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8/3/2017 The7NarratorTypes:andYouThoughtThereWereOnlyTwo!

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The 7 Narrator Types: and You


Thought There Were Only Two!
BY STEPHANIE ORGES SEPTEMBER 9, 2011 WRITING TIPS

Photo by Charles Hutchins

There are all kinds of narratorsgoing way beyond


simple first or third person. Heresa little study of the
different types.

First Person
1. The Protagonist
Relatively straightforward, this is a story the hero
narrates. Hell narrate the same way he talks, but with

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more description and perhaps better grammar. The


reader is privy to all his thoughts and opinions, which
means we get to know the hero faster, and often relate
to him more easily.
Example:

I take up my pen in the year of grace 17,


and go back to the time when my father kept
the Admiral Benbow inn, and the brown old
seaman, with the saber cut, first took up his
lodging under our roof.
Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island, by Robert
Louis Stevenson

2. The Secondary Character


Someone close to the protagonist, but not the main
hero. The same things in the above type apply to this
type, but the focus of the story moves away from the
narrator.
Example:

Dr. Watson, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, said


Stamford, introducing us.
How are you? he said cordially, gripping my
hand with a strength for which I should hardly
have given him credit. You have been in
Afghanistan, I perceive.
How on earth did you know that? I asked in
astonishment.
Never mind, said he, chuckling to himself.
Watson in A Study in Scarlet, by Sir Arthur
Conan Doyle

Third Person
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Third person omniscient

This type knows all, peeking into the lives of major and
minor characters, reading everyones thoughts. This
enables the writer to explore multiple facets of the story
in depth. Cornelia Funkes Inkheart trilogy, for example.

Third person limited

This type knows only what the main character, or


characters, know. This is more restrictive, but increases
suspense and intrigue, because the reader only solves
the mystery at the same time the characters do. 1984, by
George Orwell, is a good example.

The following types can fall into either omniscient or


limited:

3. The Detached Observer


A detached third person narrator sticks to telling the
story, and never inserts his own opinionsnever slips in
an I or a me except in direct dialogue. You probably
wont notice voice at all. Its fruitless to give an excerpt
showing what a writer didnt do, but Orwells 1984 is,
again, a good example.

4. The Commentator
This type never physically enters the story, but freely
adds in his own amusing commentary. Allows voice
without the complication of using an existing character.
Example:

The curtains of his bed were drawn aside; and


Scrooge, starting up into a halfrecumbent
attitude, found himself facetoface with the
unearthly visitor who drew them: as close to it
as I am now to you, and I am standing in the

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spirit at your elbow.


A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens

Somewhere in Between
Or maybe the narrator isnt a strict third person, but is
involved in the story in some way.

5. The Interviewer
This type has collected the details of the story after it
happened, such as by interviewing the characters. This
lends a sense of reality to the story.
Example:

It brought both a smell and a sound, a musical


sound. Edmund and Eustace would never talk
about it afterwards. Lucy could only say, It
would break your heart. Why, said I, was it
so sad? Sad! No, said Lucy.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis

6. The Secret Character


Sometimes a narrator only pretends to removed from
the storythey may refer to themselves in third person
right up to the end, but will eventually be mentioned by
some other character, or revealed to be a major
character, even the villain, for an extrapleasing plot
twist.
Example:

Lemony? Violet repeated. They would have


named me Lemony? Where did they get that
idea?
From someone who died, presumably, Klaus

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said.
The End, by Lemony Snicket

7. The Unreliable Narrator


Usually first person, but occasionally third, an unreliable
narrator has a flawed point of view. That is, the writer
intentionally made him biased, misinformed, insane, etc.
Examples include Nelly in Wuthering Heights, by Emily
Bront, or Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye, by
J.D. Salinger. Heres one from Poe.

Example:

If still you think me mad, you will think no


longer when I describe the wise precautions I
took for the concealment of the body. The
night waned, and I worked hastily, but in
silence. First of all I dismembered the corpse.

The TellTale Heart, by Edgar Allen Poe

Some of these such as the Unreliable Narrator are


established terms, while Ive coined many of them
myself.Can you think of any other types? What type are
you using in your work in progress?

