The Unreliable Narrator – it’s been playing on my mind


Well actually that’s not strictly true, but I have spent quite a lot of time wondering about it. Does the author deliberately set out to lie, mislead, or be economical with the truth, or does she/he get caught up in the story and forget what they have written a few chapters earlier?

When I read a book, I usually always trust what I am reading. I don’t think I am alone in this, and one of the most important things we have to learn in life, is to be able to work out the truthfulness of what we are being told, either by voice or in print or even face to face.

After all, we do this all the time in our everyday lives; when we go shopping for a new gadget, meet someone new or watch the news on television. We are constantly assessing the information we are receiving and working out whether what we are being told is true. So how easily do we recognise the unreliable narrator when we come across one? Do we read and then question every act, dissect every paragraph, constantly review what has gone before?

I have written several short stories; not really sure what I will do with them, probably re-line the drawers in the chest in the spare room.  Sometimes it has been a memoir, sometimes I have made up the whole story, after overhearing a comment whilst waiting in a shop or on the train, but I have always been truthful. It has never occurred to me to be otherwise.

I have enjoyed writing them, but have to admit to sometimes losing my way with the plot.  At this stage perhaps I should have thrown in a few red herrings and gone off in a different direction, but how would I then have brought all the loose ends together?

I am not a good enough writer yet to do something like this, but then again, how do you know what I have told you so far is true?

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Written for the Daily Post writing assignment –http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_assignment/writing-101-day-one/

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7 thoughts on “The Unreliable Narrator – it’s been playing on my mind

  1. My first Manuscript is in printed form and holds the laundry room door open. Keep writing and line those drawers. There will come a time when you’ll actually shove your stuff under someone’s nose and say “Read it.” That’s when you know you are good enough.

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  2. From one unreliable narrator to another, I say go for it — many people will miss the point, or be confused, or else assume it’s either all true or all lies, but as I always say — the story’s the thing. Never mind the writer — get out of your own way and tell the story. Pay no attention to the woman behind the curtain.
    Good luck, Dee.

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