I had a strange night filled with symbol rich dreams leaving me feeling curiously energized.

Romantic is another word for self-expression, which is another word for using a distinctive voice. Few things are more important in writing than voice, in particular, the voice of the narrator. Even third-person omniscient narrators are characters and should have a distinctive voice. This is tricky business.

For this reason, I usually recommend that beginning fiction writers focus on writing in first person, because it is much easier to establish the voice of a first person narrator than it is to establish the voice of a god-like narrator.

On the other hand, few things are more limiting to a story than a first-person narrator. Any one person can only know a tiny fraction of the action that occurs during the process of a normal story. Even worse, there is absolutely no way the first person narrator can know the thoughts or motivations of the other characters. Even set in the distant future, relative to the action of the story, there are many stories that cannot be told by a first person narrator.

But having a limited number of stories that can be told is no disadvantage compared to the incredible dullness of listening to a third-person narrator who has no voice. Imagine the drone of a very poor documentary, produced for students, where the narrator does not understand the history and has no interest in making the tale interesting. If you can’t, let me know. I’ll point you to some of the most horrid documentaries ever made. And I’ll challenge you to stay awake.

The best way to establish the voice of a third-person narrator, along with giving that narrator a person, is to imagine the audience. The narrator is telling the story to someone. How does the narrator keep the story interesting to that person? Using voice.

This is all harder than it sounds. Use first person until you can’t stand it any more.

About David Cain

David Cain, literary author, bon vivant, rogue romantic poet - author of Witch, Song of Songs, Journals of Lord Malinov, Erotic Romances and others ...
This entry was posted in books, fiction, literature, personal, writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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