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Sources of Inspiration: Unreliable Narration

I can understand of someone who appears to be an average person as the narrator; like Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, or Tim Hunter. We readers and viewers are introduced to their universes right along with them. They ask a lot of the questions we have.

Only none of these narrators were average, not really. Luke Skywalker was strong in the Force, connected by blood to some of its most powerful practioners. Harry Potter was the Boy Who Lived, marked from infancy by a powerful Dark Wizard. Tim Hunter had a special destiny, which led to him being stalked and recruited by some of the most power practioners of the occult.

It makes me wonder if there really is such a thing an average narrator, if anyone is truly average.

More and more, I’m finding myself drawn to a very different sort of protagonist, the unreliable narrator.

Unreliable narrators don’t even pretend to be average. We don’t just learn about the world they live in when we see it through their eyes, experience it through their senses. We get know them, how different their are. We become part of their unique inner landscapes as much as we do their settings.

It’s quite a journey, accompanying such a narrator on their story. I find myself experiencing their world in a way closer to theirs. After all, I’m not always reliable. I daydream, go off on trains of thought, leaving everyone behind. Sometimes I react to something in a way everyone does, but often I don’t. I’m probably somewhere between the average protagonist and the unreliable narrator in how I experience things. Finding where my own characters fit within the spectrum is part of my challenge as a writer.

What about you, dear reader? Do you prefer the everyday protagonist or the unreliable narrator? What sort of narration do you use?


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