Related Reading:
1. 5 ways to find your voicein 5 voices

2. The 300th Post: Featuring the Top 10

3. A Madeup Word That Will Add Depth to


Your Characters

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About Stephanie Orges

Stephanie is an awardwinning copywriter,


aspiring novelist, and barely passable
ukulele player. Here, she offers writing
prompts, tips, and moderatetodeep
philosophical discussions. You can also find
her on Google+ and Pinterest.

View all posts by Stephanie Orges

TAGGED creative writing, fiction, fiction writing, how to write a

novel, how to write a short story, how to write with

voice, writer's dictionary, writing, writing help. BOOKMARK THE

PERMALINK.

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89 Comments

Pink Woods
September 10, 2011 at 3:53 am

What type are you using in your work in


progress?

Oh, this is hard. When I was really a beginner,


I only knew of a firstperson perspective the
protagonist, then soon I learned of the third
POV I usually used the limited type then I
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sometimes I combined it with a commentator


or interviewer narrator type.
REPLY

bekindrewrite
September 12, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Limited is hard! Ill try to write


limited, but find myself wanting to
say things I couldnt possibly know.
REPLY

joanna
September 23, 2013 at 2:08
am

Im in the same boat. I want


to write a story from the
perspective of the son of
the one of the characters,
but even the style is
cramping me up. Mainly
since the story is written
from back to current. Just
THINKING about it is giving
me a headache. At the same
time, I want there to be
some connection to the
character. Third person
omniscient would give me
more leeway but wouldnt
feel as close. Decisions,
decisions. And I HATE re
writes. So Im gonna have to
plough through this long
hand, until I have an idea. .
REPLY

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Stephanie Orges
September 23,
2013 at 10:16 pm

Hmm. Is the son


writing the story
years after it
happened? If so, he
may know some
things about the
story now he didnt
then. There could
be scenes he
personally
remembers, and
scenes hes
retelling that he
heard from his
father mother? or
others. That would
give you some
more leeway
without being
totally third
person.
REPLY

Writer of Riders
June 21, 2013 at 6:58 pm

How you write it is important.


Though the thing I read for the most
is content. It depends what subject
you value most. Since we are led to
believe one thing is better than
another.
REPLY

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Stephanie Orges
June 21, 2013 at 7:56 pm

Which thing is that? Can


you clarify?
REPLY

Brigitta M
January 15, 2014 at 10:01 am

When I write my first draft, its always


thirdperson limited. For me, this is
an easy style to write in while at the
same time stopping me from
wandering all over the place and not
getting what Im working on done.
After that? Well, then I have fun. A
ghost story Ive previously written is
going to have a campfire storytelling
style. I know its not one you
mentioned and the term is my own,
but Ive seen it a number of times in
horror tales and not really outside of
it. Its a meandering type of POV,
occasionally comments, but the
commentary style drops off
completely during the climax. My
WiP though is going to be pure
commentary. Its a horrorcomedysf
adventure thing. The voice Im going
for is a new one for me, but its
classic Folk Lore storytelling style
where its heavyhanded
commentary and everything is said
matteroffact as if Of course time
travel and vampires exist, where have
you been?
REPLY
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REPLY

Stephanie Orges
January 17, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Haha, the matteroffact


voice sounds hilarious!
Sounds like a good policy to
start with third person
limited, too. Seems like
thats the only one that
would allow you to easily
switch to first person, or
expand to omniscient. if you
decided you wanted to.
REPLY

Blanca Ramirez
December 13, 2015 at 5:19 pm

Not what i wanted


REPLY

Drew Lane Composer


September 10, 2011 at 6:19 am

Hey BeKind another truly excellent post.


You are an inspiration and a wonderful
mentor. Thank you!
REPLY

bekindrewrite
September 12, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Thank YOU.
REPLY

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laurastanfill
September 10, 2011 at 7:16 am

What a wonderful list! Ive been writing my


historical novel in thirdperson omniscient
and I love how you broke that category into
subcategories. My narrator is definitely a
commentator.
REPLY

bekindrewrite
September 12, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Commentators are fun. Its almost


like one of the characters is
gossiping in your ear about the story.
REPLY

laurastanfill
September 12, 2011 at 9:01
pm

Totally! I love that you broke


it out as its own POV option.
Im having so much fun with
that psstlisten to this!
style, even though Ive only
ever written first person
protagonist before.
REPLY

