Who’s telling this story, anyway?

narrator point of view Jun 01, 2022

The question of where we writers end and our writing begins has been coming up a lot, lately. 

I talked about it a bit last week when discussing why our heroes might tend to be passive as we learn how to cut that fictional umbilical cord between the observing, interpretive stance of the writer and the active, transforming role of the fictional hero we’re writing about.

Another great question recently came in from a member of the Path of the Storyteller community, who wonders whether the narrator of our books is, fundamentally, us?

Today I’d like to talk about this fascinating and somewhat metaphysical topic: Who is the narrator of our books?

Is it us? Is it some nameless entity we invent? Does this entity always lurk there beneath whatever mask we place over it (a first person narrator, perhaps, or an intrusive narrator?), or is it a unique and temporary construction that we erect for each book? 

I love these kinds of questions. They strike at the heart of what it even means to write fiction, or to read it, for that matter.

It’s a deeply practical question, too, because we can’t write a single sentence without grappling with it. Who’s doing the telling when we tell a story to the reader? Let’s discuss!


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