Distrust the Narrator

Narrators are not always reliable. Nor should they be.

Enter the realm of the Unreliable Narrator.

I’ve encountered at least three (could be more could be less) types of Unreliable Narrator/POV Character:

1) The Lying Character: He or she is someone who knows what is going on, but chooses to lie (by omitting or skewing the information he gives the reader) either because their hiding something or toying with the audience.

2) The Unknowing Character:  The character doesn’t know everything due to his perspective been limited in some way. Third Person Close and First Person narratives tend to have this as a key feature. The character(s) can extrapolate from the information at hand but they are still limited by what information they have at any given moment.

3) The Opinionated Character:  Here the problem is one of attitude. The character view is obscured by their prejudices, past history or current expectations. She sees what she wants/expects to see which may only be part of reality and not the whole story. Key details may be ignored or skewed due to the personal failings/interpretation/quirks of the character, especially if that quirk is a form of dementia.

If the narrator is a character in the story then his reliability is in question. So, are your narrators trust worthy?

And now for some music:

3 comments on “Distrust the Narrator

  1. I love to write slightly unreliable narrators: I want my readers to see their mistakes barreling down the tracks at them. It’s fun. 🙂


  2. […] to the narrator. Since first person POV is highly subjective, it also leads to a higher level of unreliability on the narrator part, even if the narrator does lie or obfuscate on purpose.  And if he comes off […]


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