going to the bathroom. He doesn’t come back. You figure he must be a queer.

    Then the Greek shows up, calls you a bum and asks you to leave. You want to say he’s a stupid son of a bitch, but you just chug your beer and head out. There’s another bar in the next block and your feet have cooled down. You shouldn’t have lowered yourself to work there anyway. There are classier places to work but you felt sorry for the Greek and took the job at his crappy club.

    He took advantage of you for sure. That’s how people are. You do them favors and they give you back nothing but a bunch of shit.

    • Tom Wideman

      Wow, Marianne! That poor girl appears to be stuck in her own world of denial and self-sabotage. I felt the angst of her frustration and pitiful coping skills, yet there was still something about her that made her likable and caused me to root for her. Great job!

    • mariannehvest

      Thanks Tom. I might use her again. She seems to have made an impression. I hate characters like this in a way though because I just don’t see her getting better but you can never tell what will happen once you start writing.

    • Marla4

      My gosh, Marianne. This is so good! I love this line. “Everybody’s watching you except the blind and maybe they are getting some kind of idea of how totally cool you are.”

      I felt like I was right there with this girl. What a great character. Love, love, love this.

    • mariannehvest

      Thanks Marla. I kind of like her. She reminds me of some of the people I waitressed with at the beach when I was young.

    • Abigail Rogers

      This is a perfect use of second person, Marianne! It gets you into the skin of a character that you might otherwise despise, but since you *are* her you feel a little empathy. Fantastic work.

    • Giulia Esposito

      I agree Abigail, instead of thinking this character was a real pill, I kind felt more like she was making excuses for her behaviour, and I can sympathize with that.

    • mariannehvest

      I agree about her making excuses.

    • mariannehvest

      Thanks it was kind of an accusatory way to write. Weird.

    • Carmen

      Second person was great here, can’t resist sympathising with character while at the same time being informed of her less-than-noble thoughts. Reminded my of the chapter on character Tralala (a bratty prostitute) in Last Exit to Brooklyn.

    • mariannehvest

      Wow that’s quite a compliment. I haven’t read “Last Exit to Brooklyn” but did read “Requiem for a Dream”. It was so sad I couldn’t finish it but the characters although very different from anyone in my life were well done in an unusual way. I wonder if it’s the second person that makes us sympathetic. It’s like someone it telling the reader what happened and most people are inclined to be sympathetic (at first anyway) to other people’s problems. You gave me a lot to think of here. Thank you.

    • Susan Lee Anderson

      This young lady surely has it all figured out. I love that about beach bums. I like the description of the salty bathroom. Second person works here because we’ve all known someone like this. Good characterization here. I liked it.

    • mariannehvest

      Thank you for reading and commenting.

    • Juliana Austen

      So good, Marianne!

    • mariannehvest

      Thanks Juliana

  14. Madison

    You didn’t want to talk to me, was that it? Were you angry? Did your love run out?Why were you so exhausted? I can keep your secrets. I kept your smoking from daddy because we both knew how every 5 second drag would hurt him. It crushes him seeing you so blue. Do you even realize that? You were suppose to spend the rest of your lives together. You were suppose to die for each other. Why are you hurting him? Unless it was a dream. This could be a dream right? You would never do anything like that. I know you couldn’t. You only kept your smoking from daddy so he wouldn’t be upset and you only didn’t tell him about that one time you kissed Uncle Robert in the car so he wouldn’t leave us. You did that for us. I know you did. You’re not evil. You’re just pretending. I know you are, but I don’t wanna play anymore, mommy. This game is lonely. Please come back. You’re not a bad mommy. You’re just pretending.

    • Marla4

      Wow! Powerful writing. I like the excuses that keep coming up here.

    • Madison

      Thank you so much!

    • Giulia Esposito

      Oh, this is so sad. It sounds like a a little kid talking. Great writing.

    • Madison

      Yes! You picked up on it. Thank you so much for that!

    • Giulia Esposito

      You’re welcome. Thank you for bringing the child’s perceptive to light. Children so rarely have voices.

    • mariannehvest

      This is a good idea and well written. It would be better without the last few lines if it were part of a longer piece. I can see that you need to include that here because we are not going to read further but I can see this narrator as one of multiple narrators in a novel (of even a short story although I know it’s sacrilege to consider multiple narrators in a short story).

    • Madison

      Thank you!

    • Susan Lee Anderson

      Wow. I had to read this twice. Very insightful. Of course, little children lead us. Good job.

    • Madison

      Thank you very much!

  15. DS

    I haven’t read anything quite as entertaining or helpful. Great real examples and a good set of practice. I haven’t written a second person story before – but look to add it to one of my daily practice sessions.

    • Deb Atwood

      Yes, these exercises are fun. One of my very favorite stories is written in second person–How to Talk to a Hunter by Pam Houston. I highly recommend checking it out!

  16. SC

    “You are a bad lover.”

    You’re half-asleep next to my Robert when you hear this. It wakes you up because even though it’s a whisper, it’s also really loud. This detail freaks you out, and you’re already pretty damn freaked out by a mystery voice insulting you at four in the morning – not to mention the fact that it seems to know quite a lot about your sexual skills. The weird thing is, this voice sounds kind of familiar to you. You’ve been hearing it every night for the last month and yet you still can’t quite place it. And every night there’s a new insult. Yesterday you were a fat queen. Last week, you were a second-rate squash player, a premature ejaculator and the worst cook in the whole world. You take a deep breath and tell yourself that you’ve been working too hard, that you should start yoga again, that you should take a trip to the lake cabin with him this weekend. You close your eyes and try to go back to sleep but you can’t.

    In the morning you leave him sleeping and get in the shower. You’re soaping up your pot belly and humming some irritating song, trying to shake the sleepless night. But suddenly you get the feeling that someone’s watching you. So you grab the shower curtain and pull it around you but you do this so fast that you trip and fall out of the shower. Again you hear that whispering voice that’s also inexplicably loud. You think it says, “Loser” but you’re not sure because you’ve just banged your head on your expensive sink.

    Then you drive too fast and you look in the rear-view mirror too often. You are sweaty. You turn left before the Jones’ farm and head up the back track through the woods until you reach that cluster of trees and park behind them, out of sight. You pull on your boots, grab your spade and stomp angrily or impatiently or nervously through the woods. Soon you see the pile of stones and push through the bushes into the clearing. You walk past the oak tree and start digging.

    You’re getting angrier and redder with every spade of dirt shovelled. And your designer jeans are getting dirtier. But the bottom never comes and you don’t understand. So you jump down into the pit and start digging with your bare fingers. Then you see it. You stop breathing for an instant. Your eyes are even more blood-shoot than normal and your mouth is pinched tight. You pick up the damp, muddy piece of paper and you read: HE’LL ALWAYS BE MY BOYFRIEND. You throw yourself down on the ground. You cry, you laugh, you cry again. You rub your face in the soil. You slam your hands into the earth and kick your
    legs. You’re finally coming undone. Then you hear that loud whisper again.
    Except this time it doesn’t say anything, it just laughs.

    • Giulia Esposito

      This is a very interesting piece. Thanks for sharing!

    • Marla4

      So very good!

    • SC

      Thanks for the comments! First time I’ve posted so good to get some feedback. Will be back again.

    • plumjoppa

      Very haunting and mysterious.

    • mariannehvest

      This sounds like a really psychotic person thinking. Interesting and the writing is solid.

    • Puja

      Really well-written and interesting (not to mention freaky! haha)

  17. Giulia Esposito

    It’s hard to talk to you. You never really hear what I have to say. You listen patiently, but you don’t hear. I know you are only concerned, worried about me. If I’m sad, healthy, happy, if everything is okay. You don’t really believe me when I say I do. Or accept my point of view as just as valid as yours. You make me feel like all my choices are wrong. Your worry suffocates me. I get overwhelmed with your fears, your thoughts invading mine. You silence my own emotions, because without meaning to, you make me carry your worries. I cannot bear them. It hurts, always saying I need space and your incomprehension of that need; you take that need and twist into something I never intended. Something I wasn’t saying at all.

    And now you’re upset because I won’t talk to you at all. But I don’t know what to
    say. Or how to say it. So it’s easier to remain silent. You say you know me so
    well, implying with your dismissal of my own efforts at communicating my
    thoughts and needs, that I don’t know myself as well as you know me. It angers
    me, this presumption that you can know what is in my soul. You scoff at such
    declarations as being dramatic. So over the years, I’ve fallen silent. Silence
    hurts less than the talking we do.

