I Spy…

A narrator’s unreliability often comes as much from their perception as from their intention. They might intend to paint themselves as better people, or they might perceive themselves as better people than they are. The same goes for their perception of the characters around them (see past articles). But how do we show this conflict […]

A Little Truth, A Little Lie

We can have our narrator outright lie, be selective with the truth or we can blend truth and lies. Arguably this is another form of lie by omission for instance, if a character says they work at a hospital the odds are people will assume they’re either a nurse or a doctor but there are […]

I Might Not Have Told You Everything

In the previous article we looked at narrators lying directly but they can also lie by omission. This can be effective when we leave the reader speculating, or sneak the omission in so they don’t immediately notice and build towards it being important. But it also has its challengers, the primary problem is when the […]

I Said That But…

The biggest problem of the unreliable narrator is the lie. Not the mistake, the omission but the outright lie. This is problematic because this form of misinformation doesn’t always give the reader a chance to outthink the narrator or try and guess an outcome. It also serves to make the entire narrative unsound because if […]

Filling in the Blanks Revisited

In stories the protagonist is always in need of some knowledge whether it’s self-knowledge, or external knowledge, or something physical like blueprints. There’s always something the character knows at the end that they didn’t know before, even if it’s that they were right all along. Something that is noticeably important in first-person/subjective narration is how […]

What Do They Think They Know? Revisited

If we assume that what characters see and hear are facts, they may not always be but we’re keeping it simple, then how they interpret the ‘facts’ is what they think they know. When we’re writing a first-person/subjective narrative then we have to remember that the ‘truth’ and what the character thinks is the truth […]

What Do They Know?

The depiction of the other characters and the environment all depend on what the narrator knows, or think they know but we’ll come to that. What they know depends largely on what they see and what they’ve been told by other characters. While I’ve discussed the idea that what every character tells them depends on […]

What’s Their Motive? Revisited

A first-person/subjective narrator always has a motive. As we discussed when a narrator learns things from other characters the story they are told affects what they learn. The same is true of the protagonist to reader dynamic. How a narrator wants to be perceived affects what they tell the reader and how they tell it, […]

Finding Their Voice Revisited

A first-person/subjective narrator needs their own voice. The easiest way to approach this can be to think about it the same way you would think about a character’s speech because that is essentially what they’re doing. Either they are speaking to the reader, or another character as we’ve discussed, or they’re writing it down. Whichever […]

A Shift of Perspective Revisited

As I said in the previous article a first-person narrative is affected by the motivations of the characters but those motivations don’t have to be good, the first-person narrator is often used to create empathy for anti-heroes. Allowing readers to see everything through the perspective of the character can be used to persuade them of […]