Saturday Writing Club, Week 1, Narrator
Post by Iris Carden
Each Saturday, I will give a few thoughts about writing, and a writing prompt.
If you want to take part, write your story in response to the prompt, and put the link to your story in the comments below. (Don’t have a space online to publish your story? *You can get a free WordPress site here.)
Initially, I plan to do this for six weeks. If the response is good, I’m happy to keep it going long-term.
Note: I use examples from my own books, so I don’t have to worry about copyright issues.
Writing Club Week 1 Narrator
Whenever you write any kind of story, one of the first questions you will need to answer is: “Who is telling the story?”
You have options, and the option you choose will help decide how you tell your story.
First Person (limited) Narrator: One of the characters is telling the story. The only point-of-view the reader is exposed to is that one character. The story is told in the first person: I saw, I did, I said…
Using a first person limited narrator allows for a degree of intimacy between reader and the storyteller. The reader is hearing from the person actually involved, and shares the experience with that person. The reader only ever knows what the character knows – there’s no conflicting voice.
I hear a tapping at my front window. A figure in a biohazard suit holds up my book. Dr Ted Beare calls a greeting and says he’ll leave the book and be back in a couple of hours. (from Hollywood Lied.)
Third Person (limited) Narrator: The story is told in a voice which is not a character. However, the story follows one specific character, and the reader only has the opportunity to know what is happening in relation to that one person.
Using a third person limited narrator gives a little distance between the character and the reader. Looking in on the character from the outside lets the reader follow that person’s story, but not feel quite as involved. It allows the narrator to keep back information from the reader – things happening outside the character’s view. However, the narrator can place judgements on the character’s actions.
Jilly left the room, and Sarah berated herself silently. Things might seem better in the morning – where had that come from? Not from her counselling degree, that was for sure. It sounded like something her mother used to say when she had nightmares. (from Group Meeting.)
Third Person (omniscient) Narrator: The voice telling the story is not a character in the story, and can see everything and everyone. The narrator will tell what is happening with one character, then jump to what is happening with a different character.
Lance sat at the table with a dozen or so of his closest friends. He actually didn’t like any of them, but it was called “networking”. Everyone would get together and pretend they did not detest each other, because each of these people could be of use at some time.
Arthur sat by a small fire in the dry creek-bed. This was his home, and always had been. It had been his father’s and grandfather’s home – going back long before there was a town around the creek – long before there were any people but his own. (from “Lance and Arthur”, short story in Patchwork.)
The third person omniscient narrator allows the narrator to tell the reader things that individual characters do not know. Readers think they are getting the whole story, because they are told what is happening to everyone. An omniscient narrator can, however, hold things back, keep things as a surprise or twist.
This Week’s Task
Write a short piece – being aware of your narrator, and why the type of narrator you chose helps to tell your story.
In the comments, give a link to your story, and say something about why you chose that narrator, and how that helps tell the story.
Need a place to publish your story so you can give a link? *You can get a free WordPress site here.
*Disclosure: If you use this link to create an account, I receive WordPress credit..
So I will start the ball rolling, in hopes others will follow suit (or this is going to be a lonely writing group. Here’s my story: https://iriscardenauthor.wordpress.com/2022/02/28/the-tunnel/ This story is about the protagonist’s utter confusion at her situation. Using the first person narrator limits the reader’s knowledge to what the protagonist knows. The reader only finds out what is actually going on when the protagonist does.