Friday, April 13, 2012

Writing in the second person

This week at the Creative Writing Group the members were asked to write a short piece of fiction to provide themselves with some material to 'play around with.'
They were then asked to rewrite a section of their story in the second person and, if it seemed appropriate, also change the tense. Some people thought this was going to be difficult but then found it worked well. Moving from the first person narrator or a third person narrative really made them think about ways of expressing what they wanted to say. In a couple of cases the stories presented few difficulties, they worked well. In at least one the writer was not happy with it at all: from which we concluded that second person works better for some types of stories than others. Generally it seems to work well with present tense narratives and it is useful for creating drama or in sinister mood!

The Queue
by Sue Almond

You move forward, shuffling uncomfortably as the guy behind you intrudes on your personal space. You try to create distance, without moving too close to the person in front. He turns around and you see that he looks puzzled, uneasy, almost causing you to blurt out,´You look like I feel, mate.´ Then you realise that that is literally true and, feeling uncomfortable, you look around. Behind you the line stretches out of view and there is no discernible movement. Everyone looks docile, dazed even; men, women, old and young, a scattering of children but perhaps the elderly predominating.

You realise that you do not recall how you got here, why you are in the queue or what you are waiting for. Turning to look at those in front of you you see that the head of the line is in sight. The guy before you is still looking around as if trying to work out what is going on. In front of him is a woman, decidedly agitated, eyes darting nervously around. She moves from foot to foot and begins to chew her bottom lip. Further forward there is more animation. It seems as if the closer they get to the front,
the more lively everyone becomes. They all look somewhat scared. Their excitement is not that of happy anticipation but of reluctance to reach the front of the queue where, now you can see, there is a woman dressed in a white tunic, almost like a nurse´s uniform but with no cap. She has a clip board and she is beckoning people forward one by one. You feel a sense of panic rising as you step forward again, keeping pace with the movement of the line.

Why can´t you remember what you are waiting for, how you got here? Are you suffering from amnesia? Have you had an accident or a bump on the head? Why is the queue so impossibly long? How long have you been waiting?

The panic mounts and you feel nauseous. You realise that your agitation must be obvious and feel an odd embarrassment. You accidentally catch the eye of the chap behind and he almost grins before a confused look comes over his features. You begin to suspect that no-one else knows why they are there either.

There are only two people in front of you now. Then one. It´s your turn and you are filled with dread.

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