A fun creative writing blog that helps authors by providing amazing writing tips.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Find the right narrative voice in less than 10 minutes

Become a detective to find the right narrative voice
Narrative voice can be one of the most challenging aspects of story telling for many writers. Hey, if it wasn't then there wouldn't be so many books out there about this wonderful subject. I know I said I would tell you how to better grasp narrative voice in less than 10 minutes, but what the title should really say is "find the right narrative voice in however long it takes you to read this article." The latter does sound catchier, right?

You know what, this blog post has narrative voice. It is a stream of consciousness voice. I, emphasis on I, am giving a first person perspective of my thoughts, feelings and emotions about creative writing. When I talk about other "characters" which means you, I don't express your thoughts or desires. I give general statements of what you might want or what you may be thinking based on my own desires and thoughts. Hey, I may even begin to monologue. Wait, did I do that in the first paragraph?

The purpose of using narrative voice in my blog post is to engage with my audience. Because like I had, other writers have even published books about narrative voice, so others have already said plenty about this subject. It is narrative voice that makes this article unique to readers and therefore engaging. It doesn't always have to be what you say, but how you say it that captures audiences. 

When you think about the most popular books out there. When you think about your favorite stories and you think about their outlines. What  they are about has usually been done to death. But, the thing that keeps you reading is the way the author presents the story. Narrative voice is a major piece of story presentation that has the power to captivate audiences even when a story is not unique at all. 

Since movies are more popular than books, let me give you a movie reference. Sin City. Yes, I know it was a graphic novel first, but have you read it? Okay, so with Sin City my favorite story is Marv's story, who uses character voice narration. When you think about Marv's tale, it is just another detective story about a man trying to solve the mystery of who killed the pretty dame. Dame? Yep, I went there and it looks like 1940. Anyway, what makes the story unique is how Marv describes his motives, his thoughts, his actions and the world around him. You can argue that the reason Marv's overdone tale is so engaging, is because Marv is an interesting character and because the right narrative voice is used to describe who he is to the audience. I would agree with you. 

When you have great characters, I would stay away from unreliable voice or even a third person omniscient narration. You should choose a narrative voice that exposes everything about your awesome characters. If you have a story where the events are better than the actual characters in them, for instance your story is an Indiana Jones style story where the events are more captivating than the characters, then use third person omniscient so more focus can be placed on the setting, events and how the different characters react to them. 

Really there is no right or wrong, only recommendations. If you are creative enough you can tell a great story World War Z style, which is epistolary narrative voice, by using documents, interviews or letters to expose the plot. But remember the importance of how you want to expose your characters, world and plot to your audience. I recommend to think of which is more engaging and choose the best narrative voice that will help you expose it to your readers. 

Finding the right narrative voice doesn't take long if you understand the strongest parts of your story, the different narrative voices and that matching the right narrative voice to maximize exposure of the strongest parts of your story creates more opportunity for readers to become engaged with your story. 


  1. You're right - the narrator's voice is the main character of the book!

  2. Fun fact: the letters "comic" appeared in my text box. haha