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:
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.
Therefore, my question is:
How can I eliminate "you" sentences during narration? What techniques are there, and have they improved your storytelling at your table? How so?
I am speaking specifically about D&D 5e. I want to have additional ways to narrate that are in the spirit of that game system and that allow me to challenge or reframe the scene tonally without removing player agency.
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.
Continuing further along the trail, past the willow vines and into the quickly darkening forest, barely visible are the flickering forms of pale blue fire. They dance around the trees as if chasing one another, living out mischievous and playful past lives. The air here feels freezing and seems to clutch desperately onto warm skin. The trees seem oblivious of the harsh chill, and the branches in direct sunlight have begun to bud. Toads stare apathetically as the trail winds deeper into the darker parts of the woods.
Slightly obscuring the view into this primitive abode are thin strands of black filament that hang like a beaded curtain. The strands are still in the air, and each exhale comes out in lush plumes of fog. An intense feeling of dread muffles every sense. After all, anyone with any sense would have avoided this place. It is a place where no living being belongs.
Plain to see is a modestly furnished living quarters. Thinly coating the room and its furnishings is a veil of dust that leaves the room looking like it hasn’t been lived in for several centuries. Strangely, a pearl necklace with gold fastenings gleam in the dim blue-green light of the abode as though meticulously polished. A deathly silence hangs in the air.
Has anyone had success in spicing up their campaign by changing the point-of-view every now and again? Got any pointers?