Do You Know Who Your Narrator Is?

Recently, while driving, I got to thinking about perspectives within stories.  You won’t believe how often I think about writing while driving.

Now by ‘perspective’, I mean in reference to the narrator’s voice. As in the perspective of the narrator.  If you are writing a book in third-person your narrator will probably change (unless you’re writing third-person limited).

I have seen in a few unpublished stories by young writers, where the authors didn’t really take into consideration who the narrator was within a scene or chapter and this led to a disjointed story as the narrator randomly changed mid-scene.

Banner, do you know who your narrator is, image of coloured speech bubbles


Whenever I write a scene or chapter I always have an idea who the narrator is. By that, I mean, whose head I am in at that time. So I see the other characters react through his/her eyes.

That becomes the dominant character in that scene. As I have several major characters in all my novels, I do always need to consider who the narrator will be.


John rubbed his hand over his eyes, already there was a headache squeezing his temples. Maybe he could step away, just bow out and let them fix it on their own. Looking up he saw three hopeful faces.

“We did what you said,” Eric beamed. “Well, we mostly did what you said.”

Beside him Nancy seemed less sure, shifting her weight from foot to foot. Though the cautious smile she wore was slowly building.

Pretty obvious that the narrator of this scene is John. We are feeling his headache, sensing his frustration and the resignation that he really can’t “bow out”. We are seeing Eric beam and noticing Nancy shuffling about.

Now if the next paragraph went like this…


Nancy suddenly felt John’s gaze focus on the pair of them. There was no smile on his face, just a weariness buried deep in those brown eyes. Slowly she felt her own smile start to fade. Beside her Eric continued on, unaware as usual.

Now we’re in Nancy’s head.  We don’t know what John was thinking about just seeing his reaction and relaying how it affects hers.

As writers, we need to keep an eye on the dominant character within each scene. It can often help to make a note (for yourself) at the top of a scene/chapter as to who is the dominant character in this scene – who is the narrator.

If anything it can bring you back if you veer off course several pages in.

This is part of the creative process, trying to work out who is the best person to be the narrator in each scene. At the start of a new chapter, you can always shift to another character who is present and having their reaction to the tail-end of that scene.

Just something to think about. 🙂

Happy writing

Signature & logo of Ari Meghlen

FacebookTwitterInstagram ☆ GoodReadsPinterest ☆ Ko-Fi



6 thoughts on “Do You Know Who Your Narrator Is?

  1. So I came across this blog, right and I saw the name Arey and immediately thought of Jeremy Piven from entourage. Maybe this blogger will be intriguing like the character, Perhaps he’s an agent, I thought. I like your post about narration. I’m an incredible writer. Check out Ms Scarlet, Blue Jasmine and the empty voter. I’m currently working on a novel and I need connections. Here at Gastradamus we take care of our people. Some feedback would be great. They call me the next Terrance Winter.

  2. I solved this issue, by writing in first person. Well, the first book wanted to be written in first person so that set the path. But first person can be limiting because you can’t “go” anywhere that your main character hasn’t gone. The reader can’t know stuff they don’t know. That was part of why Emory has ended up with a partner/friend – Madison Twombly – who is much freer to nose around and can get info Emory otherwise couldn’t get.

    I’d really rather write third person where you’re able to change who’s point of view is dominant. That said, a lot of readers like first person because they feel it draws them into the story more easily.

    1. I read a book called Defiance by CJ Redwine that was in first person but shifted between the two main characters so each chapter mentioned who the dominant was. Made it very fun to read. I don’t mind first person but I prefer to write in third person (though my newest idea demands to be written in first person so guess I’ll be giving it a go). Yes people do seem to like first person but it can be a mixed bag, as it can draw people in as they feel they are experiencing it first hand but then I know some people who don’t enjoy first person if the character is very different to them (eg via gender difference).

      1. I’m kinda mixed myself on whether I prefer to read first and third person. I can feel pulled into the story equally well with either.

        I can definitely see where first could cause problems if the character is annoying to you or is a person that creeps you out..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.