The narrative mode encompasses not only who tells the story, but also how the story is described or expressed.
And isn’t that statement the honest truth? Choosing the right viewpoint as an author is a chance to tell a story with added depth and nuance.
The first-person narrator is always a character within his/her own story (whether the protagonist or not). This viewpoint character takes actions, makes judgments and expresses opinions, thereby not always allowing the audience to be able to comprehend some of the other characters’ thoughts, feelings, or perceptions as much as the narrator’s own. We become aware of the events and characters of story through the narrator’s views and knowledge.***
I like writing in the first person. It allows me to immerse myself in the character – I can talk aloud and listen to how he speaks – face an event and consider how he’d react. It’s a kind of method acting, albeit it gets me strange looks from the rest of the family! But I hope it gives a richer experience for the reader. They can enter into a relationship or an adventure as if they’re the character, rather than an observer of other people interacting.
I also find it more rewarding to write deep emotions, the joy, angst, anger, love, pain. Sex, too LOL. Nothing better than expressing the character’s excitement in “watching” his partner’s reactions!
And so this is how FREEMAN was written. Freeman, the character, is articulate and intelligent. He’s perceptive, he follows the action closely. He’s brutally honest in what he tells us about himself – albeit this has been internally censored.
But there are disadvantages of the first person, and not just the fact that if the reader takes against your MC’s narrative voice, you’re doomed for the whole book! If anything happens outside your character’s physical view, or you want to develop a secondary relationship, or you want to express what another character is thinking, or you want some backstory that your MC wasn’t directly involved in – well, hard luck!
It’s a two-edged sword. But for this kind of mystery book, I felt the first person point of view fitted. The mystery is both external and also within Freeman himself. And it was extra fun to peel open the resolution of both!
What’s your favourite point of view to read and/or write?
Blurb: Freeman’s return to the city is quiet, without fuss. Another client: another case. He’ll source what they need and be on his way. But he’s been missed by more people than he thought: his ex-wife, his ex-lover, and his ex-business partner. And at least one of them wants him the hell gone again.
Freeman – private, controlled – just does his job. But when he strikes up an unusual friendship with the young runaway Kit, trouble comes looking for both men, ready to expose secrets that can destroy their fragile trust. Yet, for Kit, Freeman’s more than ready for the challenge.
From the book:
“So, Freeman, what do you actually do?”
His question caught me by surprise, but he looked genuinely interested. I didn’t explain myself to many people; I didn’t give many of them the truth. If there’d been anyone watching us, or if Kit’s eyes had been clouded with drugs, or even if it’d been nothing but a polite comment, I’d have turned away. Maybe he wanted to know for himself, maybe for someone else. But he genuinely wanted to know.
“I find things for people. Source them. Cars, properties, retail goods, collectibles. Information…research. Whatever they want and will pay for.”
Kit tilted his head in that way he had when he was thinking. “Sounds pretty lame. You get them money? Loans?”
I shook my head, smiling. “Nothing financial. Not my area of expertise.”
I shook my head again. I didn’t smile this time.
“Don’t frown like that, Freeman. You smoke stuff yourself.”
“Sure. Now and then. But just for me. And nothing harder.” I kept accusation out of my voice. We were talking about me, not him. I didn’t dictate other people’s lives, either.
“Miki does the harder stuff. Lots of them do.” He was baiting me. I could hear it. Maybe he didn’t know what he might find.
“I know.” I sighed again. “I know all about Miki.”
Kit smiled back at me, a wide, youthful grin. He seemed completely relaxed again now. I had to admire that in him too — the ability to shift from drama to comfort in a moment, as if there’d never been any concern in the first place. “Miki and the drugs,” he said softly. “I hear stuff about that too.” Pushing his hair back behind his ears, he waited for me to answer, but I was silent. “There’s something else going on at the moment, something to do with George’s business. It’s weird, something big. But I don’t know enough about it yet.”
“How do you know something’s going on?” I was careful with every word.
He shrugged. Maybe he heard something odd in my voice and was wondering whether he should have kept his mouth shut. A spot on the pavement between his trainers was suddenly of the utmost interest. “I’ve been around. I know.”
I bit my lip. “If you think it’s something criminal, maybe you’d better go to the police.”
He let out a snort of derision. “Is that what you are, Freeman? A cop?” He stared back up at me, suddenly intense.
“No,” I said dryly. “I’m not a cop. I’ve done too many things in the past that wouldn’t look good on an application form.”
“But you’re not one of them, either,” he said, meaning the inhabitants of George’s world.
“No.” I seemed to be saying that a lot nowadays. “Not anymore.”
He frowned. “You source things, you said.”
“I get people what they need,” I said quietly. “If I take them on as a client, I get it for them. Whatever it is. Whatever it takes.” And legally. Usually.
Kit didn’t seem to want to take it further. He shifted on the bench and sighed. “You go your own way.”
I nodded. It was a fair summary.
***Ranjbar Vahid. The Narrator, Iran:Baqney. 2011
Clare London … Writing Man to Man
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