Is your narrator looking back on the story with the benefit of perspective? Or is the narrator moving through time along with the events of the story? In this video, we look at all of the places a narrator can be standing (and the advantages and drawbacks to each) so that you can make an informed and intentional decision for the best possible version of your novel. 

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Stephanie (00:06):
Hello writers. Have you ever woken up from a deep sleep and had no idea what time it was, or even what day it was? It’s so disorienting, right? And it takes a few minutes of focused thinking to sort it out. What we are going to talk about today is going to help keep your reader from having that same experience while reading your book. Now, obviously, you can give them clues or tell them straight out what day or time it is if you need to, but there’s a larger question that we need to ask. Where is your narrator standing in time? Two pieces of good news here. The first is that there’s no right answer. The second is that you have choices. But before we dive into those, I’d like to invite you to take the Novel Foundations Quiz. Knowing where your narrator is is just one small piece of a much larger puzzle

Stephanie (00:58):
when you’re first putting your story on the page. To make your first draft the best it can be, you’ll want to take this quiz. Not only will you get your best next step, you’ll also receive a customized toolkit of resources to help you along the way. So click that link in the description and take the quiz today. Alright, so let’s jump into your choices for where the narrator is standing in time. Here’s a timeline of your story from the beginning to the end. Now, you can have your narrator standing at the beginning, moving through the story along with the characters. A benefit of doing this is that it creates perhaps a touch more urgency. A drawback of this is that the narrator can have no knowledge at all of anything that’s to come in the future. Another option is to have the narrator positioned beyond the end of the story.

Stephanie (01:51):
It could be two days after the final scene or years after. Now, a nice thing about this is that the narrator can have the value of perspective that comes from being removed from the events. A potential drawback is, again, it’s a smidge less – there’s a smidge less urgency in the narrative, although that can totally be established in other ways. A third option is to have your narrator planted somewhere in the middle. In this case, they would be thinking back over the first part of the story, but when the narrative catches up to them, then they would be moving along with the story in the same way as if they’d started from the beginning. This is less commonly used, for sure. You can see how it would be problematic to have your narrator bouncing around, right? This is a small thing, but it can have big consequences for your narrative.

Stephanie (02:41):
As I’ve said before, there is no right way to write a novel, so there’s no right decision to be made here. What matters is that we make the decision, because if we’re not intentional with our narrator, our narrator can accidentally jump around in time, which can be definitely disorienting for the reader. And we most certainly do not want disoriented readers, am I right? If you like what you heard here today, be sure to subscribe so that each new video will be at your fingertips. And if you know someone who might enjoy this content, please share. Thanks. I’ll see you next time. Happy writing.