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Unreliable Narrator

5afdbdea6cc6a977f741dda64897c4b6Have you ever read a story from the villain’s point of view? Ever tried to write one? What about a narrator that doesn’t tell the reader all of the truth? The narrator may not lie, not really, but they may not tell the reader everything that they know…

An unreliable narrator is just as it sounds — a narrator that the reader cannot rely on to tell all that they know. Narrators, either in first or third person, typically are the reader’s eyes into the world of the story. We see what the narrator sees, hear what they hear, remember what they remember. The narrator’s emotions are, generally, what the reader is supposed to feel while following the narrator through the story. This empathy is what keeps a reader invested in the book.

It’s difficult for a reader to empathize with the narrator if the narrator is unreliable.

Figuring out near the end of the book that the narrator suddenly knows something the reader did not or drops the act that the narrator had been performing throughout the novel can be a risky move. On one hand, having an unreliable narrator can keep the reader in suspense — to suddenly have the narrator reveal a grander plan than the reader originally knew can keep the thrill of the story going…

Or it can jolt the reader out of the story, citing that the narrator has gone out of character. It can also annoy the reader to have this narrator that we’ve been emotionally invested in suddenly change. Any empathy the reader had gets thrown out the window.

Then, of course, there are unreliable narrators that are played straight — a character that may have split personality disorder, that may have a troublesome memory, that may be known as a chronic liar. The readers ideally keep reading to see what is going to happen to the narrator, to figure out for themselves what is the truth or not.

Have you read any stories with unreliable narrators? Any really well-written ones, or did the narrator’s unreliability turn you off from the story?

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Posted by on August 8, 2017 in Home

 

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Nature vs Nurture

If your hero and villain switched places, how would they each react? How would the communities and people around them react?

What if your hero and villain were raised in the other’s place? If your villain had been raised with your hero’s background, would he/she still grow to be your story’s villain? What of your hero being raised how your villain had?

What would win out, nature or nurture? Would your character’s background, how he/she was raised, give way to their personality in the future, or are they slated for roles and personality?

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2016 in Home

 

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Villain Talk

How do you create the antagonists for your stories?

On one of my latest drafts of a story, I’m realizing that the antagonist spends most of her time hiding in the background. There’s one, maybe two, scenes that actually give readers a peek as to who she is and what she’s doing… I mean, I know what she’s doing and why she’s doing it, so I guess that’s a good thing as the writer.

Not many antagonists these days are villains just for the fun of it (although that would be an interesting challenge, wouldn’t it?). They need motivations just as the protagonists do, while probably also believing that they are in the right. Generally, they are seen as the foil to the protagonist, the opposite in ideals and actions. Alternatively, they could be seen as very similar to the protagonist — had the protagonist made one small change, taken a different road just that one time, and they themselves may have turned into the antagonist.

So how do villains crop up in your stories? Do you start with the protagonist and figure out how to best create someone to oppose them? Or maybe you start off with the problematic child and craft your hero around them? Maybe one of your protagonist’s best friends just happens to naturally evolve into the antagonist, or your protagonist themselves become their own worst enemy.

It’s definitely an interesting process, and it makes me wonder what’s up with my brain for creating such characters…

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2016 in Home

 

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