Thursday, May 21, 2009

Loving the Unreliable Narrator

"The way it looks is not the way it is," says Keir Sarafian, main character of the amazing Inexcusable.

In this National Book Award Finalist, author Chris Lynch has mastered the line between truth and perception, leading the reader to draw certain conclusions from events that aren't quite represented fairly.

Curtis Sittenfeld does the same in Prep; everything Lee Fiora sees and thinks and says and does, we believe to be right. Even if it isn't.

Plotting this is tricky.

Believe me.

I'm trying to do it.

An editor has explained the narrative triangle to me: the way the character sees himself, the way other characters see him, and the way the reader sees him.

What's challenging is crafting an unreliable character who is also likable, relatable, and believable. What he says is not the way things really are, and although that's the only truth we have, we have to love him.

What do you think? Do you have any other examples of other unreliable narrators? Do you have any tips on creating one?

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