You don't like second person because at first it seems as though the text is telling you what you think, what you feel. But then you look down at your hands, down at the book being cradled in your fingers, and you recognize that second person narrative is just another form of suspension of disbelief. If you let yourself realize that the narrator is not you, but is actually you, then you can enjoy the story without any preconceived notion of what you would and wouldn't do in the situation. Once you get there, you cease struggling with the idea that you did whatever the book tells you that you did, and instead look into the story that unfolds because of what you did.
To get past all of that second person nonsense, I would recommend reading Jay McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City. Best use of second person I've read. Someone else mentioned Calvo's If on a winter's night, a traveler already, but while it's an interesting story it's quite experimental, which means that sometimes the issues you may encounter while reading actually have nothing to do with the second person itself and everything to do with the fact that it's just off the wall compared to standard prose, heh.
No. Second person very rarely works in prose because it eliminates the entire character building part. It's very lazy writing. Why bother creating a character with flaws and believable traits when you can write action and slap 'you' into the narrative?
I never even liked the pick your own adventure books, and as I got older, I began to suspect that the second person narration might have been why.
Like ~CrazyAce01, I think Choose Your Own Adventure books are the main place where second person is actually expected. There's no reason you couldn't write those as "If you want Dave to do X, turn to Y," or "What should I do? [Some options follow]," but since you're already getting the reader involved in the plot, you may as well go that final step and make the book about them.
Outside of that particular sort of book, I think it's one of those things that's a bit like a strong spice: best in small amounts, and not at all in most things. Then again, there will be those few things where it's good to have a lot of it. I'm not familiar with Homestuck, but in this analogy it might be a bit like a curry: it benefits from having lots of second person spice.
Any perspective can work as long as the intent is aligned to that method. There are simply some perspectives that are easier to accomplish in writing and others that take much more practice and skill. However, if a writer is competent in writing any perspective, then there is no reason that it shouldn't work.
MagpieMcGigglesFeatured By OwnerNov 10, 2012Hobbyist General Artist
I write everything in second or third, but due to my style of writing I've been told to write in first person. The only thing is, it bleeds into my perception of reality away from the blinking cursor. It really depends on how you write. I place a lot of emphasis on description which suits first person. If you are less image conscious then second or third omniscient would work best.
MagpieMcGigglesFeatured By OwnerNov 11, 2012Hobbyist General Artist
2 or 3 person requires the reader to become an active part of the story. Their imagination fuels the reader's perception. When reading from first person the reader must submit to the character's understanding of the world around them.
I dislike second person most of the time, but there are cases where it can be used well. It works pretty well in some games and stories where the story is being told to the main character. Second person also works pretty well for descriptions, but in high-emotion situations or tough decisions, it gets complicated. Readers don't like being told what to do.
I do have a project on the far back burner that would involve writing a story to instead of about the main character.
I think second person perspectives are rather difficult to write and very little writers do it to a standard that engages me, or I might just dislike it totally I'm not sure it's not a writing stile that I see very often.
It seems to occur a fair amount in poetry, but in fiction far less and usually not successfully. I've written maybe one story in 2nd person, and I honestly can't tell you that it worked. I recall that one person critiquing the story advised against it. Probably it's more acceptable in poetry because of certain conceits; we're more willing to accept that the work is addressed to someone who may or may not be us. In a short story, you're more inclined to wonder why, and sustaining that over the course of an entire novel must be difficult.
I like the second person, I think it engages the reader more, I mean, if someone's talking to you then you listen, in this case you read. It can be hard to maintain, but if you do it right then it comes out really well
Un homme qui dort is the only book I've read written in 2nd person, and it was extremely effective. (And my French isn't very good, so that's saying something.) It's one of the best books I've ever read, actually. But if the content wasn't something I completely related to in every way, then I can imagine I would have found it annoying. Or even if it was just a normal narrative, it wouldn't have worked very well.
I'm studying "If on a Winters Night a Traveler" in my English class at the moment and while initially the use of second person drew me in, I'm now growing frustrated by it. It just gets too confusing and feels a bit preachy.
That said, I'm a huge fan of the whole "choose your own adventure" format. Using second person can be effective.
Generally it is a bad idea, it just sounds odd. I have read stories where it worked, but the 'you' was never the reader, it was another character and the story was essentially addressed to that character. The only story I remember off the top of my head where it worked is "We didn't" by Stuart Dybek. I don't really do interactive books but I imagine it works better there because the reader has actually done something so it doesn't seem so presumptuous.