Second Person Point of View
Telling a story using you is called second person point of view. Using this viewpoint, you control all of the information and give the reader whatever you want.
Example: “You open your eyes and the sun is already high in the sky. You’ve slept away the whole morning. You roll over on the hot sand, scrambling to your knees. The events of last night come rushing back to you…”
Very little fiction is written in second person with the exception of “choose your own adventure” types of books, or books about psychosis. But it is a popular style for a lot of non-fiction self-help books, and tourism ads.
It often has a jarring effect in fiction and is the least popular viewpoint. Your reader picks up a book to escape into another character for awhile and using “you” destroys this illusion. And it just feels weird–as though you are being bossed around with someone always telling you what to do and feel.
Second person point of view is certainly the most rare and most difficult to use viewpoint, but there are instances when you may find beneficial to your story.
There are few genres which use second person and they are often short pieces.
• choose your own adventure books
• video games
• self-help books
• short pieces called POV stories
• travel articles
Things to Keep in Mind
I often see the writer use second person to address the audience directly, unexpectedly in the middle of the story. This generally results in a viewpoint breach and should be avoided. It pulls us out of the story and makes us wonder who just spoke to us. It reminds us that we are only reading a story, when really, you want your reader to be lost in the story and forget that he/she is reading.
So why would anyone want to write in second person point of view?
Until recently I would have said, never. But there are instances when you need to make an impression on the reader. One of my students used it in the opening chapter of his book to forcefully put the reader in the protagonist’s shoes. It was extremely well done and came off with a “Wonder Years” type of feel to it. So I take back my answer and say that second person does work in rare instances, when handled well. It is not something I’d recommend for the beginning writer though as it’s very hard to keep up consistently.