    You asked why I don’t talk to you anymore, and that’s why Mom. Because it’s hard.

    • mariannehvest

      Wow. All mom’s should read this. The part about thinking you know someone better than they know themselves is poignant. I will try to keep this in mind when I talk to my daughter.

    • Giulia Esposito

      Glad it resonated. I wrote for all the daughters out there. And all the mothers too. I know it’s hard to be either person in that relationship.

    • plumjoppa

      As soon as I got to “your worry suffocates me,” I knew this had to be from the child’s pov. Nice job!

    • Susan Lee Anderson

      Oh gosh, I knew you were talking about your Mom! A universal interpersonal dilemna!

    • Giulia Esposito

      Funny how we all have the same Mom problems! Let’s not tell my Mom okay?

    • Susan Lee Anderson

      Don’t worry. Even my Mom wouldn’t mind this. She is where I get my honesty. I will hold your confidence.

  18. William Teague

    You come into the book cafe and order a
    cafe latte. Malachi an acquittance and a fellow peruser of the used
    book aisle from last week; hands you a book. It’s ‘If on a winter’s
    night a traveler’ by Italo Calvino.

    Immediately you crack the book open,
    the unique writing style seems somewhat strange, alien, but
    refreshing. You read on and think, there’s something quite odd about
    this book. You think, could it be the fact that it was translated
    from Italian to English. Though a bit confusing at first you continue
    to push and read on. Suddenly you discover that the character in the
    story seems to parallel your own thoughts and feelings as you
    question the authors unique voice and style. The character has
    similar questions and concerns as you do. Then you have an Aha
    experience! Of course! That’s it; it is written in the second person
    point of view. And Calvino has a wonderful genius of taking you on a
    journey while aligning your thoughts and ideas with the main
    character; though it’s of a dissimilar subject. You read on….

    • Susan Lee Anderson

      I think that writing in second person helps the writer discover things they may not have known about themselves. Interesting how it works that way.

  19. KP

    You swallow hard, looking at the number flashing on the screen register screen. It’s bigger than you had expected – you’d only come into the store for bananas and paper towels, after all. The number runs into the higher double digits and some odd change and for a moment you stare down the conveyor belt at all the groceries stacked on the other side, waiting to be bagged. The low fat milk, the plastic onion keeper for all those onion halves you always wrap in foil then forget about, the container of Greek yogurt, the dish towels in assorted bright colors, the case of Diet Coke and the stack of frozen dinners in different varieties – chicken, pork and steak. As if any of them taste any different from the others. As if they would ever give you steak in a meal that costs .99c, or .45 when on sale.

    “Is that it?” You jerk as the boy – no older than 19 – drawls and leans backwards, cracking his bony fingers one at a time. He smirks. You shudder inwardly – you hate that noise. Hurriedly swiping your VISA, you punch in your PIN and wait for the beep of confirmation. The blue screen flashes “AUTHORIZING” at you. You want to say, the Diet Coke isn’t for me, it’s for a friend who’s visiting this Friday. The frozen dinners are for when you’re too tired to cook after a long day at work. You think it’s ridiculous you have to explain yourself to the kid behind the register, who probably smokes pot behind his school and will eventually drop out to play bass in some failing band, or maybe go to jail. He has tattoos up and down his left, skulls and spikes and other unpleasant things.

    “Paper or plastic?” The boy behind the register couldn’t be less interested in your silent judgment, his eyes flitting to the girl in the other checkstand and at the clock on the wall and down to where his manager is standing, chatting with people in expensive suits. Everywhere but at you. That’s why he doesn’t notice you slip the small pack of gum into your pocket, fresh mint, your favorite flavor. You take a deep breath, the gum burning a hole in your side, weighing you down so much you’re sure that you’re tilting to the right. Any second now, that manager a few checkstands down will come over and ask you to please empty your pockets and come this way, security will escort you out. Your cheeks flame at the thought.

    “Plastic,” You smile back at him as the register whirs and spits out a receipt as long as your arm. The boy rips it off and stuffs it into a bag along with your milk and yogurt, then hands it to you. For a second, you brush hands and you expect to burst into flames, or for him to suddenly realize you’re a thief, a bloody thief, but he simply waits for you to take your bag with that flat, sullen look.

    “Have a good day,” you say politely and smile, but he is already on to the next customer.

    • Giulia Esposito

      Oh, very cool. I liked this one.

    • plumjoppa

      Really like how the details in the basket lull us into a sense of normalcy before we realize the secret. I first assumed this was a woman, but just read it again, and realize not necessarily!

    • mariannehvest

      It almost seems like she is getting back at him for cracking his knuckles. It’s interesting to think that might be a reason for shop-lifting.

    • Susan Lee Anderson

      A little justice for the crazy high prices of groceries?! Fun piece. I can picture the whole scene.

  20. Puja

    How to Be the Beta Chi Slut

    First, rifle through your hardwood dresser in search of clothes that don’t just say “come hither,” but scream, “hit this now.” The search will be brief.

    In the spirit of the spring semester, choose a mini skirt with an embroidered daisy on the back pocket. The sorority girls who hang around the frat house like to show as much skin as you, but instead of denim and $5.99 wife beaters, their waif-like bodies are typically done up in Versace sundresses.

    For a moment, wonder over why they call it a wife beater—then slip the article of clothing on in four seconds flat (your clothing removal record is even shorter).

    Heels, glossy and razor-sharp, are a must. Losing the bra before going out gets you extra points, too.

    Keep your girlfriends (hopefully you haven’t been a bitch to all of them?) around for when you pre-game, pre-game, pre-game. Lounge on your lofted bed, shot glass in hand.

    “Do you think Nate will be at the party?” a girl from your marketing class will ask, a smile trembling to her berry lips.

    “Well, he is a Beta Chi brother,” you’ll respond, trying to remember if Nate is the blonde with the Tasmanian devil boxers or the tall guy with a thing for multi-colored condoms. You never were good at names, but if you’re going to be the Beta Chi slut, you should try to get them all straight. Wouldn’t want to embarrass yourself later on tonight, right?

    To keep up appearances, stick with this gaggle of girls for when you initially storm the frat house. But make sure to shake the tramps off soon after. They’ll only weigh you down, or steal all the good ones (and the bad ones, for that matter).

    Grab a beer and prowl.

    The makeshift bar will be cluttered with Busch Light boxes and Bacardi rum bottles—and manned by the Tasmanian blonde. He’ll offer you a Peppermint Patty. A girly drink, he’ll clarify as he shakes his blonde bangs from his face.

    Tilt your head back and open wide. He’ll pretend he needs to support your neck as he pours mint-flavored liquor and chocolate into your mouth. The pressure of his palm under your loose hair would be sweet if he wasn’t trying to find your bra strap at the same time.

    “It’s good, right?” he’ll ask encouragingly.

    You’ll agree; it’s cute that he thinks it’s your first time trying it. “Thanks, Nate.”


    “Thanks…Nick?” That’s a common enough name, right?

    “Sure thing, Caroline,” Nick will grin.

    Slip away from the bar soon after. Doing the dirty with Nick/Nate again wouldn’t be any sort of conquest, anyway. Scope out the dark room, pulsing with music and dance. Peer through the flashes of strobe lights a Beta Chi brother set up. They’ll blind you for a moment.

    The real Nate will be DJ’ing the party. Stop by his table for a little flirting, just to remind him what he’s missing out on.

    But again, think feline and stalk through the crowd of barely conscious, undulating bodies. Make your way to a preppy-looking brother wearing a sleek white shirt. Introduce yourself. Aren’t you in my Italian class? you’ll ask, though both of you know he’s not. I might be, he’ll respond playfully; I’m Nick, by the way.

    Try really hard not to roll your eyes.

    Some time during the conversation, you’ll realize Nick’s even more drunk than you anticipated. You’re on your third beer yourself and feeling kind of tipsy. Let him tug on your hand. “Let’s dance,” he’ll say.

    The music playing isn’t dance music; it’s Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” but Nick doesn’t mind. Personally, you think it’s a little trashy to try grinding to ballads, but you go with it. All the while, Nick belts out the lyrics, sloshing beer on the people around you.

    Courtship on the dance floor is your specialty. Left arm around his neck (the other hand holds a Solo cup); bodies foreign to one another, too close for comfort and too comfortable being so close; and the grinding. Smile up expectantly at him. As his hands and arms slide around your hips to the daisy on your skirt, you’ll think to yourself that he’s kind of gross and sweaty. When some subtle song like “Kiss Me Through the Phone” starts playing, the make-out session should commence. It’ll come naturally to you; the whole scenario will.

