Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Literary Conventions

Second person is a lot of fun to write, and I don't know why it's not more widely used.
Actually, I do, a little bit: Choose Your Own Adventure novels are considered a bit of a holdover from the 80s, and a lot of the people who find the form natural are going to gravitate to writing for video games.

This branches into two separate issues: literary conventions and differences between media.

Observant readers can probably guess what I'm covering today.

We have established storytelling forms, ways we make a story easy to parse for a reader. This tends to be through the employ of past tense, and usually either first or third person narration. Third person is far and away more common, even if we're only seeing the inside of one character's head. First person has recently become more popular for the Young Adult market, particularly in the paranormal romance genre (Twilight, House of Night, The Hunger Games), but third person past tense still dominates.

It's common enough to be invisible, partly because that's how it would naturally come out if someone was telling us a story about something someone else did. That is, quite often, the most comfortable position for a reader. I imagine I'd read far fewer romance novels if they were in second person: it would make them a decidedly uncomfortable prospect.

But readers have accepted and even embraced the conceit of the main character as narrator. Is it really that much of a step to ask that more accept the conceit of themselves as main character?

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