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Thread: First and Second Person: Is it Bad?

  1. #1
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    Default First and Second Person: Is it Bad?

    I'm planning on writing a story where this main character is talking in first person, but he's writing this to a friend in their experience. The friend is "you" instead of the name, and the main character is "I", since he's storytelling his experience of him to his friend of their experience.

    But is it confusing in some way, even if I write it in Present Tense in this? I mean, present tense isn't used that much.

    Also, when introducing those characters right out of the blue, do I have to explain a backstory on where they started so the reader can know? Or is it unnecessary to put a past image of the flashback?

    They start in Olivine City since they heard of this Battle Competition. They meet up with their 2 other friends and they compete against many other trainers so they can fight the Champion of Johto(not Lance). But I may write on how they might like take this competition pretty seriously when one is sucked in the passion of winning.

    Sorry if this is worded quite oddly, since I writing all my questions. So, what do you think is important to include, and yes those 2 main characters are the playable ones in HG/SS while the other two are original trainers.

    In this, I may make it about when Ethan and Lyra are tied neck and neck and see how they may go. Before they joined, they agreed to do a friendly competition.


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  2. #2
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    I wouldn't even call it a second-person point-of-view, since from what I can understand, first-person pronouns aren't ever used in second-person point-of-view. If you ever use pronouns such as "me", "my", and "I", then it'll be first-person.

    Now it depends. Is this an entire chaptered story you're writing, and this is just a single chapter from it, is it a one-shot, or is the entire story going to be written like this? If that's the case where the whole story is written like this without being a one-shot, I wouldn't go down that route and just write out normal chapters.

    If you want to write a chapter like this, like say the prologue (or heck, as a prelude to various chapters), that's fine. Having a letter as an opening piece of a story, as long as it's handled correctly, can be very interesting, and get the reader to yearn more about who these two characters are. Most likely it's a letter to a dear friend as a memoir, I take it? Well then, how about give us bits and pieces of this letter throughout the story? You'll have to be cautious with their flashbacks as to not give it totally away before we do see it, but to give hints wouldn't be a bad thing to do. I don't know what experiences they shared, but I imagine there had to have been issues that cause the writer of the letter to become a bit sorrowful at times, which would deepen the mystery as to what he/she was talking about, and thus kindle our desire to find out what happened.

    I think that's what you're asking about/going for, from what I've gathered.
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  3. #3
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    This isn't a one shot since I'm incorporating a few chapters.


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  4. #4

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    It sounds interesting to me. Second person doesn't get a lot of appreciation outside Choose Your Own Adventure books.
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  5. #5
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    Not even gonna beat around the bush here.

    No.

    A fic can be bad, but it's not the narrative style's fault. A fic might be hurt because the more introspective first person style might be preferable to third person for example, but it's not the fault of the third person style. It's like blaming your plate because a meal tasted bad.
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  6. #6
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    As Diddy said, using a certain point of view isn't going to automatically going to ruin your fic, nor will it automatically make your fic amazing. It's all in how you write that point of view and how you use it to tell the story.

    As with anything in writing, you should ask yourself what this point of view will add (or take away) from the story. Especially with referring to one of the characters as "you," because that connection implies that the reader should in some way feel connected to that character. Is there a specific reason you want to draw this parallel? What point would it serve? Would anything meaningful be lost if you took it away?

    Of course, this can work just fine. Dragonfree has written a couple of one-shots like this, as have I. As an example of how I used it, in my last one-shot the "you" was referring to the player/protagonist of the HeartGold/SoulSilver games. The narrator was one of the NPCs, so it was as if the NPC is speaking directly to you the reader/player, since you have played the games and likely battled him multiple times.

    As for introducing characters, you don't want to throw a load of information at the reader all at once, especially if it interrupts the flow of a story. It's called "infodumping," and it's not a good way to tell a story. You want to slowly reveal the important information as the story progresses in a way that feels natural and flows with the story.

    Honestly, I find flashbacks to be pretty cheesy in writing a lot of the time (especially since they tend to interrupt the flow if not written well), unless they serve a really good use that you couldn't get without a flashback. Most information you can reveal through dialogue or a character's inner thoughts. A very simple solution is to have two characters just catch up and tell one another what they've been up to. The characters won't tell each other every little detail of their life story, which is a good thing, because too many inconsequential details can bog down a story. By having them talk about just the important and relevant parts, you deliver all the information the reader needs to know without boring them.


    So my advice boils down to "only do something in a story if it being there serves a purpose." Using first person or providing tons of information just for the sake of it isn't a good reason in writing. Whatever you do should benefit the story overall without being distracting, interrupting the flow or anything else.

    Hope this helps,

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  7. #7
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    So..... if I write a prologue to sum up what they have gone through before I introduce the chapters, is that fine instead of infodumping them as flashbacks? I tried it in one story during too many flashbacks and it's too distracting when it comes to this.

    The reason why I wanted to do that is to test on how it goes since my concept is going to be different in terms of relationship. I won't exactly focus on her in terms of what's happening. I mean, he's writing it to her, but he's restating the events. Maybe only first person if it's going to be like this.......

    And I am planning on how their promise to battle friendly instead of like very seriously to backstab one another is going to ruin them. I may have a 90% chance of them battling each other in the semi finals, but Lyra is somewhat soft in battling but she wins that round before the semi finals because of Ethan's chanting that makes her do so, especially her Pokemon.

    The chapters may be 10 or 15 varying on each individual battle centering Ethan and Lyra.
    Last edited by Quilava42; 8th January 2013 at 8:40 PM.


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