I have come to the conclusion that in materials I am preparing myself, I want to add more variety to narration by introducing information to the players without using second person point-of-view narration. What I am trying to avoid is trite and repetitive dialog such as:
You feel a cold breeze that causes your hair to stand on end. An uncanny feeling of dread grips you as you take in the macabre sight.
You feel very uncomfortably warm at the pit of this volcano, feeling the sweat pool in the armour that you neglected to doff.
You, you, you, you, you
Argh. I grow very weary of this word. “You” has almost lost all meaning for me. I do not have a formal writing background, but have been trying to catalog ways of capturing certain thematic or tonal elements in a scene without introducing the dreaded “y” word. It irritates me knowing that I use the word “you” as a crutch that, I feel, is strictly tonally limiting for scenes I am trying to design. I hope I am not the only one with this problem…
My approach so far has been to prepare some material that I can read off at a moment’s notice so that I don’t have to improvise something, being that I will almost assuredly fall back on starting the sentence (cringe) with the word “you”. I find it somewhat difficult to do so, but have managed at least to introduce a somewhat neutral hypothetical third party that narrates their feelings on tone or theme without encroaching on the player’s or player character’s feelings or emotions, as described in this question:
Third-Person Limited Narration or Third-Person Omniscient Narration?
However, I feel like again this is sort of boxing me in again, and will only lead to me becoming formulaic in my storytelling, but I’ll just be following a different formula. This time the formula being the Third-person limited or third-person omniscient formula.
My biggest concern here is the balance between player agency, and my narrative desires. I don’t want to tell them that they are experiencing a feeling of dread. I want to present to them with concepts that instill dread. I will write a damned book if need be.
One of the primary reasons being that I want to cue the players when there is a scary thing or a happy thing or whatever, to role play being scared (happy etc), without giving them the [BE SCARED] title card. Simultaneously I don’t want them to completely miss the cue either, or come away ignoring everything saying “my character wasn’t scared!”
I feel that a lot of my problem can be solved by judiciously avoiding the “You do X” format because, honestly, if you are anywhere it takes a moment to get a read on a room. Saying that the PCs walk into a house and “have an immediate feeling of dread” is really quite baloney to me and the more sessions I do, the more I realize that my use of this format as a crutch is dampening my enjoyment of the game.
Note, I am specifically talking about scene setting here, to narrow the scope. When a PC says “I look for a chair to sit down in” I just say “You find a comfortable chair” like a normal human being. This question is specific to scene setting where tonality and theming is important, without forcing emotions down a player or PC’s throat.
Here’s some example stuff I’ve written for LMoP to flesh out Conyberry (WARNING: SPOILERS) and I’m looking to broaden my writing and narration horizons… please let me know how to improve this question if it’s not clear what I’m trying to do.
Has anyone had success in spicing up their campaign by changing the point-of-view every now and again? Got any pointers?