The “once-upon-a-time” stories of your childhood already taught you that in order to tell a story, you need a narrator who transmits it to the reader. Every text (even articles or reports) has a narrator. That is, they’re told from a specific point of view with a particular approach and a distinct tone.
Thanks to the narrator, you can describe characters and settings, convey emotions, insert dialogues, express opinions, and ration information to create suspense or intrigue.
How does the narrator ration information?
1. Information can be rationed by choosing what is said and what is not said because it’s not necessary or because it’s left to the reader’s imagination.
2. Narrators can ration information by selecting when and how the information is displayed. Doing so little by little builds suspense.
3. Ration information by anticipating events as seen in this example: “Peter heard the doorbell ring and went to answer it. He couldn’t imagine then that the person behind the door was going to change his life.”
The Different Types of Narrators
1. Third-person view, omniscient narrator – This is the all-knowing, all-seeing narrator type.
2. Third-person view, subjective narrator – This narrator type conveys the thoughts, feelings, or opinions of one or more characters.
3. Third-person view, objective narrator – This type of narrator gives an unbiased point of view in order to achieve neutrality. It’s typical of journalistic texts.
4. First-person view (witness character) – The narrator is a character who isn’t necessarily involved in the story but provides his or her point of view.
5. First-person view (protagonist) – The main character is also the narrator and tells the story from his or her point of view.
6. Second-person view – This narrator refers to the reader as “you” as if he or she was a character within the story. It’s the rarest mode of narration in literature.
How do you choose the right narrator for your story?
To be honest, there’s not a single or right answer to this question. The most important thing is to know what you want to tell, how you want to tell it, and the feelings you want to transmit to your readers. With this information in mind, you’ll almost intuitively know which type of narrator you must use.
In the next posts, I’ll analyze the different types of narrators along with their pros and cons.