    But there’s calculation in how you do it now.

    By the end of the hour, you should be wasted, easy, and on a kiss-and-tell basis with about half of Beta Chi. You’ll save the other half for tomorrow night.

    The final guy of the evening isn’t named Nick or Nate. No, on this special night, the chosen one is Charlie. Charlie is the doe-eyed Beta Chi president. You’re now ready for an encounter that, like all the others, is brief, fun, and sharp as nails.

    Charlie has striped blue bed sheets that smell of women’s perfume. You might freeze at that, as Charlie drunkenly hovers over you, lids half closed.

    “What?” he’ll ask impatiently.

    “I…n-nothing.” You’ll continue.

    So what if you came into college thinking the first guy you slept with would hand you a sparkling promise ring? So what if, after the first relationship/one-night stand, you just kept going through the motions with one boy after another, sure that one of them would be “the one?”

    You’re not the self-searching type, but you know you like the power that comes from conquering the Nicks and Charlies of the world. The choices you’ve made, they’re better for you in a way. This way is best.

    It is.

    The rest of the evening is a blur––or so you can coyly tell people the morning after. All the while, make it blatantly clear that you had a wild(ly inappropriate) night.

    You can add that there’s talk of the boys hauling you off to Miami with them for Spring Break. You’ve never been outside the state, and you think of the vacation with a genuine smile.

    One last thing: the walk of shame from the frat house to your dorm.

    Hold your head up high, smile, and act like you’ve just been awarded the Purple Heart.

    Even better, you should think to yourself. You are now the Beta Chi Slut for Spring 2011.


    • plumjoppa

      Wow, this packs a punch! You used the second person and tense well to pull the reader in. It makes it very immediate,personal, and uncomfortable, but very powerful.

    • SC

      I really like how you matched a ‘how to’ instruction manual style with a subject you wouldn’t expect for that. works really well to get the emptiness of the whole experience across.

    • Susan Lee Anderson

      I think you capture the voice of this piece well in this one line: bodies foreign to one another, too close for comfort and too comfortable being so close;

    • wendy2020

      Such great choices with the details, felt like they added richness and reality and never bogged the writing down. Making out in a man’s bed that smells like woman’s perfume, just that says so much.

  21. Jeff Ellis

    You are thirty-five years old and you have just hung up the phone after a very long and stressful call from your soon-to-be-ex wife explaining to you that she is never coming back. Her clothes are still hanging in the closet. That is her toothbrush next to yours in the small porcelain dish on the bathroom counter. That is her daughter asleep in the tiny twin bed you bought just last week.

    As you sit in the chair beside your daughter’s bed and stroke her hair you can’t begin to think about what drove your wife away, because you realize, in your daughter’s quiet breaths, that there is no possible excuse. How are you supposed to raise this little girl alone? What do you tell her tomorrow? Should you wait? Is Margaret really never coming back? If she doesn’t come back, who will show this little wonder how to be a woman? Some proxy you meet at a company picnic a year or three or five from now? Will she never fully understand herself, because she only has you to tell her about the deep parts? The passed-down psychoses? The hereditary madness?

    You lean back in your chair and rest your hands on your knees with a sigh. Will she grow up to be an introvert? And how much of it will be your fault? You want to believe that it will all be Margaret’s fault. Margaret who left, but then that is weak thinking. You know there must be something you can do to mend this wound now, before it festers and lives on in her, but you are only so much carbon and free will. You don’t have any of the answers right now, and maybe some day you will, but when will that day come? And will she already be crippled by then? Will she forever be the girl-without-a-mom? How do you make this okay?

    You can’t. Nothing can make this okay. This is a pain that you will only ever be able to bandage. And everything is ruined.

    • plumjoppa

      I like the feel of this, like a camera panning over the scene in the first paragraph and then settling on the 2nd person pov. My favorite part is the “carbon and free will” line.

    • Jeff Ellis

      Thanks Plum, that was one of my favorite lines to write as well 🙂

    • mariannehvest

      I forgot I was even reading in second person with this one.

    • Jeff Ellis

      Hahaha, awesome Marianne, that’s good to hear 🙂

    • Puja

      I like the opening and how it shifts from belongings to a little girl. And I agree, the “carbon and free will” phrase is great. Great read!

    • Jeff Ellis

      Thanks Puja! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    • Susan Lee Anderson

      I like that the man is wiling to take responsibility here. That he will do all that he can to make things okay. I love the compassion. I like the almost admittance that he may have had a part in Margaret’s leaving. I like the use of the word, ‘proxy’…very appropro,

    • Jeff Ellis

      Thanks Susan! I’m glad that you liked it 🙂

    • Juliana Austen

      Wow – this is different for you Jeff and so very good! Indeed everyone has done really well with this exercise – who knew 2nd person could work so well!

    • Jeff Ellis

      Thanks Juliana! I think that writing in second person is a very helpful exercise for learning to write in the other perspectives. It has…something, haha. I suppose as a writer I should be able to find the words to describe what I am thinking, but I am drawing a blank at the moment.

    • wendy2020

      Very moving. Loved the description of the dad as “only so much carbon and free will.”

    • Jeff Ellis

      Thanks Wendy! I’m glad it moved you 🙂

    • oddznns

      HI Jeff
      Bet, you’ve forgotten about this piece but its WONDERFUL. It’s telling me things can be written in 2nd person and beautifully so. So there!

    • Swapna Sanand

      Very moving, I loved reading this Jeff!

  22. Abigail Rogers

    You stare at the couch, at the piano, at the door. Anything but the phone. Your stomach was fine five minutes ago, but now hard little hands have taken hold of it and are twisting in opposite directions.

    “It’s no problem,” you say. “I’ll just pick up the phone, dial the number, and talk. I like to talk. This won’t be a problem.” Deep inside your head you say something else. “I’m terrible on phones. Always have been. I’ll stutter, I’ll sound weak, I’ll get my words mixed up somehow and he’ll know I’m just a stupid kid.”

    You double over in pain as your stomach squeezes and you think you’re going to be sick. The little white telephone seems innocent enough, but when you pick it up your palms are slick with sweat. Desperate, you throw down the phone and run into your bedroom, switching on the light and hunting for something underneath piles of debris. Finally it’s in your hands–the magazine.

    Sweaty fingers flipping over the pages, you discover the photo you had in mind–a half-starved child from the streets of Accra. Right beside it is a collection of Haitian children, smiling and waving at you. “This is for them. I have to make the call for them.” You look a little longer at the photos, and only when you put them down do you feel that your stomach has untangled itself, and the hard little hands are no longer twisting.

    • Susan Lee Anderson

      I like that your piece is leading. I like the the picture of hands wringing a heart. I’m not sure about the end sentence. Does he or she make the call, or bail out? I’m thinking that it took courage to make the call. A certain kind of resolve, that settled the anxiety. Am I correct on this?Again, I like your practice.

    • Abigail Rogers

      Thank you, Susan! This is how I really felt on the morning I wrote this. The ending is a bit enigmatic, come to think of it. I meant that you do indeed make the call, emboldened by the reason for doing so.

  23. Susan Lee Anderson

    Late in coming on this writing prompt, but here goes:

    Are you an optimist or pessimist? Do you see the glass 1/2 empty or 1/2 full? What about if you sit somewhere in the middle? Would that be 1/4 or 3/4? A middlin’?. Anyway, you seem to dwell on the reality of the situation. Sometimes that calls for a silver lining, sometimes, an ominous gray cloud, heavy with problems. The silver lining is the ribbon of solution, stripping away the facade, to let the rain fall wear it may, flooding some areas, and watering the daffodils of spring. I tap my pencil on my notepad and peer over my eyeglasses, evaluating your stubbornness, your honesty.
    I think I have a new label for your condition. Maybe I will be like Freud, or Jung, or Maslow, I don’t know. I’ll have my conclusions printed up in some official journal. (Oh, the joy of being a published author! Wouldn’t that be wonderful?!)

    Because you seem to muddle in the middle of puddles, you get all muddy and messy. So, I will call you neither pessimist nor optimist. You are a bit of both. You know, like, “It’s complicated?!”
    You are a Messymist. Please don’t fret over this. It is good to be self-aware. God deals with messy, quite well. He cleans it up. His grace can handle your mess. So chin up and chin down. It is going to be Okay.

    • mariannehvest

      I think this is a hopeful message overall. The tone is kind of subdued relative to the others here and I think that’s appropriate to the theme.

    • Susan Lee Anderson

      Thank you for that, Marrianne. It was fun practice.

  24. Juliana Austen

    This was very hard! I have taken a few days to think about it!

    You stare down at the ruin of your body. Your eyes are open but do not see, a dark stain pools behind your head. You look away from the dress rucked up over your hips. The man who did this to you is down by the river, washing his hands. He returns and pulls down your skirt, fills your pockets with heavy river stones and begins to drag you toward the water.

    You look away and see her, small, wild-eyed, clutching your shawl. You want to envelope her in your arms, protect her, and shelter her from his evil. But you can’t, you know you can’t. There is a splash behind you but you do not feel the water rising over your head. She must hide you think. She is staring at you and you beckon her to follow you toward the mountain. You want her to hide in one of the caves, the fissures in the rock. She wraps your shawl around herself and crawls into a low dark space.

    He is calling her but she keeps silent and you watch him willing him away from her – your life’s treasure if only you had understood. The little one creeps further into the darkness where she will be safe. And you? Will the darkness ahead of you be safe?

    • mariannehvest

      Wow Juliana how sad and frightening. This is beautiful! Thanks

  25. wendy2020

    Remember after the scuba trip you came over to my place to help me balance my checkbook thinking it would be easy-peasy with your double math/physics major, not realizing I hadn’t recorded a single purchase for six months. You combed through my bank statements while I made popcorn and winked at my roommates while they left for the mall.

    And Holy Hell, you managed to balance my life.

    I tossed oversized throw pillows onto the floor and popped in a VHS ofCasablanca, the black and white version not the color-enhanced crap. You wrapped your arm around my shoulders, kissing me, and I barely felt the rug burn.

    But when Ilsa flew off into the fog, I said, “This is dumb. What are your plans, anyway?”

    Your eyebrow arced at my question, but you knew my rationale. The miles between ‘Virginia Me’ and ‘Georgia You’ made us becoming an US after this chance trip meeting highly unlikely.

    “My plans,” your blue sinking into my hazel, “are to come up and see you as much as possible.”

    The pillows became clouds and I began to reach for them.

    A car whizzed through the roadside puddles beyond my door.

    “Would you dance with me in the street?”

    You looked out the window then back at me. “Even in the rain.”

    But, we never did.

  26. William Teague

    After the news I walked for hours and hours, numb.

    Life’s a f****ed up thing. Just when you finally feel like your’re getting the hang of it, it pulls the rug from underneath your feet.

    Of the things and ways in this weird world, you begin to come to terms with who you are and whats important. . . .Then, Bam! you get the horrible news.
    You feel there’s no way to deal with this. There’s no one you can talk too. No one can really understand and you know you’ll just get some mediocre response from them. They love you and care for you and still, they offer nothing of any value or help.

    You are really all alone, its an emptiness, a dull emptiness. Why even put up a fight, its futile? But how could you not fight with all your might, all your will. You fight in your head to try and understand, try to justify, try to accept and find hope where there is none. Helpless and hopeless is the final defeat. As if the world stopped spinning and became mute.

    And but for the few who count on you, the few who love you; how could you let them down. How could you become dead while still alive; in their eyes? How could you just give up? Anger and rage seem the only cure to feel again; at least you’ll feel something, anything; temporarily anyway. You owe it to them to lie; your faithful family, your optimistic friends. You must lie. Maybe lying is a good thing. Maybe its the only thing you have. And you lie to them and to yourself; you must because the mirror of truth that reflects your skull & bones is too unbearable.

    The only way to rid yourself of the rage and fear is to dilute it, drown it, and wash it away – in whatever way you can, with whatever means is at your disposal. And when that fails to sustain you, you flee and jump ship, into a sea of anxiety.

    And you don’t possess the courage to acknowledge the truth, the hard cold truth. So you run and you keep running. You hide like a child who hears a noise at night and draws the covers over his eyes. Searching for some sense of security.

  27. Guest

    so basically homestuck

  28. barney

    It wasn’t that easy.

    Especially when you loved someone so dearly, and nothing can replace the memories you’ve had, the experiences you’ve been on, and what you have become because of that person. And you were having a really good time—heck, you didn’t want it to end. Not wanting it was an understatement, and even though this person had been a constant headache in your life, you still want this person back. Back, when everything wasn’t dull, and everything was bright and cheery—and everything was working the way it should be. Back, back in your arms and claim this person yours because it has always been like that in the first place. In the first place, when everything was happy. In the first place, when you two were together.

    It wasn’t that easy to forget, and forgetting means erasing these memories from your brain and pretending that it never happened. And you can do that, if you really try. If you really try not to visit social networking sites just to stalk that person; if you really try to ignore such group messages by him or her that were sent your way and not think about it too much. You can do that. But the problem is, you didn’t want to.

    And it wasn’t that easy to move on, because being with that person meant everything to you. That person can be considered as your first love, your first kiss, your first date, your first sitting-on-a-slow-moving-carousel-and-be-touchy-feely-with-each-other-kind-of-date, your first everything. You didn’t want to forget.

    But you have to.

    Because everything went downhill, and it’s just…over. You have to move on, and you need it for your life.

  29. Conor

    It’s been a long time since you’ve left me. How piteous that sentence seems when spoken
    to a young man of 21. I know you’re probably smirking and chortling at my
    inherent worry. Maybe that is to be expected.
    But as your mother, it is warranted. I shudder when I think of the long
    journey ahead of you, full of sun soaked beaches and monsoon filled
    jungles. Be smart my son.

    Those are your feet my fearsome boy, those are your little
    travelling machines. You remember that don’t you? Oh how you used to laugh at
    that as a child. Maybe you still do. Let us hope that they bring you to your
    hopes and dreams, the blazing sunsets that set every fiber of the sky ablaze,
    the soft trickle of an ocean breeze on your skin. I pray they steer you in the
    right direction.

    You once told me of your European adventure, of that awful
    fall from a cliff. Do take care to avoid any repeats for I will still
    hurt. The weather was awful that day
    wasn’t it? I shiver thinking of it. No homely warmth in your bones out there my
    sweet. There is a poetic justice to this some would say. A fearless boy leaving
    his insular mother in order to see the world and its marvels. It makes you
    stronger some would say.

    When you read this it is my dream that your façade slips.
    Even if just momentarily. This steely “I
    can do anything” character is not you my boy. I was not the mother you needed,
    nor the parent a child deserves. But my presence was always there, and yours is
    no longer. But could you reach into the recesses of your past and find a way to
    forgive? I hope so, it is never too late.

    That rainy August morning that you left was earth
    shattering. Clutching at the moth bitten curtains screaming your name was my
    moment of truth. Failing you was unforgivable, but necessary in order to redeem
    myself. Telling the neighbors that your sudden spur of the moment decision to travel the world was academically
    related is a lie like no other. You had to learn to be loved, as I had not
    taught you.

    Think of that cliff you slipped from as a metaphor. It was
    cold and wet when you fell into the raging and angry sea. But when everything
    was against you you climbed back up and triumphed. You ventured into the water
    again. You have forgiven it, knowing that it’s anger was only momentary and
    that it would soon beckon you to it’s warm and calming embrace. I am the ocean
    my sweet, find me once more.

    Your heart beats reading this, a childhood pain splitting
    through once more. You will ask yourself
    why I tried to hurt you so many times. Was it intentional, did I set out to be
    a bad mother? You know the answer.

    I lie here now, not at peace as of yet. You travel the
    four corners of the earth, knowing that it will lead you back to me. It will not lead you to the little terraced
    house we called home. But a short journey from there. The walk will test those
    little feet of yours, through those
    murky forests you will tread until you find me.

    I know you are shocked now, re-reading this letter, this
    goodbye. Those pesky solicitors will not have been able to reach you. As my
    granite encored name confronts you, you will know that I loved and do love you,
    even in death.

  30. ethan strine

    That night when you fell off the cliff, I was sure that you were dead. But now as you’re walking up to me, I can see that you lived the fall into freezing water. Then as you’re getting closer I can see the scars that the sharp rocks left on your face. I can still see in my mind as I’m pushing you off, I see in your eyes that look of pure, absolute hatred all of which I’m sure was directed towards me. Your tough, calloused hands scrabbling for something to grab on to, just to save yourself, save myself from the agony of watching you die and reliving it everytime I fall asleep.