Story Sage
June 23, 2013 at 2:25 pm

I love how Charles Dickens


A Christmas Carol was

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used as the example for


commentators. Hes truly
the king of engaging
narrating! He mocks nearly
everything and is always
providing useful and
humorous insights about
the story. At some point I
want to try to write using a
commentating narrator, but
I dont think Im ready to be
that clever yet!
REPLY

Stephanie Orges
June 24, 2013 at
9:46 pm

He is fantastic. You
should give it a go!
You may be
surprised. :
REPLY

writingsprint
September 10, 2011 at 9:11 am

Ive heard that in Bright Lights, Big City the


author used second person to make the main
character more immediate to the reader
You are not the kind of guy who would be at
a place like this

Im a big fan of the unreliable narrator. It gives


the story a flavor that 3rd person omniscient
just doesnt have. When you change
perspectives, you get to change tone and how

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the story feels. This is exactly what I plan to


do during Voice Week!
REPLY

bekindrewrite
September 12, 2011 at 7:55 pm

I think I heard that somewhere, too.


Ill have to look that book up. Choose
Your Own Adventure books use
second person. It seems like it would
be cumbersome in large doses.

Good point on the flavor of an


unreliable narration. It definitely adds
interest. Voice Week! So excited!
REPLY

Paul
February 21, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Lorrie Moore has a collection of


stories written in the second person,
entitled Self Help they may not all
be second person. My favorite of
them is How to Become a Writer.
Tom Robbins also has a novel written
in the second person.
REPLY

Stephanie Orges
February 24, 2014 at 10:18
pm

Thanks for those examples!


REPLY

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romancingforthrills
September 11, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Wow, so many! I tend to use first person or


third person alternating pov. I never realised
there are so many. Thanks for sharing
REPLY

bekindrewrite
September 12, 2011 at 8:33 pm

Alternating POVs can be very cool.


TragicPete, my brother, is writing a
book that actually switches from first
person to third personwhich is
insane, of course, but it works.
Mostly because the main character is
insane. :
REPLY

4amWriter
September 11, 2011 at 7:34 pm

I love how you sort out the different points of


view and give examples for us more visual
learners. I, myself, prefer the firstperson or
thirdperson limited, although I have been
tempted to play around with the unreliable
narrator just to see what happens.

Matter of fact, your post comes at the most


opportune time for me as Im in the process
of blogging about my latest experience with
POV issues. I will be citing your helpful
information in my post.
REPLY

bekindrewrite
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bekindrewrite
September 12, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Sweet! Thanks for sharing!


REPLY

jahumm
September 12, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Great post thanks! My personal favourite is


the unreliable narrator they are the best fun
to create. Really enjoyed John Hewitts blog
article too, so thank you for signposting to
that.
REPLY

bekindrewrite
September 12, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Youre very welcome! Thanks for


reading. :
REPLY

Tom McCranie
October 2, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Thank you. Ill make sure the others in my


writing groups know about this essay and
your newsletter.

I often write my first draft in first person and


then change to Limited. My most recent
attempt started in first and then changed to
Limited. As a writing exercise, I tried a very
short story in second person and found it very
difficult. Perhaps the difficulty in writing
second person is the reason you didnt

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mention it, although some very good stories


have used it.

Thank you for your thought provoking and


information laden newsletter.
REPLY

bekindrewrite
October 3, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Thanks for spreading the word!

Yeah, I considered mentioning 2nd,


but it is so rare and limiting, I
decided not to. The Choose Your
Own Adventure books are one
example, and as writingsprint
mentions above, Bright Lights, Big
City is apparently entirely second
person. Ill have to read that one, if
only as a learning experience.
REPLY

chriswhitewrites
October 3, 2011 at 2:47 am

Trying to write my novella in the first person


past tensealthough it is getting harder to
keep from revealling things the character
knows because of his timeline, and the reader
finding out too much of the story to make it
uninteresting. May go to seperate styles in
each chapter instead too much to think
about, too many styles to try. To the short
stories this way my wife thinks Im still serious
writing, not having fun!
REPLY

