One thing I have noticed is that a lot of people struggle with the use of the second person (i.e. using the word "you"). The guidelines for the Elder Scrolls wikis state that all articles must be written from the third person POV. This is to make the articles more like encyclopedia entries - it makes them ultimately easier to understand, translate, etc.
It's easy to see and avoid the first person ("I went down the stairs", "He gave me the sword"). The second person is a bit harder to avoid, though. All these are examples of the use of the second person POV:
- "When you go down the stairs, you will see an oil-covered floor and three bandits with a burning lamp above"
- "After taking the sword, the Draugr will attack you."
- "Head down the stairs to see an oil-covered floor and three bandits with a burning lamp above"
- "Take the sword and the Dragur will attack."
The first two are obvious, but the last two are not so clear. They are examples of implied second person, because they are commands. In each of them, the word "you" is implied. The following sentences have exactly the same meaning:
- "You head down the stairs to see an oil-covered floor and three bandits with a burning lamp above"
- "You take the sword and the Dragur will attack."
Granted, no one would ever speak that way, but just because the word "you" is omitted doesn't change the fact that the second person POV is still present.
Putting things constantly in the third person is often challenging. There is the (relatively) easy way out of just substituting "The Dragonborn" for "you":
- "The Dragonborn then heads down the stairs to see an oil-covered floor and three bandits with a burning lamp above."
- "The Dragonborn takes the sword and then the Dragur will attack."
This really isn't much better. It's pretty stilted to read.
- "The Dragonborn should then head down the stairs to see an oil-covered floor and three bandits with a burning lamp above"
- "The Dragonborn should then take the sword, after which the Dragur will attack."
This is better, but it still suffers from repeating the same sentence subject over and over, which makes it harder to read long passages. There's also no direct way to improve it without just turning it back into a second person command.
The best way is to turn things around. Decide what the target is for the sentence, and then go there directly. For example, in the first sentence, the important point to convey is that the action continues down the stairs. So, instead try something like this:
- "Down the stairs is an oil-covered floor and three bandits with a burning lamp above."
Notice that this is actually shorter then the others. It wastes a minimum of words on useless information. This is actually easier to read.
For variety, you can mix up the sentence order:
- "An oil-covered floor and three bandits are down the stairs, with a burning lamp above."
The key is that the Dragonborn is not an important part of the sentence. You are describing features of the dungeon - the Dragonborn just happens to be there to see them.
Now, the second example sentence is a bit different. In this case, the Dragonborn is an important object of the sentence. Something is going to happen to the Dragonborn - there's no way around it. So, these are the times when it makes sense to use "the Dragonborn":
- "Upon taking the sword, the Dragonborn will be attacked by Draugr."
Yes, you could make this shorter by substituting "you" for "the Dragonborn", but now the important point is to preserve the existing POV. Switching between second and third person is a sign of bad writing, and makes things ultimately harder to understand.
If you are in a passage where a lot is happening to the Dragonborn, you might want to skip naming him or her in a few places:
- "Upon taking the sword, three Draugr will attack."
In this case, "the Dragonborn" is now implied. Use this sparingly, though, because it would be very easy to slip and add "you" to the end of that sentence, destroying the hard work by making it second person again.
Anyway, these are just my thoughts on the topic. I figured that there was the command to use the third person, but no examples of how to actually do it. I know that the Dragon Age Wiki was almost exclusively second person, so I know people are used to doing it that way, but the third person really does make things easier to read. It takes more effort to write that way, but the benefits to the reader are great. Cubears (talk) 05:34, August 13, 2013 (UTC)