  31. Lisa Randall

    I’m working on a short story right now where I’m attempting the first-person narration with bits of the “letter from narrator to you” approach woven in. Like you said, it’s not an actual letter, but more the narrator’s thoughts directed toward another character who is present in the scene. I really like how it’s coming together, but have been feeling like I’m breaking some rule… I feel like I’ve just been given permission. Thanks!

  32. hatsu

    this is incredibly common in fanfiction, more specifically in fanfiction from the Homestuck fandom. It’s fun, it’s engaging, but it doesn’t engage YOU as a reader being literally you, but it engages YOU as being the character that this person chose. For example, a character from the comic, Gamzee Makara: “Your name is Gamzee Makara and you are certain this is a rather stupid decision. You are leaning against the cold brick wall of an old building, trying to focus on anything else but your thumping heart. You try to focus of the heavy rain that falls on your hair and runs down your face, try to focus on the splashes of water that are soaking your pants and shoes as the cars rush by, try to focus on cold air that is chilling your bones to the point that you are trying not to shiver…”

    • jacobe

      probably because homestuck is written itself in second person . . . it’d just be weird to read fanfiction in first or third

  33. Brinna

    Alone by the lake, you toss rocks from a pyramid of golf-balled sized stones, crumbling its temporary structure. They splash in, splashing your flip-flopped feet that splashed along carelessly in the water that morning. You grasp at the sand, pulling some into your palm, and then adding the scoops to the pot of water. Your shoulders slouch more and more after each throw, but you continue until it feels as if you would need a crane
    to reach anymore. Looking out at the small waves, you can’t even tell how much anger and regret you hurled into the reflecting lake; it just seems to cope with the new sand and rocks. It makes you want to fling the whole beach in, just in spite.

    What should you do, now that it’s all out? You don’t want to go back, but you don’t want to stay. Here, there are memories upon memories. Back there, though, there are things. Many things. Many things with memories tied to them, or words tied to them.

    Go back. The white shirts with collars. The periodic table posters. The homemade pencil holders, filled to excess. The souvenir bottle. The empty picture frames. The yellow sticky note pad. The coil scribblers, filled to excess.

    Stay here. Long walks at midnight. Desperate naps just after midnight. Words spoken to the water. Sandy papers dusted off. Forgotten books on benches. Useless information chanted, chanted, chanted.

    You rise up and brush the sand off your shorts. If you stay looking at the water, you can almost forget the years of memories. All you can see is the calming flash of light from the buoys far out from the shore. Not even the road carved into the side of the mountain is illuminated. But if you turn, it’s all there. The streetlights, the late night convenience store, the hotel, the campground, and the beach’s parking lot. Bright, like your future should have been. Bright, like you were told it should have been. Bright, like they were still expecting it to be. But you were done. Time to settle for the small town life in a small town, with small town friends and a small town job. You were no longer an escape hatch to the big cities and the big countries. Close your mind, shield your eyes, and pay no attention to the outside.

  34. Karley

    At this point, your only goal for the day is to make it through the day.

    An entire 24 hours on that single Honeybun you devoured like most white girls wish they could scarf down a desert-like cake for breakfast, but go to Starbucks instead. That was THE last honeybun…that your mom gave you…on the last trip you made home when you were a starving, broke college kid. Yep, you still are one of those.

    You’re also still reminiscently rubbing your belly with that way-too-satisfied grin on your face, so let’s go ahead and stop that immediately.
    This is the moment when one of two things will ensue: on a good day, where you possess that thing people are constantly advising you to get…what’s it called?…oh yeah, self control! So, in the (highly unlikely) event it’s one of ‘those’ days, you’ll refuse to allow yourself the torturous pleasure of daydreaming about the myriad of snacks you would buy if your wallet weren’t even emptier than your stomach. You won’t even go there, you’d let it alone, and maybe even eat a vegetable.
    Stop laughing. It could happen, one day the taste of broccoli could change…
    The reality of the situation is your textbooks are screaming to be opened and you avoid looking at them directly, as if averting your eyes will somehow undo the noticing of them in the first place. Similarly to the way you pretended that cute dad didn’t see you checking out his ass at Walmart.
    That’s just another tally on the Things-You-Ought-To-Be-Doing-But-Aren’t board…he wasn’t even wearing a ring!
    Soon you’ll quit telling yourself you can’t write because ___ *insert excuse here*____, and you’ll be able to afford more Honeybuns. (Well, either that, or you’ll be HoneyBunz down at the strip club that’s sandwiched in-between a K-Mart and the Family Dollar in a strip mall. Classy…)
    I think that’s motivation enough.

  35. Jacobe

    The slight breeze of yet another chilly summer’s night pulls you’re hair from your face. You’re standing under a lone street lamp, leaning against your old black Saturn. Your gaze is trained on a girl across the street.
    She stumbles out of the small group of people and cackles. Her blonde hair messy, clothing askew, you can only imagine what she must have been up to. You’re thought’s are confirmed when another individual emerges from the club’s entrance and laces his arm around her waist, burying his face into her neck.
    “Kaya!” You call to her, digging your hands into the pockets of you’re favorite jacket.
    Her head snaps up and she sees you’re form in the short distance. Even from where you are you can tell her face is troubled. You watch as she pushes from the guys grip and slowly makes her way over towards you. She grips the front of your coat, pulling you closer.
    “Jackson.” She breaths heavily, alcohol burning your nose. You push her off and walk around the front of the Saturn.
    “Get in. I’m taking you home.” You answer in a commanding, yet indifferent tone. She always does this. Leaving you to clean up her mistakes.
    “Please don’t tell mom and dad.” She whines, slipping ungracefully into the passenger side’s seat.
    You glance at her in the small mirror before looking into your own blue eyes. You’re dark chestnut brown hair is windswept and the bags under your eyes are dark and purple. When did this become you’re life? When did you stop taking care of yourself?
    You avert your eyes to the car’s clock radio. 4:17 am.
    “I won’t.” You sigh, pulling the seat belt across your body and starting up the vehicle. It’s quiet in the car, only the low rumble of the engine and the soft breathing of you’re younger sister. It was hard to believe she was only 16. You look at her peaceful sleeping form and frown. Why couldn’t you control her?
    A loud noise caused you to jump in your seat, head whipping around to the driver side mirror, just in time to see the blinding white light. You’re heart beats fast as you slam on the breaks, to slow to stop the impact.

  36. d

    good good

  37. Lazarus

    I love this form. My words flow so smoothly. For years I tried third and first person, neither of them felt right. They just came off a corny or it just didn’t sound good. Why didn’t anyone tell me about this before? I have multiple blank stories. I am going to use this on them too. Thank you for the help.

  38. Jaime

    You are wake in a room. What should
    be an ordinary experience is strange. As you get out of bed, you notice this
    isn’t your bedroom. Nor is it a room from your house. Alarmed, you take in the
    room as fast as possible. Your clear, pain free head indicates this isn’t due
    to alcohol. Your next thought is that this is a dream. You have had odder
    dreams before. However, this seems too detailed to be a dream. You get up from
    the bed. The room is small and relatively bare. You cross to the door. You turn
    it. It’s locked. You stare at the door for a minute, thinking. Then you try the
    other door. It’s locked as well. You realize your breathing is ragged, and you
    cross back to the bed to calm down.

    You decide to survey the room more
    closely. The walls are a plain grey. You crouch down and look under the bed.
    There is no dust. There is only a small stuffed rabbit. You grab it and set it
    down on the bed. The rabbit has a collar that reads O. Rabbit. You head over to the other furniture, a drawer.
    It has three cabinets. One is empty. The other 2 contain keys. One is an ornate
    silver key that shines in the dim light. The other key is plain copper. The
    silver key doesn’t open either of the doors. The copper key fails to open the
    first door. Your hand shakes as you put the key in the second door. It works.

    The door is clearly not an exit. Now
    you are in a room slightly smaller than the one you woke up in. The walls are a
    bright white instead of dull grey. There is a skylight above, sending the
    sunlight down. This cheers you up and brings optimism to the forefront. The
    only decoration is a small chest pushed up in a corner. You ready the other
    key. The small key is an obvious fit for the little chest. Surprisingly, the
    chest isn’t locked. Inside the chest, is, nothing. You stare at the chest
    blankly. What does this mean? You are stuck. There is no way out.

    You head despondently back into the
    main room. You close the door a little harder than necessary. The stuffed
    rabbit is still crouched on the bed. You pick it up and hug it. You suppose you
    shall never find out why you are here. “No…” And then you sleep.