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bekindrewrite
October 3, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Haha. Yeah, its difficult to find a


balance between giving too much
away and being obvious about
hiding something from your readers.
Its probably best to state only the
facts you have to state, and let the
readers draw conclusions
themselvesuntil all is revealed at the
end!
REPLY

littlewonder2
September 2, 2012 at 8:21 am

My WIP uses the Interviewer. Shes really the


character that ties the overall big picture in
together, actually. The story starts in one
extreme and ends in the other, through a
chain of characters, so shes the one who
takes it through to the end.
REPLY

bekindrewrite
September 3, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Sounds really cool. I use the


Interviewer myself!
REPLY

Gus Sanchez
September 10, 2012 at 9:19 am

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The unreliable narrator is actually kind of fun


to write. Im employing this narrative device
on my current project. The best example of
the unreliable narrator is Raskolnikov Crime
and Punishment.
REPLY

';ljhgfddddddsasdfty
November 19, 2012 at 3:42 pm

you forgot omnicien narrator


REPLY

bekindrewrite
November 19, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Omniscient is directly under the


Third Person heading third
person omniscient. Though I
suppose a firstperson omniscient
would be a fascinating narrator!
REPLY

Rod Griffiths
November 27, 2014 at 9:01
am

I am currently writing what I


hope will be a novel. part is
written first person
omniscient. The character
concerned is a ghost and
sees into everyone. As I may
submit this for my MA I
would be interested to

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know of other first person


omniscient stories. So far I
am sure about The Book
Thief, Zusak Markus, the
narrator is Death. The
Lovely Bones Alice Sebold
the narrator is a ghost.
Blackberry Wine, Joanne
Harris the narrator is a
bottle of wine. In each case
a somewhat unusual
narrator, but judging by the
sales of those books it can
work.
REPLY

Stephanie Orges
December 1, 2014
at 10:01 pm

Unusual narrators
are the best! The
Book Thief is a
great example; I
havent read the
other two. But a
third person
omniscient doesnt
have to be
unusual per se.
Enders Game,
Inkheart, and
Battlefield Earth all
have fairly
straightforward
third person
omniscient
narrators.
REPLY
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REPLY

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Jerry Slauter
March 22, 2013 at 3:21 pm

How about
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Salieri
for an unrealiable narrator in Amadeous?
Antonio Salieri was played by f. Murray
Abraham.
REPLY

Stephanie Orges
March 22, 2013 at 9:08 pm

I havent seen it, but it does indeed


look like a good example. Thank you,
Jerry!
REPLY

Matt Smith
April 15, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Welp, thanks for ruining then end of series of


unfortunate events
REPLY

Stephanie Orges
April 15, 2013 at 11:44 pm

I didnt ruin it at all. Klaus assumed


the name came from somebody who
died, that doesnt mean he was right.

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How could Lemony be writing the


story if he died???
When I do give away the endings of
things, I always try to give fair
warning with spoiler alerts.
REPLY

Izzi Skyy
May 28, 2013 at 10:49 am

Great post! A good example of the Unreliable


Narrator is Fyodor Dostoyevskys Notes from
Underground. The Underground Man
narrator of the work often contradicts
himself and oftentimes seems mentally ill
during the duration of the book. Notes from
Underground is also separated into two
halves: the first, a collection of the
Underground Mans personal thoughts; the
second, a story. The first half displays more of
his unreliability, but either way, anybody
interested in learning more uses for the
Unreliable Narrator may be interested in
reading Notes from Underground, along
with many of Dostoyevskys other works.
REPLY

Stephanie Orges
May 31, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Awesome example; thank you!


REPLY

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October 18, 2013 at 12:38 am

Is this an example of an unreliable narrator?

Bullroarer charged the ranks of the goblins of


Mount Gram in the Battle of the Green Fields,
and knocked their king Golfimbuls head clean
off with a wooden club. It sailed a hundred
yards through the air and went down a rabbit
hole, and in this way the battle was won and
the game of Golf invented at the same time
moment.
REPLY

Stephanie Orges
October 18, 2013 at 8:41 am

One of my favorite quotes from The


Hobbit! And yes, I think it can be an
example of an unreliable narrator
as someone who is perhaps telling a
tall tale though who are we to say
what really happens in Middle
Earth?. Thanks for commenting with
that!
REPLY

Sunny
October 26, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Is the narrator of the book Daisy Miller an


example of an unreliable narrator. He usually
has thoughts influenced by his aunts gossip
and the jealousy he holds when the
protagonist is having an affair with another
person.
REPLY

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Stephanie Orges
October 26, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Sounds like a great example! I


havent read it.
REPLY

Stephanie
February 14, 2014 at 12:01 am

Guys, I really need your help.


