The repetitive use of "you" in second person


#1

I’m currently in the middle of writing my own game and I’ve run into a recurring problem. I’ve started writing it in second person and practically every sentence I use where the player’s character is doing an action involves me using some form of the word “you” repeatedly.

An example would be: “After you’re done extending your legs, you check the clock to see you’ve been stretching for an entire thirty minutes!.” I’m unsure whether a reader would notice the repetitive use of it or not, but it definitely makes me feel uncomfortable as a writer. Is there a better way to write in second person or will I get more used to the word the more I write?


What "person" works best?
#2

Yeah, that bugs me too. I think when I try to avoid it it leads to more fragmented sentences - so something like “You’re done extending your legs, and check the clock. It’s been thirty minutes?”


#3

I ran into the problem and it’s a bit harder to change, in my opinion than when you’re doing first person and the I. What I usually do is write it, not caring about how many you’s I use, and then go through it a second time and kinda wipe the unnecessary ones out.

Most of the time that just means adding commas and rewording sentences, a bit like how @Scribblesome did.


#4

For me I usually write in first person and initially I had that problem too - was using too many Is but with time comes experience so you will overpass this problem I am sure about that and then it will become your second nature to write fragmented sentences and getting what you want out of the text
Nicely put @Scribblesome


#5

Woah just realised that ↑ could pass (barely) as an motivational speech.


#6

Here’s a sample of advice I found on this website:

Second Person POV

It’s a very powerful point of view with the ability to influence your reader in ways that first and third person don’t. The question then becomes, When is this the right choice for your piece?

There are several forms of writing where the second-person point of view is natural, and maybe even required. That list includes do-it-yourself tutorials, choose-your-own-adventure novels, and anywhere you as the author are giving instructions to your reader. (See what I just did there?) The second-person is best utilized when the point of the piece is to address the reader of the work, for instructional or emotional impact.

It’s that emotional impact that most writers are looking for when they reach for the second-person point of view (and when their intention isn’t to write the next viral blog post about do-it-yourself mason jar centerpieces). The second-person presents a very different emotional connection with a piece of prose than either the first or third manage. The reader is being directly addressed by the work in front of them, and it invites the reader inside the piece to experience the joy, anger, anxiety, or danger as their own personal experiences, and not simply those of a distanced character separated by the fourth wall of the page. It intensifies all of the emotions of your writing, as they reflect directly on the reader rather than on a character.


#7

The first “How to Write Things” book I read had a section on how pronouns and innocuous words like “said” sort of blend into the narrative. I tend to agree-- if you repeat the word innocuous twice in the same paragraph, it’s noticeable, but you can get away with dropping pronouns far more often.

While I’m fairly easily annoyed by redundancy in writing, I’ve rarely read through a story thinking “They use “You” like, five times in that paragraph, how dare they!” (and when I do, it’s because the sentences are wrong in other ways-- lots of “You notice the thing. You walk to the thing. You do the thing.” Repetitive, short, sentences with the same sentence structure that throw me off long enough that I start editing the paragraphs instead of reading.)

So changing these tends to be at the bottom of the priority list. So if you’ve got three options for a reworded sentence where one has repetitive “you’s”, another shifts the sentence to passive voice, and the third adds six useless words and a roundabout phrasing, go with the first one. That’s the lesser of the evils.

In short, try to change it where you feel like you’ve been overusing the word, but if whatever you try comes off sounding…well… off-- the rhythm is clunky, you have to switch to passive voice, etc.-- then leave it be.


#8

Yep, it bugs me too, but I don’t think there’s a way around that other than trying to avoid it by interchanging it with other phrases or by making long sentences that continue on with the initial “you”.


#9

I’ve found that the more I “tell” a story, the more I use “you”. The better I describe a story happening the less I use “you”.

vs

By the third or fourth pass, the first passage can usually be edited much easier as well - the more I find I tell a story the harder it gets to fix as the story is written.


#10

@PristineManiac4 Just read all the answers here. Absorb their wise words. Now think how many “you” you found until reaching this answer, and how little it meant for you. What you have to do is tell a story, not count words. There are programs for that. If the story is good, we will enjoy anything! xD


#11

Structure your sentences so the "you"s appear in different places, i.e. not always as the first word, and keep a focus on other characters/environment, and you should be fine.


#12

An issue I’m quite familiar with. Here’s how I would re-write your sentence: “The clock chimes in, thirty minutes have passed since you began exercising.” Another alternative: "After doing leg stretches for a while you glance at the clock and realize a whole thirty minutes have come and gone." With just a few changes I was able to cut the amount of “you” from four to one.

Every idea you have can be written in a dozen different ways, the trick here lies in thinking outside of the box and experimenting with the vocabulary to get something you’re satisfied with. Rather than writing things “as a matter of fact” (that’s usually what leads to a lots of bare-bone paragraphs and “yous”, as well as poor vocabulary) try to be a little more elaborate. Think of purple prose - rich details and an almost poetic (or roundabout) way of writing.