The Future Is Second

It seems my marathon training and my writing capacity are intrinsically linked.

As my weekly mileage has increased over the last eight weeks I’ve found myself battling to produce anything more than micro-fiction. A drabble here, a fifty-five word flash there and a haiku perched in between them on some sort of minimalist plinth.

I’m assuming haikus perch. It seems fitting to me.

I digress.

I’ve hardly done any running this week as I rest up ahead of Sunday’s marathon and all of a sudden I’m getting ideas for longer pieces and the appetite for experimentation back.

This can only be a good thing.

For a long time I’ve wanted to play around with an unusual point of view – second person future to be exact. I had no idea what second person future was until I read a couple of stories a year or two back which employed this technique and they really stood out and stuck with me. For anyone who is as confused as I generally am, second person future (so I’m led to believe) goes something like this:-

You’ll open your eyes and you’ll see her, the shape of her body curling away from you. You’ll kiss her neck. Breathe in the scent of her skin. You’ll know what it is to be alive.

It’s quite tricky to sustain but it’s a great way to stretch your writing brain a little further than normal. Like all less-used POVs it can easily come across as a bit tricksy and gimmicky so it’s important to have the right story idea to try it out on. I got lucky today and had a story idea which I think is enhanced by telling it from this perspective. It’s still in draft but I think this might be good enough to test out on a few willing (or unwilling) short story website editors in the next few days.

Will keep you posted or post it here. Who can say what the future holds…

In the meantime if any of you lovely people have got odd storytelling angles you’ve wanted to try out (or have had success with) leave a comment and let me know!

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8 thoughts on “The Future Is Second

    • Yes – it’s a bit of a weird one Mel but definitely worth the effort. Will fire it off to a couple of places once I’ve tidied it up and we’ll see what happens. And thanks for the good luck message – I’m going to need it as it’s going to be very hot it seems! That first beer is going to taste SO good…

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  1. First of all – Very good luck on Sunday – I hope you actually enjoy it or at least you’ll love it when you stop. !

    Yes, that seems like a tricksy POV. My novel Who Follows is all in first person and I have to say it was challenging but thoroughly satisfying to write. I look forward to reading your next submission and yes I think Haikus probably perch but only on teeny little flimsy branches.

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    • Thanks Diane – I’m looking forward to the 24km/25km mark which takes me almost past my front door. Seeing T, Arwen and Rhys will give me a timely boost at that point 🙂

      The best example I’ve seen of that POV was How You’ll Wake Up Lena on SBS – great story and memorable because of the style. The main thing about what I wrote yesterday was that it was FUN, and that’s been missing a bit from my writing recently. I can understand the sense of satisfaction you must have got from completing a first person novel! You’ll see my finished story soon I’m sure…

      Good point about haikus – they are fragile little things and a plinth would only be appropriate for a haiku gathering of some kind. I wonder what the collective noun for haikus is…a discipline of haikus? Answers on a postcard…

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  2. Good luck Sunday! I’m honestly a bit jealous. Between stomach surgery and a re-injuring my knee, I can’t seem to run more than a few miles at a time anymore. And even then, it’s sporadic. So I’m just living vicariously through other runners like you…

    Yes, that does mean I’m a needy blog reader and will require a full report from you post-race. Thanks for your understanding and cooperation. 🙂

    I’m looking forward to your story! I’ve only read a handful of stories with second person future POV. I tried to write my own once, but it got so far away from me that I refuse to try again! It was REALLY and truly HOrRIBLE!! I’m in awe of anyone who can pull it off!

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    • Thanks Jess – I’ve never had a good marathon experience (this will be my 4th) so I’m hoping that this one will be a little better. Sorry to hear you are unable to run as much as you’d like but even getting out and doing a couple of miles is a good thing. Oh and your needs are duly noted O Needy One 🙂 Will make sure you get a full write up 🙂

      I’m going to tidy up the story today and then (assuming I remain happy with it) I will fire it off to my fellow Literally Stories editors to see what they think. So hopefully it’ll make the grade and be up on their site soon! It’s a difficult POV to sustain that’s for sure – although I feel the storyline I’m using would benefit by being a bit longer (only about 650-700 words at present). I’m not sure it will inspire awe but I’d love to hear your thoughts as and when it appears!

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  3. My first experience of second person was in a story by David Foster Wallace, “Forever Overhead.” Amazing, amazing story. I highly recommend it, as well as the whole book it’s from – Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.

    Ever since then I’ve been intrigued by second person. I agree with you that in the right scenario it can have a powerful effect. I’d love to read yours when it’s done!

    Here’s my stab at it, if you’re curious: https://snbradywriter.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/alone/

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    • Excellent – thanks for the tip and the link. Enjoyed your story very much – and the POV added to the overall effect rather than detracting or coming across as gimmicky. My story is with my lovely fellow editors at Literally Stories so hopefully they will give it the collective thumbs up and it’ll be up on the site soon – will keep you posted!

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