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Your Favorite Types of 1st-Person Narrators

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Wed Mar 29, 2017 4:36 pm
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PrincessInk says...

POVs in first person can be widely varied.

Some can be sarcastic and kick-butt; some are witty; some are quiet and observant; some are like sages (maybe); some don't tell you much--they're many kinds and that's some of the reasons I like first-person novels and stories too.

I recently read a book called The False Prince, Jennifer A. Nielson, and this was the time I encountered an unreliable narrator. An unreliable narrator is someone who doesn't tell you what completely what's going on in his mind (please don't mind me using "his" this time because the MC of the book mentioned above is a he). I found it really fascinating that such narrators did exist.

And same thing for the Odyssey. When Odysseus recites his adventures to the king of Phaecia to try to gain the king's sympathy, we have no way to know if he's telling the truth or not--because that's the time we hear about his adventures too! Odysseus is one of the most famous liars in literature, so perhaps we have to listen to his fantastic tales with a grain of salt.

So anyway, that got me thinking to start this discussion. What types of narrators do you like? What kind of voices?
Last edited by PrincessInk on Wed Mar 29, 2017 7:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Wed Mar 29, 2017 6:52 pm
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ChildOfNowhere says...

I love unreliable narrators. They're very interesting to write, in first POV as much as in any other, and can be very tricky to do. There's more to them than not telling the reader everything — and with that, there's a fine line between an unreliable narrator and an excuse for the writer who frustratingly withholds information — they're about making you think that you're told everything, and small clues that hint at some of the things being lies (or delusions, beliefs, etc.), and a bunch of other things.
(now I feel like doing a workshop on something on unreliable narrators, haha)

Some people argue that children are automatically unreliable narrators, too, especially if their story takes place in adult world (The Room by Emma Donoghue comes to mind as an example of what's meant by that). It's all just a really interesting thing to play with, IMO.

When I saw the thread title, I actually thought you were talking about omni narrators, or books in which a narrator's voice isn't that of one of the characters (like Series of Unfortunate Events, for example). [ETA: sneaky, but glad the title clears it up now!]
When it comes to first POV, though, aside from unreliable ones, I just love narrators who feel real.
Boring answer, I know, but true. I like reading a perspective of someone who obviously has strengths and weaknesses, and flaws and shortcomings and faults and virtues, but who doesn't identify them all as such.

To take as example Kvothe from The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss: he's aware of being better at things than others, he's aware of having a remarkable memory and some other strengths, and he knows how to use them to get what he wants — but he can also be arrogant, and kind, and sexist at times, reckless despite his quick wit and scheming nature, and so on. Some of those things are introduced openly as what they are, but others are left for the readers to read between the lines.

So, I suppose... I like 1st POV narrators whom I can get to know through their narrative, rather than having it all offered on a silver platter? Something like that. :mrgreen:
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