I am writing a story in 3rd person.However I
bring forth the protagonists POV also who is
a mom telling her story to her daughter. She
goes in flashback mode and tells the story.
However in flashbackI have two characters
Mom herself and a subplot character. I want
to write a couple of chapters in that subplot
characters POV.
Please suggest how to do this? Thanks a lot
for your help!!!
REPLY

Stephanie Orges
February 15, 2014 at 11:38 am

Hi, fellow Stephanie!

If Im reading this right, it sounds like


you have three POVs the third
person narrator, the mom, and the
subplot character. It will depend on
how much of the story is in each
POV. The trick is to think of your
third person narrator as a character,
too. Who is s/he? How does he know

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all these stories and why does he


care?

1. The narrator could be an existing


character the daughter, perhaps.
She could be recording what her
mother is telling her, and she could
also interview Mr. Subplot for his
story. She neednt reveal that she is
the narrator and thus slip from third
into first person until the end. Could
make a cool plot twist, even.

2. The narrator could be a new


character you create who knows
Mom, daughter, and Subplot.
Someone in the position to learn
their stories. For instance, someone
who overheard Mom telling
daughter her story, or someone who
got the story from daughter
secondhand, later on, and who
collected Subplots story in a similar
way.

3. Consider the possibility of telling


the entire flashback from Moms
POV, including Subplots parts. There
may be things that happen to
Subplot that Mom doesnt see
brainstorm some ways those events
could be revealed as plot twists later.
But dont force it if it doesnt work,
it doesnt work.

4. Or maybe your narrator was


secretly Subplot all along???

For a good example of layered


narration, check out some of P.G.

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Wodehouses Mr. Mulliner stories.


They all start with a first person
narrator sitting in a pub. Mr. Mulliner
is also in the pub, and starts telling a
story about one of his relatives, for
which he usually switches into third
person. You can read one free here,
although the weird formatting makes
it difficult.

Does that help?


REPLY

Bryan Ens
April 9, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Looks like Writingspring already said what I


was going to mention2nd person narrative.
Its rather rare, but an interesting technique if
the author wants to make the reader the main
character. When I was a kid, I read a lot of
Choose Your Own Adventure books. These
were written in 2nd person.
REPLY

Stephanie Orges
April 14, 2014 at 9:44 pm

I loved Choose Your Own Adventure


books! Somehow I always ended up
dying somehow, though. Second
person is definitely worth a mention,
albeit difficult to pull off in long form
prose. Admittedly, though, the more
I think about it, the more I want to
try it!
REPLY

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A.M. Writer
November 17, 2014 at 11:46 am

I might still categorize my newest work as


First Person, but with a twist you may find
interesting. My main character suffers from
Multiple Personality Disorder. Each person is
written in First, and each talks about the
others as Thirdsas if they are aware of these
other people but believe they are real
individuals with their own bodies. Oh, and of
course theres a murder.
REPLY

Stephanie Orges
November 17, 2014 at 6:53 pm

That sounds like a LOT of fun!


REPLY

Gila
November 25, 2014 at 10:40 am

Thank you for writing this! Im writing a novel


with ten different points of view, all first
person, and two of them are unreliable
narrators which I had actually never heard of.
I put the link to this article in my story its
online and gave you all credit. I hope thats
okay.
Thanks!
REPLY

Stephanie Orges
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Stephanie Orges
December 1, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Thats totally fine thanks!


REPLY

Barabi
January 19, 2015 at 12:36 pm

Theres one particular fantasy that Ive been


writing with #6, The Secret Character, kind of
blended with the commentator/unreliable.
Hes basically a third person omniscient in
the form of a bird that follows the main
character around telling whats happening.
The whole story is like his confessional, and
his sly narrative comments gradually reveal
how everything started because of his own
actions. The readers wont know who the
narrator is or how literal hes meant to be
taken until late in the story.

Its a weird POV to work with, but its a ton of


fun to write. Im glad to finally have a word for
it haha
REPLY

Stephanie Orges
January 19, 2015 at 5:38 pm

One of my favorite kinds of narrator!


They are SOO much fun.
REPLY

Elizabeth
March 26, 2015 at 9:04 am

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Im doing a similar one.