  39. Shaylynn Mendes

    It’s just a little something I attempted to write for my creative writing class. It’s my first time really writing in second person, and actually completely a story, so I’m sorry if it doesn’t appeal to you.

    You follow the echo, tiptoeing through the forest, navigating through the narrow path between the billowing trees. You push through the branches and leaves that fan around you. Push through them until you can finally see the clearing to the lake. you slowly made your way down the sandy path, inching closer to the glimmering waters of the lake. you could almost feel his presence. As you gets closer to his heartbeat, the tug on you gets stronger, dragging you down, weighing down on you every step. Whatever rope holding you back, didn’t want you to meet him either. But you kept walking, walking until your legs were moving like rusted gears. Just as you reached the clearing, and heard him call your name one more time, a thought flashed through your head. The sound of laughter. “We’ll always love you.” The rope won you over, tugging you back until you tumbled through the trees. Your hands shot out, clawing desperately at the dirt scattered about you. “We’ll come back for you we promise.” The warmth reminiscent of a kiss blossomed upon your cheek. You clung more tightly to the ground, yearning to reach him. You needed to find him. You heard him calling your name, and your heart thundered in your chest. You struggled against the rope, aspiring to be free. The poignant reminder of the privation you would face if the rope took away all you conquered to get here, encouraged you to pull away harder. You dug your fingers into the ground and pulled yourself forward. You must reach him. You didn’t want to look back anymore. He was all you desired.

    You lifted herself onto a tree branch, far away from the rope, and looked out. You peered through the bits of space that the leaves forgot to cover up, and wondered why he didn’t come to you instead. You remembered the days, where all you did was cry over how unfair life was. He had been there to comfort you. You use to think of his voice in your head on days when you really didn’t want to wake up. You thought of him on the nights where you lay awake thinking of the future that you ruined for herself. He was there when those people took away your dignity. The simple act of him saying your name had tore you away from the dark moments. When your parents found out that you wanted to go see him, they vowed to keep you away. They punished you and made sure to never leave your side. You felt so trapped and engulfed in a life you didn’t want. When you snapped out of your thoughts, you felt the light tug of the rope on you and you squeezed her eyes shut. “I don’t wanna go back. He’s my only escape. He’ll make me feel happy.” You assured herself. The rope withdrew and you lowered yourself off the branch and dropped to the crisp grass and moist dirt below you. You took a breath and proceeded towards the lake.

    With each step you took, flashes of memory sprang back and forth in your mind. It’s either him, or the life you knew before. The distance between you and the lake seemed to stretch on for miles. Glancing up at the luminous ribbons of silver etched across the sky, you felt less frightened. The moonlight streamed down, directing a path towards him. The harmonious tweets of birds filled the air every once in awhile. All these little things made you feel like you had chosen the right thing to do. You felt peace in your mind for once in a million years. It was like the war going on in your head had finally ended. Just as you thought that, you felt something wrap around you. You tumbled to the ground. “Please don’t say those things. We care about you. It’s the reason we’re here for you.” You yelled out in agony as his voice seemed to be left behind. There was a barely audible whisper of your name being called. You heard him one more time before you got yanked out of the forest. As you hastily tried to unbind yourself from the rope, it wounded around you more tightly and your breath caught in your throat. “Stop it. Don’t leave us for him.” You panicked and urged yourself to break free. You kicked and screamed, willing the rope to let you go.

    After hours of struggle, you finally broke free. You wandered into the darkness and shelter of the trees once again. Finally being free, the sound of his voice calling for you was loud and clear. Your heart was beating erratically. You felt so close to finally getting everything that you wanted. It was in that moment, you realized that turning away from everything you once knew was completely worth it. You tore through the aged trees, crinkled bushes, jagged rocks, and every other obstacle in your path. From where you were, you could hear the soft rippling of the water. He was there at the lake waiting for you. You have never felt such a surge of vitality. As you reached the opening of the trees, your eyes lingered on the lake, a black void, with the light of the moon beaming off of it. Your heart continued to thrash in your chest. The smile on your face widened. Tears began to blotch your cheeks. You were so close to him after all this time. You flew the rest of the way down to the lake. A rush of feeling filled your chest. Your lungs squeezed with something you have never felt before. Suddenly, the beating of your heart slowed down to a stop. A flash of colors blinded you. When you mustered up the courage to open your eyes, you saw him. You knew you had finally succeeded. You made your way towards him. You stared into the dark abyss beyond him. He stood there with open arms. A glint of something malicious flickered over his eyes. He gave you a welcoming smile. The devil was he…

  40. Megan

    This was a challenge, but once I got into the groove, I felt a little more comfortable. I don’t know if I could write something much longer than this entirely in second person though.

    You pull the door shut behind you, locking it even though
    you’ll only be gone a half hour. You
    shove your already cold hands into your gloves as you bounce down the stairs,
    preparing for the first run of winter.

    The glass door to your apartment is foggy and radiating cold
    into the lobby. You adjust your hat to
    make sure your ears are covered. Then,
    you pull the scarf around your neck up to cover your mouth and nose.

    It’s been two months since you’ve been running. The cold set in and so did you, but you
    promised yourself you wouldn’t quit. The
    cold won’t be that bad. Your layers will
    be enough to keep the cold out. You know
    these are lies, but they motivate you anyways.

    You push the door open.
    The cold burns through your gloves.
    A burst of wind hits the only visible skin around your eyes, but you
    continue outside and march into the parking lot. The dim light from the porch illuminates the
    falling snow, which muffles all the sound.
    You look up, and watch the snow appear out of the black sky and fall
    lazily to the already covered ground. You
    are suddenly warm and content here.
    Outside isn’t so bad.

    The wind picks up and hits you sideways. The calm feeling from before is gone. “Screw this!” you say out loud and accomplish
    the only running you’ll do tonight, back inside.

  41. Mary

    Little by little the train slowed down. You fly through the sky, oblivious to the debris in the air around you. You have one mission. Destroy the enemy. In an air base far away a clock ticked and an alarm sounded. A sound explodes in your ears, and you grab your head, trying to make it stop. A giant force throws you toward the ground. You are falling, falling…

    Beep, beep, beep! You roll over in bed and turn the alarm off. You lay in bed, then, shoot! You remember that you had a job interview today in the city. At 8:00. It’s 7:15 and rush hour. You get up in a hurry and throw some clothes on, brush your hair, and look the best you can for running late. On the way, you go through the busy drive-through at Breakfast Stop for some coffee, but the line is too long. You’ll have to skip the coffee. The highway drive is monotonous, and you have some time to think about your dream.

    Where were you? You don’t remember the setting. It was a strange dream. You do know that there was a train. And a time bomb. Was that what it was? It definitely exploded, and along with the ticking, it could have very well been a time bomb. Why was there debris in the air? And why were you trying to destroy the enemy? Who was the enemy? Was the time bomb a sonic bomb? That would explain the force that threw
    you to the ground. Why was the bomb in an air base? And how on earth did it
    reach you so far away?

    After the interview you decide that you need answers. As soon as you get home, you google the name Ellen Stone.

    Ellen Jean Stone was born on December 7, 1941, and died on November 6, 2005. Stone was an acclaimed astrophysicist and won three Nobel Prizes for her work. She was also rumored to be involved in fortune-telling and witchcraft, although it has never been proven. Her husband, Dr. Dan C. Stone, is CEO for Aluminum Professionals, LLC.

    You open a new tab in your browser, and search Dan Stone. An article about Stone appears, but the link underneath catches your eye.

    Dr. Dan C. Stone – Aluminum Professionals, LLC. – 563.735.7298 dcsejs10741@mail.com – 2849 Weyton Square Indianapolis, Indiana, 02574.

    Just what you need. Maybe Stone will know something about his wife’s work.

    The next morning you head for Aluminum Professionals, LLC., seeking out Dr. Dan C. Stone. You print out the address, and drive to Indianapolis.

    You walk into the lobby. It was a spotless, sleek facility, and the heels of your shoes tap in the white tile floor. You approach the lady at the counter. You ask for Dr. Stone.

    “Do you have an appointment?” she asks.

    “No,” you say.

    “Then I’m sorry, you’ll have to come back another time.”

    “Please, ma’am, it’s urgent.”

    “What is your business with Mr. Stone?”

    “I’m afraid it’s confidential,” you say. Maybe she’ll stop asking questions.

    The woman picks up the phone.

    “Mr. Stone, someone’s here to see you. They claim it’s confidential.” She pauses, then nods at you. She writes down the office number on a slip of paper, then points toward the elevator. You head upstairs.

