1. zoshu

    zoshu New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2017
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Burbank

    The Narrator and The Killer in one - how to put it together?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by zoshu, Nov 14, 2017.

    Hello!

    I'm new here and I'm so happy I found this forum. I already see it's gonna be very helpful in my future. I have the question.
    How should I created the plot so that my narrative character or main character was in the same time killer that no one knows about. I want the character to work by themselves, but in the same time how to do it? How do to it so the readers wouldn't know from the beginning?

    Put blackouts in my character's life? In the same time in the plot the character is gonna talk about the killer to. Do you have any ideas?

    I would be grateful for any tips. Thank you!
    zoshu
     
  2. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2016
    Messages:
    1,044
    Likes Received:
    890
    Location:
    Chicago, IL.
    Does the character know that he is the killer?

    If so, this is a bad idea as the reader will feel as if they've been lied to.
     
  3. Edtheroach

    Edtheroach New Member

    Joined:
    Wednesday
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Texas
    I think this would be a difficult challenge to write, but it is possible. If the main character knows he is the killer and you are writing from either first person or third person limited, then you can treat the reader the way the killer would treat everyone around him - protecting the truth at all costs. This would be easier to do from first person. You would have to keep certain events away from the reader. If the character kills someone, you would need to cut out that scene or have him read about it in the paper and he could be visualizing it. You could try putting it in the perspective of a detective who can imagine himself as the killer - the way the show Hannibal does. Also, take a look at the anime Death Note. There could be some good inspiration for you there when thinking about how a killer keeps his secrets and the length he will go to in order to protect them.
     
    Simpson17866 likes this.
  4. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2015
    Messages:
    1,171
    Likes Received:
    897
    You would need to structure the whole book around creating a way that would ensure the reader doesn't feel lied to.

    I would suggest a framing device or some sort; flash backs etc (think like in The Usual Suspects) where the character in question is telling his story to the police or someone else and would deliberately be lying to them. That would at least allow you to have the conceit that he's lying to them not to the reader. That will at least give you something to work with.

    If you want to do it in first person then I'd have the character acknowledge the reader. Have them come clean to the reader, or nod and wink, or even be adversarial to the reader about it. Have the character start out subtly lying, then we see he is lying, then he starts hanging a lantern on his lies, then finally he just blatantly tells the reader that he did it and no-one will catch him, or gets more "What? You thought I was innocent?". Just something so that it's not just a gimmick. Just work around the concept and make that a core part of the book that builds up to this big reveal as the guy we've been reading finally is seen as a maniac. I'd really like to see that actually; slowly developing him from a sympathetic guy who's falsely accused into a monster who's enjoying lying to you.
     
  5. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2016
    Messages:
    229
    Likes Received:
    122
    Location:
    UK
    Few people have done it better than Agatha Christie. In
    The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, the narrator, assisting the investigation, is the murderer
    so my first step would be to read that in order to find out how you do it. I don't think the narrator has blackouts per se, rather they just don't account for all of their movements, which works well because no character accounts for all of their movements. And they give us very subtle clues -- like it took them this long to get somewhere, even though later on it the book it's mentioned that it only takes this long for a person to get to that place...
     
  6. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2015
    Messages:
    1,171
    Likes Received:
    897
    I personally think you can't get away with that these days. I think an unreliable narrator needs to be overtly unreliable throughout, and to me it reads as being very smug and unsatisfying when the character never said anything untrue but also totally left out a massively important part of the plot. It breaks the covenant with the reader IMHO. First person is supposed to be the thoughts of the character at the time; when their internal monologue is manipulated by the author to no longer be naturalistic it's crossing the line into cheating the reader. Why is the narrator saying deliberately misleading things to themselves in their own head? If it's just to mislead a reader they don't otherwise acknowledge I think that's cheap and gimmicky.
     
  7. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2016
    Messages:
    229
    Likes Received:
    122
    Location:
    UK
    The narrator doesn't deliberately mislead things to themselves in their own head.
     
  8. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2015
    Messages:
    1,171
    Likes Received:
    897
    He just goes the whole book following around the investigation into a murder he committed without thinking "Oh shit the worlds greatest detective is investigating me...". What person does that? What person just coincidentally never thought to themselves about the murder they committed while they are pretending to investigate it? And, exactly as I said, to say that he never lies to the reader is smug and self-satisfied of an author; to say that technically your narrator did nothing wrong so obviously it's a satisfying twist. Well that doesn't matter if the reader flings your book at the wall shouting "Oh fuck you" when the twist appears.

    And this is very much what I mean that you can't get away with this stuff anymore. People are really genre savvy now. They have already seen this done, seen a book or a movie or a story where the narrator turns out to be the murderer. They know that the narrator is very much in bounds as a suspect. It's not some shocking revelation any more. It's not something where simply by doing it you will blow a reader away. Today they are definitely going to take it in stride and ask themselves if they were even supposed to be able to see that coming.

    This isn't even a thing about unreliable narrators per se; it's about story construction. It's about foreshadowing and set-up. How many stories have you read or movies have you watched where the first time you watched it the twist seemingly came from nowhere? How good does that feel to you as an audience member? Do you feel any better about the story if, on closer inspection, you can just about maybe see the clues hinting at the plot but which you didn't notice until you already knew the twist? Do we think that's a good way to write? No, if we were betareading a book where that happened we'd tell the author that they need to set this up better because no matter how good that twist is in theory if you didn't give them an opportunity to see it coming then you've failed in delivering it.

    A clever twist is not one that absolutely no-one can see coming. If we never see it coming then it's deus ex machina. And that's exactly what it is when your narrator just magically didn't happen to think about that murder he committed while investigating that murder. It does not hold water for a second that a real person would think like that. Simply by writing his narration that way the author is acknowledging the reader and breaking the fourth wall in a book that otherwise has no hint of that. If you want to do that then it's fine to do that but you need to do that for real; you need to be overt that the narrator is addressing the reader directly and is forming a relationship with them. And you know the best thing? If you do that then it's ok to directly lie to the reader. It's ok to leave details out, it's ok because the narrator has a reason to do that that's immediately clear. The narrator has something to hide and the reader will enjoy trying to figure out what that is right up until you hit them in the face with the fact that this character they like and know is the killer. They knew he had something to hide; they never thought it was that, and bam that's a huge reveal. A twist well executed.
     
  9. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2016
    Messages:
    229
    Likes Received:
    122
    Location:
    UK
    I still think it would be beneficial for @zoshu to read it. zoshu, it will be good for you to see who has gone before you, both with this book and the TV shows that have been mentioned. You don't have to copy all or any of the techniques. But it would be a very good place to start and help you decide how you would like to do this. It's like reading mysteries before you write them vs reading no mysteries at all before you write one. :)
     

Share This Page