REPLY

Georgia
April 30, 2015 at 7:03 pm

Thanks Ms. Stephanie Orges for sharing this


list with us. Ill surely share this to my students
as well. it is indeed very helpful and clearly
stated.
REPLY

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D.S.
June 26, 2015 at 12:53 am

I appreciate this list. Ive regrettably forgotten


some things from highschool literature.

For the story that Im working on, Im a little


torn between thirdperson omniscient and
thirdperson limited. I feel like I want the
narrator to be able to give fine details on the
thoughts and feelings of all the characters as
it will give them greater depth and paint a
clearer picture of the world, so omnicient
seems the obvious choice.

On the other hand, if my narrator is


omnicient, I feel like they are obliged or
rather that readers would expect them to
divulge information which would solve the
mysteries for them ahead of time, before the
characters would or could understand whats
truly at play. Otherwise, the narrator is either
nonomnicient or is being cagey with the
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reader, thus giving him a motive and


personality all his own and I dont want that.

I know its my story and I can write how I


choose, but you all know how these things go:
the story begins to take on a life of its own.

My gut feeling is to switch to a first person


narration only by my main character and only
briefly, when it best suits the advancement of
the story. Anyone else have suggestions?
REPLY

Stephanie Orges
June 29, 2015 at 8:35 pm

Switching between first and third


person can be tricky and confusing,
unless you have a specific instory
explanation for why it switches.

Maintaining mystery in third person


omniscient is tricky, but it can be
done without being annoying,
especially if you follow the show,
dont tell rule the narrator may
KNOW everything, but theyre not
just going to TELL us with a bunch of
exposition.

For instance, you can write a scene


focused on the killer, what hes
doing, and what hes thinking,
without saying his name or what he
looks like. Think of how they do it in
movies; you may see the killer
snipping letters out of newspapers
for his ransom note, but never see
his face until the end. You enjoy

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guessing his identity based on the


other clues you see, rather than
feeling like someone is intentionally
hiding something from you.
REPLY

Sarah Taylor
June 29, 2015 at 2:10 am

What about 2nd person?


REPLY

Stephanie Orges
June 29, 2015 at 8:21 pm

A few other people have mentioned


that. I didnt list it because its so rare
except in Choose Your Own
Adventure Books and especially
difficult to work with but perhaps I
should have!
REPLY

Robert Blanchett
August 12, 2015 at 7:21 pm

Wow Stephanie, this post certainly has legs:


almost four years later and people are still
commenting at length!

The idea of 10 narrators is a bit mindblowing.


I shall try to find Gilas story online.

You are right to say that 2nd person is difficult


to work with. I started a novel in which I
wanted to make the reader the killer, but I
gave it up as too contrived. Do you think,

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however, that the most successful use of the


unreliable narrator comes when the reader is
frequently directly addressed by the narrator?
REPLY

Stephanie Orges
August 17, 2015 at 7:09 pm

Not necessarily; I think the unreliable


narrator is more likely to be lying
about himself or other characters
than around the reader. It could work
well whether or not he refers to the
reader directly.
REPLY

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Billybob Smith
September 2, 2015 at 1:12 pm

this is was grait for my children


REPLY

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In The Cornfield

Maggie
November 13, 2015 at 3:08 pm

Is there a type or subtype where you write


from past to future or even future to past!
and at some point change tense? Or is that
the Unreliable Narrator one?
REPLY

Tina
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Tina
January 3, 2016 at 5:47 pm

Hi Guys,
I need help and lots of it. My first chapter
starts with a young adult gathering
information to write a book once she has all
her information the second chapter begins in
the 1800s with the protagonist. My question
is can I have the narrator be the young adult
in the first chapter without revealing who she
is? Meaning, can my narrator be totally
uninvolved with the other characters? Do I
have to tell the readers who my narrator is?
REPLY

Stephanie Orges
January 4, 2016 at 7:28 pm

Hi Tina,
Sounds interesting! My answers are
yes, yes, and no. You dont have to
reveal the narrator as a character at
all, if you dont want to. But it sounds
like you want her to be a character,
just not a character in the main story.
You can certainly keep her identity a
secret I think it would be cool to
reveal it later, perhaps along with a
little of her own story and why the
story shes telling about the 1800s
characters is relevant to her.
REPLY