    On the elevator you notice that there is no 13th floor. Maybe that has something to do with his wife’s superstitions, you think.

  42. Chris

    You woke up in the complete darkness. You can’t even hear your heart beating, even though you remember vaguely falling over and pain racing through your body. Far overhead, you hear a light scratching noise. You try to yell and pound on—it feels like fresh wood, strange. You touch your body and feel fresh clothes, but you can’t smell anything. You start pounding on the wood, but your hands can’t move too far, maybe a few inches. You grunt and keep pounding until you hear the wood start to crack. You then start pulling at the wood, causing your mouth to fill with dirt and your body to become covered in cool dirt. You continue clawing through the dirt. Strange, you haven’t felt the need to breathe. But you feel a bit, well, thirsty. You continue clawing upwards, until you feel a single hand poke out of the dirt into the open air. You pull yourself out, and see a pair of people walking off into the distance. Overhead, you see a full moon with dark clouds floating across it. You can feel the hunger race through you, demanding to be filled. Your eyes lock onto the people and you race towards them. They seem to be nearly standing still as you slash at them with your bony hands. They drop and you clomp your mouth onto their bodies and slurp up their warm blood. Instants later, you feel the hunger pain subside, but look down and see two people you once knew, now ripped into pieces scattered around you. You try to weep, but no tears come. Then, you hear a voice “The first is always the most intense. You are mine. Look at me.” Your entire body goes rigid, except your neck slowly cranes to see your new master. She is dressed in a slinky dress, has the palest skin you’ve ever seen, and a cool predatory look in her pure white eyes. “Let’s go.”

  43. Bill Holmes

    I tried this exercise for the first time today writing a short story. It felt weird at first but I became more comfortable writing in second person. I may try this out more often.

  44. Minerva Rose

    My little sunflower. I watch, as you stretch your tiny limbs, reaching for me. I am your sun. I, who have always been cold as death, am now the warmth that gives you life. Your face, just a moment ago a tight, angry red ball is now smooth, white and pure like mother’s milk. I touch you in wonder. It is a softness like I have never felt before, a softness that soothes my callused fingertip as I draw it gently across your rosy, baby cheek.

    You stare up at me, the wonder in your squinty eyes mirroring my own. They are still adjusting to the world around…but even at this early stage, I know you know me. Clear green eyes so unlike mine, sparkling like the ripples of a stream in the sunshine. I lose myself in you.

    I watch, seeing my pain in your eyes as your face turns red once more and then blue, and your eyes lose their sparkle as they dull and glaze over. You no longer know me.

    And yet you reach out blindly, fingers stretched towards me, even as I strangle you to your death.

    This piece was inspired by a recent tragic incident of a young mother killing her new born baby, while still in the hospital. She was diagnosed with some form of mental instability. Nothing is known beyond that. I tried to keep this sort of “motivelessness” and detachment within the story, thinking it would make for a more powerful piece. Hope I succeeded!

  45. Eclectic-Octopus

    Is the second person really that rare? Maybe it’s different if you’re writing nonfiction. Most (if not all) of my writing is in the second person. I like to talk directly to my readers, asking questions and that sort of stuff. Maybe, I should try first and third instead.

    Instead of fighting, you obeyed. Somehow even that was defiant. Your chin was raised high as you told me that you’d rather I didn’t kill you. Yoh smirked as you asked who I’d hire to do the job or if I’d just think it and make it happen.
    We were talking about how I knew what you were doing from across the world because I could feel you. You thought that was a load, but didn’t fight even as I insulted you. You just smiled, obeyed and twinkled your eye.

  46. Sheala Henke

    Great article and I am polishing up a novel now from the intimate 2nd person narrative and it was in reading pieces like this that I solidified my decision. I was a bit concerned that my character would be speaking to me through this lens at first, but from word one t felt right and has throughout the entire manuscript. Even the sceptics in my writing group who were advising me to reconsider when the idea first started spilling out on the page have taken a new viewpoint saying it definitely works in this particular story!

  47. Sarojini Pattayat

    Beautiful technique. I love it.
    You never wanted to cross the wild path. Still, in silence something happening in your mind. You wanted to cross and hug him to keep him entirely in your life.

  48. Violet Azure

    “Caroline, today is a very important day,” Mother gives you a pained smile and bends down to your level. Her honey brown hair swings in front of your face before you see her hazelnut eyes close to yours. She leans in and gives you a kiss on the forehead. As she pulls away you catch the smell of her ocean shampoo. You turn you head to the side while questions run through you head as tears stream down Mom’s face. She pulls up her purse and wipes away her tears. “Let’s go visit Daddy’s place.” Before you ask any questions she picks you up and heads to the front door.

    “Where are we going Mommy?” You ask, fear creeping into your voice. Moms never cries like this, why is she sad? You tighten your arms around her neck as she turns off the hallway lights and opens the front door. She gives you a quick smile as she closes the door and carries you to the car. She slowly straps you into the car and gets into her seat. You decide to ask again, “Mommy, where are we going? Why are you crying?” You struggle under the carseat buckles, but you are no use against them.

    Your mother wipes away another tear and hides a sob as she turns around to face you, “We are just going to hi to Daddy,” She smiles and wipes away other tears. The engine of the car roars to life. As she backs the car out of the parking space you open your mouth to speak but she cuts you off, “Don’t you remember last year? In the nice green park,” She turns the car around and drives out of the apartment buildings parking lot. You try to remember such an instance from the previous year, but your mind is blank. Who is Daddy?

    “Here we are,” Mommy says as we pull up to a big grassy field. In the background you can hear birds chirping. Still you have no memory of such a place. She shrugges as she unstrapes you from your confindment. “I don’t expect you to remember, you were pretty young last year.” She smiles, but it quickly fades as she turned towards the field.

    “Why are we here?” You ask, concern still lining you voice as wind almost drowns out your question. Your mom smiles at you and starts to cry again. She collapes down on the grass and you jump out to comfort her. You can’t figure out why she is crying so much. Does she have allergies again? “Mommy, who is Daddy?” you ask. It seems like Daddy is the reason you are here, where is he?

    “Daddy is the most wonderful person,” Mommy says and looks up at you with a smile. “He had to go away for a long time on a journey, but he will return, whether it be in my lifetime or not,” your mom’s gaze drifted off into the trees and she smiles. You can’t understand why she is sad then happy, but it made you happy that she was.

    You ask you last question again, you feel the need to have it answered, “Who is Daddy?” You look at your mom with anticipation and wait as she turns your head towards you.

    “He was Olyuss, the magician of my life,” She smiles and gives you a hug.

  49. Mariana

    its crazy how everything happens.Just as when you were little and everything was blurry. You remember your mom walking you to school in a hurry. When you started growing and understanding that alot of things you were doing were bad. Maybe something affected you wen you realized the world is cold and sad. Its crazy how also the bad things that happened in your life time can change you in so many ways. But only you got to realize it miles away. The seasons start changing friends became strangers. Sometimes you get stuck mentally seems like your in danger.No were to run to.No one to talk to. In the room stuck between four walls, theres life out there but you must have forgot. You feel alone and misunderstood. That no one knows the struggle you go through. But only if you really knew that my Lord the savior heard your crying, he’s got you. Still in your disbelief that there wasn’t anyone to save you. You let yourself go, not trusting your stuggle. Drank, smoked went home empty. From were you last left off sitting in the dark you always thought where is the ending? You thought this was it. That there was no way out of escaping but there is… Trust in God, get on your knees and pray. I guarantee you tomorrow be a better day. I tell you no lies because there was a moment in life I went through something like this “Once Upon A Time”

  50. TutorJuls Lee

    That example is still first person point of view. It has “I” in it, so the “I” is still the one behind the story, not the other person, the “you”.

  51. ajc

    your not gonna lie anymore more.you didnt even know your own language. the whole time right in in your face. its no point in blaming anymore. fuck. its sorta funny when you find the man your yelling at is yourself. didnt say i didnt tell you but i know you suck at writing. wanna bump? go

  52. Amani Wilkins

    You woke up at 8:30 a.m. and just remembered your brother left you to travel home all alone. This was the first time traveling out of state by yourself, with no help. You can still hear the warnings of your grandparents from the night before, “Don’t travel at night and don’t pick up any strangers!” You tell yourself, “There’s nothing to be afraid of. You’ve got this.” But you never made it back home.

