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Resource: Reading Fiction

Narrators

Point of view: 

An author creates a person to tell the story, and this person is the narrator.

The narrator delivers the point of view of the story. 

Multiple narrators of the story can also present multiple points of view.

  • A first person narrator
    uses the pronoun "I" to tell the story, and can be either a major or minor character.

    It may be easier for a reader to relate to a story told in a first person account.

  • A second person narrator

    uses the pronoun "you" and is not used very often since it makes the reader a participant in the story (and you, as reader, may be reluctant to be in the action!).

  • A third person narrator

    uses the pronoun "he" or "she" and does not take part in the story.

 

Narrator’s biases & assumptions:
  • A subjective narrator is generally unreliable because he/she is in the story, and can only speak to his/her experience within it.

  • An objective narrator is an observer and describes or interprets thoughts, feelings, motivations, of the characters. Details such as setting, scenes, and what was said is stronger with an objective observer

  • An omniscient (omniscient = all knowing) narrator has access to all the actions and thoughts within fiction

  • A limited narrator has a restricted view of events, and doesn't "know" the whole story

 

Questions to ask about the narrator:
  • How much does the narrator know?

    Does he or she know everything, including the thoughts, feelings, motivations, etc. or present just limited information? Do you (the reader) know more?

  • Time?
    Do events take place "now" (verbs in the present tense) or in the past (verbs are in the past tense)?

    Are past recollections fresh, or distant, and maybe hazy?

  • Is the narrator a participant in, or a witness to, the action?

    Is the story second-hand, related "as told to" the narrator?

    Think of yourself telling someone something that happened: How much of the event do you know, and how does that affect the story?

  • Why is the story being told, and why now?

    What is the motivation?

 

Character Types in Fiction

Characters are either the people of a story or the opposing forces.
  • A protagonist or hero/heroine is the central character of the story. An antagonist is the counterpart to the protagonist.

  • Tension between the protagonist and antagonist creates the story.

  • Speech, thoughts, actions, appearance, desires, and relationships reveal characters, and each undergoes development and/or change as the story unfolds. 

  • Static characters are role players, and may not “develop.” 

 

Questions to ask about the characters: 
  • How do characters speak?  How does it affect the dialogue?

  • What effect has the social class of the characters?

  • Can the protagonist and antagonist be the same person?

  • Can events or situations act as an antagonist?

  

Environment

Environment consists of the time, place, and mood of a story.
  • How does the setting affect the story?

  • Are the situations happy, unhappy, mysterious, joyful, what? 

  • How is emotion created through the setting?

  • Could you change the emotion of a story by altering the setting?

  • Where does the story take place: in nature, in a city, within a room?

  • How does location affect the story?

  • Is the location or environment symbolic?

  • Is the location or setting reminiscent of a mythological or folkloric space or story?

 

Last Updated: 11/04/2016
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  • Grossmont
  • Cuyamaca
A Member of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District