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Notes, tutorials, exercises, thoughts, workshops and resources about writing or storytelling art

Types of Narrators (6): The First-Person Narrator

In this part of the tutorial about the types of narrators, I’ll analyze the first-person narrator which is the one widely used in contemporary literature. What distinguishes him from the witness narrator, who also resorts to the first person, is the fact that this narrator is the protagonist talking about himself (or herself) and his circumstances. There are quite a lot of first-person novels. Paul Auster’s Moon Palace and Oracle Night, J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, or Philippe Claudel’s Brodeck’s Report are well-known examples.

first person narrator

In addition, the first-person narrator is often used in crime fiction. This is the case of in the novels written by Jeff Lindsay about the serial killer Dexter. Nevertheless, we can also find this type of narrator in the epistolary genre, personal diaries, biographies, internal monologues, etc. Regardless of the literary genre, here are some general features that can help us determine if the first-person narrator fits our story:

Types of Narrators (5): The Second-Person Narrator

TThe second-person narrator, though not very common, is present in literature and media. For example, the posts I publish online are directed at my readers. This is why I resort to the second-person narrator.

Types of Narrator

This type of narrator is also typical of the epistolary form; in fact, many novels contain letters or emails the characters send to each other. Nevertheless, the addressee of the second-person narrations I want to analyze in this section are not characters, but the readers themselves.

For instance, in Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, the second-person narrator acts as the master in a role-playing game attempting to get the reader to identify with the main character. A much more recent example is Paul Auster’s Winter Journal. This fictionalized autobiography is written in the second person as a way of putting the reader in the writer’s shoes. Through this technique, the author wants to show the emotions and experiences he has gathered throughout his life could be those of any other person in the world. The opening line of the book is a clear declaration of intent:

Types of narrator: The Witness Narrator

In the first page of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, the narrator makes a declaration of intent: “I prepare to leave on this parchment my testimony as to the wondrous and terrible events that I happened to observe in my youth, now repeating all that I saw and heard, without venturing to seek a design, as if to leave to those who will come after (if the Antichrist has not come first) signs of signs, so that the prayer of deciphering may be exercised on them.”

el espía

You just read the words of a witness narrator which is a role played by a character who tells the story in the third person (he isn’t the protagonist) and has the point of view of someone who has witnessed it either from the inside or from the outside. This type of narrator doesn’t usually write about himself or herself.

There are many different types of witness narrators, each with his distinctive features. Here are the most common ones:

Types of Narrators: Third-Person Subjective Narrator

This type of narrator may be confused with the omniscient narrator, but the difference between them is the third-person subjective narrator adopts the point of view of one of the characters of the story.


Thus, his or her vision is limited. He’ll have insight into what a character is thinking or feeling, but he will only have a superficial knowledge of the other characters. Nevertheless, the third-person subjective narrator will always be wiser than a first-person narrator as he can describe his chosen hero from both inside and outside perspectives.

Types of Narrators:The Omniscient Narrator

In this second post of the series, you’ll learn more about the all-knowing and all-seeing omniscient narrator who conveys the facts from a third-person point of view and doesn’t take part in the story.

As the name suggests, this god-like narrator knows everything about the characters and the plot. In addition, he or she is able to predict the future and make assumptions and judgments. The use of this omniscient point of view was very common in nineteenth-century novels.

Let’s take a careful look at the omniscient narrator’s features:

Types of Narrators: Point of View in Fiction Writing

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 to Use Dialogue Tags Properly

Since dialogue belongs to the characters, the narrator’s remarks can sometimes spoil it. However, they become necessary in a long conversation or in a dialogue with many members. If you want to know how to use them, here is a list of helpful tricks:

how to write dialogue

1. Brevity is the soul of wit.

As readers, we all are used to expressions such as “said John,” “asked Mary,” or “replied Sue,” but they should be used carefully because they slow down the reading pace. The same goes for adverbs or unnecessary explanations. As an example, look at this dialogue: