Trusting Your Narrator

When you become serious with fiction writing, you begin to understand that there is a difference between you and your narrator, even in stories that you consider autobiographical. The writer just becomes the facilitator of what's told, but how its told may be completely dependent on the narrative POV you have selected. It is very important to let this narrator have an independent voice.

I am reading Orhan Pamuk's The Museum of Innocence, whose narrator shocked me by "abandoning" the story and telling the reader that Orhan Pamuk himself will finish the story, and as you read along, you can see that the author agreed to do so. Here is a narrator so self-aware and independent that he knows his limits, knows where he can stop and authorize or trust the author to finish telling the story.

Lately, I have been writing stories told by female narrators and this has become an example of writing what I don't know, to open new possibilities, and I have found myself worrying about whether or not my POV was accurate. I am satisfied by what the characters have turned out to be, especially where I have allowed them to be themselves.

In instances like these, the role of the writer becomes that of recording what the narrator is saying. Trusting our narrators then is very important if our stories are going to be authentic.


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