Writing Exercise: Unreliable Narrator

Photo by Andrey Metelev on Unsplash

I’ve talked a lot about Point of View (POV) characters, using cameras to help visualize the effects. Today is about the shaky camera – an unreliable narrator.

The main character doesn’t providing all the information, may be misinterpreting the information, or may be lying. Examples of why a POV character might do this include:  physical limitations, inability to see because of a blindfold; age with a child’s understanding; pride, not willing to share family secrets (with the unreliable vibes coming from avoiding topics like the door upstairs); mental limitations, such as bigotry preventing them from understanding others. The list is long.

The true challenge of writing unreliable narrators is providing enough clues to the reader so they question the narrator’s NARRATIVE but do not question the validity of the STORY.

Basically the author balances shaky and solid within the manuscript like a rope bridge. Your turn to try this.

WRITING EXERCISE: Write a scene (around 100 to 250 words) with an unreliable narrator.

My attempt

I wrote Half-Empty (1/8/2017) with Gwyn being an unreliable narrator in two ways. First, her self-image and connection to her actions is skewed after a poor upbringing and a series of gas-lighting relationships. Second, her understanding of her childhood friend has holes the size of elephants though she is unaware of them. But, both of these issues should come through clearly in the narrative.