Points of You

The Year of the Cat

Omniscient, third-person, third person limited, first person… As writers we all make choices about points of view and reap the benefits or navigate the limitations of these choices.

Second person narration is rare in novel unless it’s a “choose your own adventure” story. That said, “you” is used in creative writing in three major ways:

In addressing readers directly to draw them in or dispense wisdom. An example from song-writing is All you Need is Love by the Beatles.

A second way is in addressing a single person, usually in conjunction with one or more first-person narrators. A sub-genre is epistolary novels such as the chilling We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver (2003) and the diabolically clever Les Liaisons dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos (1782). Another sub-genre takes the form of imaginary monologues. In Brendan Matthews’ short story, My Last Attempt to Explain to You What Happened with the Lion Tamer (Cincinnati Review, Summer 2009), an unnamed clown addresses a trapeze artist while the reader listens in. Kim Echlin also uses this narrative device with great success in her 2009 novel, The Disappeared. Looking at song lyrics, Hey Jude by the Beatles is one among a sea of great songs addressed at one particular individual.

A third way is in putting the reader right in the action. Apart from the aforementioned “choose your own adventure” genre, this device can be used to great effect in short stories and flash fiction. Song lyrics can sometimes be seen as flash fiction in that they tell a very short story from beginning to end. One example is The Year of the Cat co-written by Al Stewart and Peter Wood:

On a morning from a Bogart movie
In a country where they turn back time
You go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre
Contemplating a crime

More lyrics here.

Share your examples of points of you.

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