Sunday, October 24, 2010

Narrator's Voice (Note to self: this is important)

I recently finished the first draft of one story and picked up writing a story I had abandoned a while ago. Marathon Nightmare is a mystery story told in the third person with a narrator who only knows the internal thoughts of the main character, not the other characters. The narrator does not know any more than the protagonist knows. The main character has a bit of an attitude and she speaks in a professional way, occasionally interspersed with temperamental outbursts laced with expletives.  The narrator doesn't use expletives but the narrator's voice kind of mirrors what would be the tone and vocabulary that the protagonist would use if she were telling the story in the first person.

The story I switched to is a story within a story. The part I'm working on now is a Journal that the buyer of a house finds among the papers of the recently deceased former owner.  The author of the Journal is a female who kept a journal from the age of about 10 to her late 70's.  She is completely self-educated. She may be insane. She is definitely a genius. The vocabulary and style of the Journal changes over time as the character grows up and becomes more educated.

I was moved to write this post  for myself as a reminder of how amazing it was that somehow I switched so quickly and smoothly from one type of narrator voice to a completely different one, using different vocabulary and different verbal cadence and rhythm. I didn't even notice that I did it until after I was well into the new novel.

In my review of Bloodroot I commented about what a great job Greene did telling the story through several different narrators with vastly different educational backgrounds and ages.  In Kisses & Lies  I played around with perspective and point of view by narrating the story by four different characters.  They are all generally the same level of education, but two are women and two are men.  I'm going to need to go back and look at it again to see if I managed to change up the Narrator's Voice when I switched POV.

This is an issue I've never thought a lot about.  Starting now, I am going to pay more attention to my narrators. They are much more important than I ever realized.

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