Can I write a story in 2nd POV without making it a cook book, or am I breaking some sort of rule?
You can do so – however, unless it is some kind of interactive book (which is also why cookbooks sometimes use the format), it can get old pretty fast.
2nd person POV, or “You walked up to the door and knocked three times” as opposed to “I walked up to the door and knocked three times” (first person POV) or “She walked up to the door and knocked three times” (3rd person POV), explicitly puts the reader into the story as the narrator-character.
This is a very important distinction.
In both first-person POV and third-person POV, the narrator is somebody else, telling the story to the reader.
In second-person POV, the language explicitly makes the reader the narrator.
This is fine in an interactive format – a cookbook or, as the other responses already mention, Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style formats – because in those cases, the reader literally IS the one taking the actions.
Video games also frequently use this format, for the same reason.
, “After you fold the egg yolks into the batter, pour the batter into the baking tray you have already prepared” makes perfect sense, because you, the reader, are presumably going to take these actions if you actually make the recipe; and you can imagine yourself following those directions as you review the recipe beforehand to decide if you actually DO want to make it.
“You walk up to a heavy wooden door.
What do you do?” – and then being presented with “Walk away”, or “Try the handle” as options – also make perfect sense because you, the reader (or the video-game player) are actually being offered a choice.
On the other hand, try reading a novel that starts out:
“You shift your feet nervously, never having been here before, but the day is sunny and the birds are singing cheerfully, and you can’t see any reason for the place’s dark reputation.
This is the 21st century, and there are no such things as vampires.
Or ghosts, or mummies, or any of the other nonsense the other girls liked to tell stories about around the campfire.
Your mission today is to sell cookies, and these people have a huge house, with statues out front, even! So they must have money.
Firmly, you lift your small fist and knock on the door.
For a long moment, there is no response.
Then the door creaks open.
Your heart speeds up, because nobody is there.
But then you realize they must just have some kind of automated system.
Relaxing, you step forward into the house.
“Hello?” you call out.
The door swings shut behind you just as you hear a voice from the next room.
Order sheet in hand, you head that way.
Now, how many readers do you think are already thinking, at that point –
And you’re only 500 words into the book.
2nd person POV forces your reader to be the narrator, to own and identify with the narrators’ actions, and if the reader can’t or doesn’t, they’re likely to get annoyed and/or upset and put the book down.
Other people doing stupid things that get them into trouble are one thing.
Even beloved other people; you want to keep reading to find out how they get themselves out of it again! Being told, on the other hand, that YOU are the one doing the stupid thing that you are sure that you would never do… That’s tricky.
Q: Can I write a story in 2nd POV without making it a cook book, or am I breaking some sort of rule?
I assume you mean 2nd person POV (“point of view”), and yes, you can write a book in 2nd person.
That just means your narrator is speaking in terms of “you” instead of “I” or “he/she”.
It’s a standard format for interactive fiction and visual novels.
Outside of that sort of context, it qualifies as experimental, but it can still be found sometimes, especially in short stories.
(I’ve written an urban fantasy one, myself, and I’ve seen both horror and sci-fi use it.
Perhaps because it is so unusual (and therefore is something that we all have limited exposure to), it’s extremely difficult to do well, and the story really has to suit the point of view.
It also has to “fit” its target reader, or they’ll fast get irritated at being told what they’re thinking, feeling, saying, doing.
So no rules broken by the point of view itself.
Have fun trying it if you want to.
Don’t be worried about breaking any sort of rules.
There is only one rule: Create your own rules.
At least that’s the rule I follow besides proper grammar rules and such, but my favorite thing to do with 2nd POV is to create an adventure book (choose this choice and flip to this page, etc.
), although I do warn you that creating an adventure book takes a lot of laying out and planning ahead to make sure the pages all fit together and nothing’s messed up.
I know I’m only 15 so I don’t exactly have a lot of experience, but it usually works for me.
I hope this was a helpful answer to your question and I would be delighted to answer more of your questions in the near future.
No, you’re not breaking any rules.
This is what I refer to as “dungeons and dragons mode”
“You walk up to a door…”
The quality of the writing will be paramount,as it always is.
Second person POV could come across as gimmicky and I think it’s harder to convey a realistic inner life, than it is in either first or third person, but if you do pull it off, it could be very effective.
Give it a go!