The Narrative Voice

What Is Narrative Voice in Literature?
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Employing Narrative Voice

We see the world and the action often through the eyes of the protagonists of each of these stories, but in each case we have a narrator who has a wider knowledge of the story and the world to help us the reader make sense of what the characters might not understand yet. Some writers use first person, present tense to convey urgency and being in the moment to the reader.

Conventional storytelling leans heavily on third person past tense. Does this mean that the reader feels like the story is taking place in the past when they read it? Not always.

The 3 Narrative Voices: What are they? How do you tell them apart?

The magic of storytelling is transporting your reader into the moment with your character. This happens in spite of the verb tense, often. I am pretty squeamish when it comes to reading or especially watching scary stories. But I was able to read and enjoy World War Z for one very important reason: The narratives were all obviously being told by characters who had survived. If your readers need particular information to understand a scene, but the character learns it only after they survive the scene, and you want to keep that element of suspense, you may need to consider this next question.

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This last question relates very closely to the first one. Omniscient narrators are best when they can be neutral, helping the reader connect details in the story to particular characters but not trying to influence the reader overly much.

The Narrative Voice in Araby, Livvie and The Yellow Wallpaper

Remember that each character has their own agenda and personality. Orson Scott Card took this to the extreme in his Ender series. I don't want to give up my narrator, but I do want to tell the story in the best way possible. So my friend Madeleine asked me a couple key questions:.

Nick Offerman: A lone gunslinger enters a saloon. But the narrator is bloodthirsty. - The Gunfighter

I'll admit, I don't have any answers yet. But it's something I'm working through right now.

Narrative Voice as the “It” Factor in Your Writing

I want my narrator to serve the story, not distract my readers. The narrator is the reader's first point of contact with a story.

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They lead the reader through the fictional tale, acting as a sherpa if you will. Again even if you have no narrator, there is this invisible character — your narrative voice — who is handling the disposition of scene description and all the rest as noted above , and they have their own voice.

An easy way to get a sense of this is to read the first 10 pages of several scripts by different writers in different genres.

Which Narrative Voice to Use

You will see the styles all differ from one another, a reflection of their distinctive narrative voices. You can get a taste of that in my series Scene Description Spotlight. A few examples:.

The Matrix. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. So the next time you sit down to start writing a script, think about Mattie Ross, how singular her narrative voice is. Comment Archive.

Identifying Narrative Voice

Is it common for writers to notice their style differs from the first draft to later edits? Focalisation does not have to stay the same throughout a narrative. It should be noted that this narrator does not enter the mind of the kid, like other narrators. Wherever you spot a weakening, can you strengthen it? Amused, angry, detached, passionately positive, hyperactive, grumpy, naive, focussed, weary, passionately negative, empathic, gentle Yes, I have to know who my character is, but I find her voice by making intellectual choices, and then actually writing a scene in that voice.