Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Four Viewpoints (Part 8 of 17)

It's all right to use second-person POV in certain kinds of nonfiction. I recommend it when the article or book is instructional and I'm an instructor giving you information or explaining how to make something. You talk directly to the readers (as this sentence does to you).

Most of my posts for this blog are written in second person. Perhaps it sounds boastful of me, but my reason is simple. I've been writing and selling professionally since 1971 and have published in almost every genre. Thus I feel I have the experience and credentials (my published work) to back up whatever I put it my blog. (Notice I wrote "experience and credentials," which doesn't mean I know everything. I share with you what I've learned.)

You don't need years of experience to write in second person. But be aware that you're coming across as the authority—the one who knows—and you're writing to someone who is ignorant or knows less about the topic than you do.

Be careful that you don't come across as patronizing—and I know a few writers who do that unintentionally. You don't want to sound like the condescending authoritarian who says, "There is only one way for you to accomplish this. You must do it my way to be successful."

When you write instructions or how-to material,
and you're sure of your material,
second person is a good choice.


  1. I am one who appreciates learning from your experiences. Thanks Cec!

  2. I would love to see suggestions from you on how to develop an un-patronizing style of writing. I think it's called humility. There must be particular ways to bring across a sense of teaching without a superior attitude. Are there certain words to avoid, others to include? Or do I simply have to keep a humble attitude, and it will come out in my writing?


What are your thoughts?