When writers talk about perspectives, we usually discuss the 1st and 3rd.
First perspective being any story where the protagonist directly narrates his/her/their own story.
I walked to the shop to buy a loaf of bread.
Third perspective is where the character’s name is used or he/she, and thus the writer is able to relay events or news that the protagonist doesn’t know.
Yasmin walked to the shop to buy a loaf of bread. She didn’t know that the shop had closed early.
These perspectives are what we usually read, so what about second perspective? How can that be used? Instead of ‘I, he, she,’ the correct pronoun is ‘you’.
Often it is used for lists and instructions.
You place 10 grams of sugar in the bowl.
Very rarely do you see this perspective used in fiction. It’s sort of the poor relative of perspectives – and I do feel sorry for it – as when used properly it can be fresh and engaging.
I therefore decided to share a piece of flash fiction I wrote in the 2nd perspective (which happens to be from the viewpoint of a dog).
A bit random, but also quite fun, something the second perspective is maybe lacking.
Anyway here goes…
GOOD DOG RULES
You sit in the dumper-van, quiet and still, because only a good dog can be a dumper-van dog.
There are rules on how to be a good dog, you know.
You can wag your tail. It’s fine to do this, unless Jack says, play dead, and then you must partake in his game. You must lie motionless and not wag your tail. You must wait until he laughs at your bad attempt, laughing because your tail will not bend to your will. Only then can you stand and give him a lick.
You can’t fart.
But most importantly of all, you must not show you know he’s lying.
Recently you’ve noticed that he pretends to be sad when he’s happy. It is not for you to understand why he does this, even though the smell around his chest is all wrong when he grunts at Sammy. It’s the same way he grunts at you when you’ve chewed his favourite pair of socks, except you can tell he isn’t angry at Sammy.
To growl at Jack will give his lies away and you can control your barking, unlike the tail that betrays all thoughts and wishes.
Your tail wags when Sammy gets into the van even though you suspect Jack wishes it wouldn’t. But what can you do? You aren’t playing dead.
When the shift’s over you’re allowed to go into the back of the van and help Jack sort the leftover rubbish. There are two old mattresses and a threadbare sofa. You enjoy helping because Jack is a good master, but today he doesn’t finish sorting, instead he sits down on the sofa beside Sammy. Collecting scattered empty cans and rags by yourself isn’t much fun so after a while you snuggle between them.
You love having your shoulder scratched, especially when they both target that spot over your left shoulder. Their fingers interlock and their heat warms the muscle and bone that aches so much.
The smell around Jack for once matches the smile on his face. That’s when you notice their lips are touching.
All is well.
You can wag your tail.
And seeing as the back end of the dumper-van still reeks of rubbish, perhaps you can even fart.
Let me know your thoughts on second perspective and share any links you have to your own second perspective stories!