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to Build Trust with Your Reader NY Book Editors

Lisa
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Lisa
February 2, 2016 at 12:26 pm

I am recounting a story about my dads


sailboat cruise with 3 other guys in 194850
based on conversations with him, letters,
pictures, and a ships log about 200 pages
now. I am toying with having the boat be the
narrator When they first find the boat, it is in
poor condition, but they fix her up and set off
down the coast. Over the next 2 years the
they encounter may obstacles while he guys
work to raise money, and learn how to repair
her and what changes need to be made to
make her faster etc
REPLY

Stephanie Orges
February 8, 2016 at 8:02 pm

The boat as narrator is a fascinating


idea, but it would be tricky, and
might strike too whimsical a tone for
a true story. Considering all the
supporting materials you have for
the book, Id go for a more personal
note. First person from your own
perspective. Sort of halfscrapbook,
halfmemoir, with quotes from your
father as well as your own personal
thoughts about the story and why
you want to tell it. How does the
story exemplify your dad as you
know him? How did it change your
perspective of your father? How does
your fathers life mirror the story of
the boat trip or how does YOUR life
mirror the story?

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I get the sense youve got something


really special here, and my best
advice is to be as raw and real as you
can. Look up chapter 12 in William
Zinssers On Writing Well; he has
some great advice on letting go and
giving yourself permission to write
about yourself.
REPLY

Matthew Nace
March 24, 2016 at 5:03 pm

I am not sure if this is ever noted or discussed


in literary circles, but I have observed that
there is a fuzzy kind of category of third
person narrator somewhere between
omniscient and the usual sense of limited, and
I would love to know if there is a standard
name or discussion of it.
What I noticed is that a third person
omniscient narrator is supposed to know
everything that is happening on all sides AND
everything that all the characters are thinking.
However, although many perhaps most third
person omniscient narrators will frequently
shift from place to place, showing what is
happening to different characters, and what
different characters are thinking, they will
typically limit themselves to the thoughts of a
single character at a time they will not
typically shift from head to head in a single
scene.
As I said, I think this may actually be the more
common case, because I did not even become
aware of the distinction until I encountered a
book in which the narrator did provide
insights into the thoughts of several
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characters in rapid succession, which I found


to be rather disorienting.
Perhaps someone could let me know if a term
already exists for this? If not, may I suggest
third person flexible indicating a partially
limited narrator whose limited viewpoint
periodically shifts?
REPLY

Stephanie Orges
March 28, 2016 at 7:50 pm

I havent heard a term to


differentiate the two; Id consider
them different styles of the same
narrator type. But very few writers
use the method you describe one
that shows thoughts of various
characters in quick succession for
the exact reason you mention; its
disorienting. It can be hard to tell
who is thinking what. The only time
Ive seen it done well is in comedic
TV when you hear the characters
thoughts in echoy voiceovers. The
voices and camera angles
differentiate them there.
REPLY

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Narration Little Siberia

Danielis
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September 20, 2016 at 2:37 pm

This website is so good for kids who doesnt


know what does a narrative need to include
REPLY

Shawn Davis
November 2, 2016 at 1:35 pm

Thanks for the info it was great for 1 of my


classes
REPLY

Shawn Davis
November 2, 2016 at 1:37 pm

Thanks for the info it was great for 1 of my


classes and its was great with my teacher
helping me find this

REPLY

Ivetta "Sam"
January 17, 2017 at 7:27 pm

Haha, i thought my story was fated to be


doomed because i used a weird narrator! In a
story im working at i have a narrator that is
not part of the story, but it has opinions.
Opinions such as Im gonna quote now
Theres also an empty fridge. Why is it even
there? You ask, for the aesthetic. This room is
pretty boring. White walls, a pimple looking
ceiling light, and wooden floors that are
probably not even real wood. This narrator
talks like its a real person, but its not, its just
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like a little, invisible, floating head that follows


the main character like a third person
omniscient, but with a personality. Im not
sure if thats ok in fiction, but i wanna keep it
that way
REPLY

Stephanie Orges
January 23, 2017 at 5:52 pm

Thats totally OK in fiction! In fact, its


encouraged. What youre describing
is voice. Be sure to check out some
of the articles on this blog about
that. :
REPLY

Bella
February 2, 2017 at 12:51 pm

I like this website


REPLY

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