  53. Eddy Nashton

    I write exclusively in second person. I have on occasion switched to 1st person and swapped perspectives between character and very much enjoy this style. The second person seems to be the most effective when you want to focus more on the story vs the actual characters. Like if you want to be vague and not reveal a lot second is great. First is great if you want to do perspective and focus on emotions and motivation.I dont think I really write in third that often.

  54. Brendain Maolduin

    This is a passage I lifted from a short story i wrote, when i tried to use second person as the lead figure suffers a panic attack in the middle of the action,
    Now you’re drifting…..

    Now this is starting to get to you, you heart’s pounding, your mind’s racing,
    The cabin’s spinning all around you,
    You’re flushed, choking and trembling,
    What if you have a heart attack!
    What if you never leave here?
    Now you’re sweating, it’s sliding down your face, dripping off you.
    You want help, don’t you?
    What if you breakdown and scream?
    They’ll have gotten to you,
    They’ll twist you, torment you, break you, and drive you mad.
    You can’t get your beads, they’re in the corner,
    You can’t bend, you can’t reach, you can’t move, can you?
    You’re frozen with fear,
    But you’re all alone,
    What if you die here?
    God help you.

  55. L.L Thomas

    You look in the mirror at your self perceived, distorted appearance. You look at your popped out shoulder blades, your curved in sides. You run your hand over your arm, looking down at the scars you’ve inflicted on yourself. Each one having a definite shape. Each one having a different story.

    Your mother pulls into the all to familiar circular parking lot of your family church. Pulling up to the curb she puts the car in park and turns to you.

    “Are you ready.” She smiles at you hopeful.

    “Ready as I’ll ever be.” Is your response. You don’t waste anytime exiting the car, quick to shut the door. You knows she’s staring at you as you make your to the glass double doors.

    Just like many days before, you find your yourself looking up to the sky. Why are you doing this? You watch the clouds moving across the vast expanse of ocean blue background. You take a moment, thinking if going to this is worth your time. Another boring therapy session plays across your mind.

    A honk fills your ear drums, breaking your daze. You glance over your shoulder, your mother waves for you to move through the passenger side window. You nod your head and wait for her to leave. The sound of an engine slowly fades away before you force yourself into the building.

    The tiny, four corner room smells of hopelessness and stale coffee. To you that’s exactly what this is; hopeless. In a moments thought you stretch your sleeve over your hand, gripping it tight in your fist, covering the evidence from the night before. Dr. Jenkins collects your files, then looks up at you.

    “Rose, how are you?” He addresses you with the same joyful tone as always.

    You shrug your shoulders.

    “I see.” He looks down, making a note on your sheet. “And have you been taking your medicine. ”

    You suppress a laugh. “You know, it’s not really my thing.” He stares at you under his black trimmed, oval glasses.

    “Rose.” He rubs his forehead.

    “Dr. Jenkins.” You respond, peeking at the bowl of skittles in your peripheral vision.

    “You need to take it.” This is not far from anything you’ve heard before.

    You grab a handful of skittles, plopping one into your mouth. “It doesn’t do anything.” You know the words he’s about to speak before he even opens his mouth.

    “You haven’t been taking them long enough.” There it is.

    “A year, Dr. Jenkins.” You sit up, throwing your hands in the air. “A year I’ve been taking this medication. Now I don’t know about you, but that seems pretty damn ‘long enough.’”

    He clasps his hands together. You don’t want to be here anymore. “Just a little longer and if it doesn’t work, then we’ll stop. Okay?”

    You know you’re about to lie. “Okay.”

    Why can’t you just tell him the truth?

  56. Ilkar Seregon

    Yea this point of view i never do. Mostly seen in selfhelp nonfiction types, recently I’m concerned: in dialogues what if not sure which party is the ‘you’ referring to? Especially in a story with many people. (I’m an author i don’t want to lose this skill)

  57. Mitchell Garland

    Here’s an extract from a dystopian short story that I am writing for year 12 🙂

    You try to read the letter again, with shaking hands and foggy glasses. Your lips can’t find the motion to speak, and the words can’t find the way out of your mouth.
       “We regret to inform you that you are the person that has been randomly chosen to make the sacrifice for the preservation,” you murmur, through trembling lips. You remain frozen on the couch, with your wife laying on top of you, sobbing. The tears from your whole family is sufficient enough to fill a swimming pool. As you embrace your dear children, you notice a black government car outside, with tinted windows. You know that it’s time to go. You know you have to go. As you step outside, Emily grabs hold of your leg and doesn’t let go, whilst progressively crying harder and louder. You pull her off. It hurts so much inside, but you know that you have to do it. You give them each one last hug, and try to pull a funny face at the kids to try and stop them from crying. It doesn’t work. As the car pulls away, you see your wife, running back inside the house, with her head in her hands.

    In the car, you just sit there. You don’t know what to think. You don’t know what to do. You’re frozen, and nothing seems to enter or leave your mind.

    The silence endures.

  58. Andrew Shaw

    what if you have a story involving more than one character? You can’t simply make it personal in more than one body, because it’d be ridiculously hard to notify the reader which character they’re now embodying, it’s unrealistic therefore and it’s no longer personal if you’re not even that one person who you can identify with. This is why, unless you’re writing a story only in one person’s point of view (which is just as limiting as first person, if not more so, so hardly useful) that 2nd person is incredibly limiting. It should only be used for speeches, ads etc. when you’re applying your message to everyone and CAN apply that to everyone and anyone

    3rd person arguably reigns supreme again therefore, because you can embody the reader in as many characters as possible, and if written well you can show the different perspective of each character’s stimuli and how their nurture and nature affects their experience of the stimuli, such as with life: you may understand why someone did x, but you may never know what experiences brought them there or made them act that way in the first place, neither can you realistically in 2nd person, unless if the reader’s character is a ghost who can possess people… 3rd person you can do so realistically, because the reader is like a god, you’re more or less omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient, limited only to the scope of the story.
    It’s less personal you say? Not if you write the story properly, if the story isn’t personal and the reader’s don’t find the characters relatable in any style of story, irrelevant of what type of person you’re referring to, then you’ve failed perhaps the most basic part of creative writing and your story would be awful

    1st person uses ‘I’ anyway, so not much less personal or different than ‘you’ and just as limiting

  59. Andrew Shaw

    wait, I understand why it’s useful to learn how to write as compacting and therefore nuanced as possible, but why does it have to be 100 words on the dot? That doesn’t really prove anything and is overly stifling for anyone. Good story nonetheless

  60. Richard Whereat

    Nah, second person holds the person at arms length. It’s not good enough if you want the persons emotional connection.

  61. Mxmisnomer

    Hi this is the opening paragraph of story i’m working on called, “You and me” its a soulmate story can i have your opinion.
    You’ve never been particularly interested in the concept of soulmates. It had always befuddled you why every girl in your class from seemed to be obsessed with who their soulmate would be and what they would look like. It’s not that you never thought about soulmates, the timer on your wrist made sure of that, but you tended to spend your time focusing on more practical things like your classes and the after school theater program you’ve been a part of since middle school. As months turn into years and you graduate high school you continue to ignore the clock on your wrist ticking down to the day you will meet the person who will be your forever. You move for college attending the same college as your best friend, a university in Boston with a great theater program, and move in together. You easily fall into a rhythm of classes, work and studying not thinking about the seconds ticking down on your wrist as the days flow into one another. Your first few semesters are more boring then you wish as you try to knock out the required classes for your freshman year before winter break. You expect to spend winter break alone in the apartment you ‘Share’ with your best friend. Ever since she meet her soulmate she has been scarce and you don’t doubt the same will be true for winter break. You don’t mind being alone, you quite enjoy the quiet. It allows you to get work done and to collect your thoughts. You were perfectly content to spend winter break alone when you receive a call from you mother offering to buy you two way ticket to see her for the holidays. You haven’t seen your mother in over a year and even if that wasn’t the case who are you to refuse a free ticket to see her. You aren’t one to look a gift horse in the mouth so you go to see her. What you don’t see is the timer on your wrist, now hidden behind a black leather cuff, go from 2190:D 23:H 14:M 23:S to 10:D 23:H 14:M 23:S the moment you step off the plane.

  62. Larry Bone

    Your article that suggests writing in the second person is especially helpful. Particularly the examples you included. I thought about an earlier unrelated writing prompt and then a newspaper incident discussed in an interview though highly unlikely, that actually happened. It got me started on the exercise and now I feel there’s a short story in it. I think one of your best points is don’t let writing in 2nd person hem you in. Figure out how to vary it as much as possible and still remain in that voice.


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