Narrator: Do We Trust Them?

August 12, 2015

Last week we heard from Catherine E. McLean about point of view versus viewpoint, and I want to take that to the next level this week.

Often times, we read a book and never truly think about the narrator.  The narrator disappears as the story absorbs us, and we allow ourselves to become the narrator.

But the narrator remains in control of the story and can thus decide what he tells the reader and what he does not.

So do we trust him?

History ChangedYou may or may not have noticed that I’m a bit of a historian.  I left high school and headed to college with a passion for history and the intent to study history until I was wizened and crippled.  You can imagine how surprised I was when my professors started talking about theories.

Theories?

In history?

Isn’t history about facts?

Apparently, it’s not.

History is written by the winners, and everyday historians are uncovering artifacts and primary sources that reveal a different kind of past than what we were led to believe by the evidence so far revealed.  This means history is always changing, and we are always learning about what life in a certain time period, during a specific event may have been like that may be somehow different from what we’ve believed so far.

Why is this important?

leaves and a foggy laneThe same goes for fiction and narrators.  The narrator only tells us what they believe the reader should know.  As a writer, this presents a welcomed challenge.  What can be done with a narrator that may or may not be trusted?

Don’t believe me?

Watch The Usual Suspects.  You’ll understand what I mean.

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