Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Saturday, April 16, 2011

N is for Narrator

In fiction, the term NARRATOR is used for the ostensible author or teller of a story. In first person, the "I" is the NARRATOR. The NARRATOR may be in any of various relations to the events described, ranging from being their center (the protagonist) through various degrees of importance (minor characters) to being merely a witness. A NARRATOR is always present, at least by implication, in any work. A NARRATOR may be reliable or unreliable. If reliable, the reader accepts without serious question the statements of fact and judgment. If unreliable, the reader questions or seeks to qualify the statements of fact and judgment.

The NARRATOR may not always be the main character. In first person point of view, the narrator is most often the main character. However, there are instances where this isn't the case. In Breakfast at Tiffany's (awesome title btw) by Truman Capote, a first-person novel (more like a novella), the narrator is not the main character. The story consists of the narrator's relationship with and observations of the real main character, Holly Golightly (even more awesome character name).


(This post has been inspired by and in some instances, directly quoted from A Handbook to Literature, 8th Edition, by William Harmon and C. Hugh Holman)

17 comments:

  1. That tricksy narrator. You just don't know who to trust.

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  2. Donna, LOL, funny comment! And I didn't even go into the "unreliable narrator". One could write an entire post about that guy.

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  3. I don't think I could follow a narrator in the in a first person story if it wasn't the MC. Wait, would that make it 2nd person POV? Hmm, I don't really know.

    I also associate an unreliable narrator with the 1st POV. Mostly with escalated characters; ones that are discovering themselves and don't always see the larger picture. The MC misreads common signals or evidence contrary to their world view that t he reader is expected to pick up.

    I suppose unreliable narrators could be used with 3rd pov in a mystery; leaving clues that the characters aren't meant to pick up on, but the reader should . .

    Very thought provoking post Karen.

    ......dhole

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  4. So many variations! How about a narrator who is dead, like in The Lovely Bones?

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  5. Enjoyed this look at Narrators. A good twist on narration (imo) was an Agatha Christie book where Narrator was also Murderer ... was a real d'oh moment, but relied on a bit of jiggery pokery at the end of the book!
    Thanks for the N post
    All best, Karla

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  6. I love playing around with narrator conventions. Sometimes it's hard to decide what style to use!

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  7. I love writing in 1st person PoV and walking the thin line between reliable & unreliable-because-limited.

    Thanks for this post!

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  8. Very informative N post, thank you! Take care
    x

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  9. The narrator is definitely important. I actually like narratives that are told in the first-person best, because that way I get a deeper sense of what that character is thinking. That might also explain why I like to read memoirs. It's hard when a story has multiple narrators, though, because that can be confusing. I've read a few authors, though, who were able to use that technique very effectively.

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  10. That must be difficult to write a story in first person and that person not be the narrator.

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  11. narrators are important. Happy N day

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  12. Great choice for N. Great choice of books to talk about too. I loved Breakfast at Tiffany's

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  13. Great N post! I've not read a first person narration where it wasn't the main character. I wonder how confusing that may be.

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  14. Very informative post Karen. I think it must be very difficult to write a first person Narration who isn't the main character.

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  15. I think having an impartial narrator who lives outside the story has gone out of fashion, which is a shame because I've seen it work really well.

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  16. I'm lurking and reading all of your posts and every day you're getting so creative!!! Narrator wouldn't have even crossed my mind... then again I'm not always the most cut and dry with my posts!!!

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