Friday, 16 March 2012

An Experiment in Second Person

Hi guys - okay, so I know the theme of the following flash fiction is about a month off, but I'd love to get your feedback on whether I've managed second-person, and whether it scans or not... what do you think?


Valentines day is valentines day. And you know that you have cocked this one up well and truly. You’ve made a mistake. He asked you out, and you thought that maybe it would be a clever move to say no. For once. He took it better than you expected. He didn’t have a tantrum or try to talk you into it, he just shrugged, pecked you on the cheek and sauntered off into the night. But why on earth did you have to do it tonight of all nights? You could have had cocktails and roses, but oh no… you wanted independence and authority. Who in their right mind wants that on February 14th?

It takes you back to being a teenager, all this hanging around the phone. You’ve been wearing a groove in the carpet between your desk and the sofa, handset in hand, waiting for it to ring. You know that the excuse you gave him for not going was completely lame – that you had a deadline to meet. Considering that he used to be your boss, he’s going see through that one pretty much immediately. You’re a workaholic freak who can’t let a piece of work untouched for more than about two minutes before you have to attack it and beat it into orderly submission. Your diary is perfectly mapped out, nothing interrupts your plans, and you’re clinically early… for everything. And he knows all of this, which makes blowing him off on Valentines night about as bad as it gets. To him, this is you practically screaming ‘IT’S OVER’ at him until his eardrums bleed. And you didn’t really want that, did you? You just wanted to show him that you don’t always say yes. Well, look how well that worked out for you.

Right now, you’re wishing that perhaps you were a bit messy, a bit disorganized – that there was a bit of work left for you to finish off or some washing left scattered on the floor. At least it would give you something to do other than pace from your retentively-organised desk, to your phone… and back again.

What are you planning to do? Call him? Say that you’re sorry, that actually you’d love to go out. That you are at his beck and call? You raise the handset and manage to punch in four numbers before lobbing it angrily at the sofa. No. There’s no point now. You’ve already managed to kill this one stone dead, just like all the others.

The doorbell rings and you pause your pacing before nervously deviating from your well-worn path in the carpet. You throw open the door of your apartment.
There’s no one there. You glance down the empty corridor, and then down at your welcome mat. At your feet sits an elegant cocktail glass balanced on a red coaster. Next to it lies a solitary yellow tulip with something tied to the stem.

You pick up the glass and the flower, and turning back into the apartment, you flick the door closed behind you with your foot. Perching on the edge of your sofa, you place the glass down gently on glass-topped table in front of you. You eased the rolled bundle from the stem of the flower, and unroll a hand-written note.

‘I just invented this cocktail for you. It’s neat and very clean. It has a sharp after-taste, and it drives you completely nuts – but still you can’t wait to take another sip.

I can’t wait to take another sip.

You smile, pick up the glass and take a sip.

Have a fab weekend! Laura xxx


  1. Great take on second person!

    It's rare to find a story written this way; I love coming across ones that are. :)

  2. I've never tried writing in 2nd person, but your piece reads absolutely fine with it. It takes a little to get into it, but only because it's so unusual to find in literature. Great ending too.

    By the way, I've tagged you in the Lucky 7 Meme over at my blog.

  3. Love the introspection, the self doubt. That works well with 2nd person. Fabulous twist to the end, that worked well.

    To me, 2nd person is deeper, and more present. I love the sentiments you've presented, but some of the verbiage interupts the flow. Phrases like "you know that you have", "You’ve been wearing a groove", "Right now, you’re wishing that perhaps you were" take the immediacy out of the flow.

    Use direct, present tense action and remove any past tense adverbs or description: you don't care that you ruined, you walk a groove, you think to call but dont. Those are just examples of how you can put the reader in the exact moment, feeling the frustration and confusion.

    I was caught up in her mood, and the movement towards the door bell ringing. The indecision was awesome, and 2nd person voice works well for this theme.

    An excellent, complete flash or vignette.


  4. Hi Laura. I love second person Laura but it needs to be used sparingly. It works very well when used as an interlude in either first/third person writing. It creates a warm feeling in the reader to be included. I think you thought you had to use you a lot to prove you were in second person. But you went a bit overboard causing that verbiage that Donna pointed out. A great experiment. We should all experiment more...


  5. Great post... second person is so hard to do and to be honest I can't think of any that come to mind. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I like second person. I don't think it would work for a novel, but for flash it's lovely. Thank you for giving her a happy ending :-)

  7. I have never tried writing second person (or even read much written from that PoV) but I really like what you have done here. Reads well!