1. MisterJ

    MisterJ New Member

    Jul 31, 2016
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    Unreliable narrators

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by MisterJ, Jul 31, 2016.

    Hi fellow writers
    Are Unreliable Narrators so called because of their tendency to be untruthful, in just what they say, or is it a combination of what they say, do and, think which defines them as UN?
  2. zoupskim

    zoupskim Contributor Contributor

    Jan 11, 2015
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    The presence of Y'golonac
    All of those are a possibilities.

    You can write a character who simply doesn't know important facts, or maybe they have naive view of the world, so what they say is unreliable. Other characters may be actively trying to deceive the reader.

    A doctor fights to cure a disease they don't understand. VS That same doctor refusing to acknowledge the cause of a disease.
  3. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

    Mar 21, 2012
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    Somebody such as me who tells it as it is.

    When people come asking for my advice, and with my military background, I say the enemy is like a woman, his position held high on the twin peaks - overlooks a valley.

    You don't want to be in that valley, boy. You need to plant your banner on the aforementioned hillside overlooking - occupy both hills if you at all possibly can. Then you might consider the valley penetration. I learned this truth in the marines. Seven years I flied air force helicopters over jungle - with my wings on. Jungle got me thinking, and why today - many years later, I am a psychologist dealing in male/female, male/male, female/male/male, female/female/female trans-reproduction and anatomy controversies.

    Consultancy is held in my kitchen, my coffee cup, my blender - session among friends. Self-qualified at the age of eighty-four, proud of fact. People call me 'a legend,' the healing hands and feet, not in the blender, real life doctor Schwarzkopf.

    Don't let me tell you that as gospel, you can just ask the folk.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2016
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  4. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Sep 6, 2014
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    I think the standard unreliable narrator isn't deliberately lying to the reader--he's actually lying to himself, and passing those lies along to the reader. So because the narrator truly believes the lies he's told himself, the lies will likely be reflected in all aspects of the character.
    Lifeline and matwoolf like this.
  5. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
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    Massachusetts, USA
    If there is such a thing as a standard unreliable narrator, it is the character trying to sell a particular point of view. Some facts are omitted, some are slanted in favor of the narrator, and some may be outright lies. But to be fair to the reader, and for the technique to be effective, the truth, or something very close to it, should emerge by the final page.

    One of my favorite examples of the unreliable narrator is Linda Barnes' "The Perfect Ghost."
  6. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

    Jul 7, 2016
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    This is a good point. I think most unreliable narrators come across as believing what they say. However, it should be quite easy for the reader to know when they are dealing with an unreliable narrator. You can do a lot with subtext to help it come through.

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