Writing in the Second Person – On The Rocks

They say that one of the greatest challenges for a writer is to write in the second person (you) present tense.

I gave it a shot, a short story idea, but haven’t completed more than a very short set of introductory paragraphs. The upshot of this story, a confidence man stole your identity. He then stole a sailboat, believing that a) you know how to sail and that b) by stealing your identity he’d acquire your skills also. He was wrong.

Let’s join him as he sits on a sinking sailboat, storm tossed, off the coast of nowhere…


The sound of the surf crashing repeatedly into the shore should have been annoying; it was, after all, the middle of the night. Each thump of a wave, the physical shock not the sound, was echoed by the tinkling of the slowly melting ice in your glass.

It didn?t matter, really. She?d left, leaving a different kind of hole. One thing was for certain, that ship would never sail again.

Neither would this boat.

But this isn?t the right place to be working out those kinds of problems. Not as long as the boat was sitting like this, precariously perched on a few large rocks, a hole that was purely physical as if compensating for the emotional wreckage of the man.

The Man? that?d be you.

They say that Nero played the fiddle while Rome burned. Fiddles are cool. Rain isn?t. Rain is emotional. Always. Thunder and lightning, they?re just God?s adverbs.

He was using a lot of adverbs tonight.

It was safer in the physical wreck than out. You and your boat, one big Russian nested doll. Not sure if you?re the smallest piece or if there?s a smaller one hidden somewhere inside you. Maybe someone?ll have to try to crack you open and look.

You remember once watching a TV show that started with a woman?s voice claiming, ?This is the story of how I died.?

That always intrigued you.

This is the story of how you screwed up. Or maybe not. When you get to the end, you?ll re-read it and decide. Some of the details aren?t really clear at this point.

– – – –

Where should I start? Shall I tell you about the boat? It?s not mine.

Yeah, I stole it. But that?s OK. I?m not the person you think I am either. My name? I stole that, too. Maybe you should check your wallet: any pieces of ID missing? I?ll wait?
So someone stole the boat. He has my appearance but your name. Does that make him me? Can I be culpable for things done in your name? Probably. The law is a little anal.

Anyway, it was a nice boat, you really liked it.  That?s what I told anyone who asked.

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