Narrator Types

When writing a book , the question arises as to which type of narrator will be most appropriate to tell the story. The narrator is the one who tells us the data, the characters, opinions, emotions … from his point of view.

Some writers prefer to represent the story with a broad societal focus and opt for a third-person type of storyteller who sees everything. Other writers prefer to tell the story in the first person.

Learning to distinguish the different types of narrators is important in order to discover what the expressive mode of the story was. Next we will know what are the different types of narrators and their main differences.

narrator typeCharacteristics
In first personHe captures his vision of history from a realistic and experiential tone. The person telling the story is the one who was there when it all happened. The first-person narration can be:
-Protagonist narrator -Narrator in flow of thoughts
In second personTry to explain a story to a particular person.
In third personTell the story and do not participate in anything, or participate as little as possible within the story. This type of storyteller can be classified into:
storyteller -Observative storyteller

When the writer decides to choose what type of narrator will tell their story, they must take into account what they want to tell, how they want to tell it and what their objective will be, this implies knowing what effect they want to generate on the reader.

The choice of the narrator will be fundamental since it is the voice that will accompany the story throughout the entire book.

Types of narrators

The types of narrators can be:

First person narrator

The first-person narrator is very common and its main characteristic is that it captures its vision of history from a realistic and experiential tone. The person who narrates the story is the one who was there when everything happened, so it can be assumed that the universe in which it occurs is the same in which the present of the narrator is found.

Being a first-person narration we can obtain more information about the character, who may or may not be the protagonist, but is very important within the story.

First-person narration can be classified into other types of narrators:

-Witness narrator

In this case, the narrator is a character who is not the protagonist , but is a person very close to the main character and assists the protagonists in the events that take place throughout the story.

It is a widely used narrator when what you want to describe is the personality of the protagonist, his personal evolution and his narrative arc in a very subtle way, making a suggestion rather than a direct description, since he does not have access to real thoughts of said character.

Within this type of narration it is also possible to adopt a style that is more impersonal, in such a way that it simulates that everything was composed of reports.

In this narrative, the person who tells the story is a witness, either in the first or third person. The story is told from a specific, limited point of view, and with or without reference to himself. It does not make value judgments.

Depending on the way this witness narrator tells the information, it can be divided into different categories:

  • Impersonal witness: he expresses his gaze from a point of view as if it were a movie camera, this implies that he only limits himself to narrating what is happening. It is for this reason that the most common is that it appears in the present tense.
  • Eyewitness: This type of witness tells an experience or an event that was witnessed in the past.
  • Informant witness: This narrator presents the events as a report or chronicle, as if it were an authentic document.

An example of the type of witness narrator might be: John Watson in Sherlock Holmes.

-Narrator protagonist

The main narrator is one of the most popular and used. He tells the story from a more intuitive and simple point of view, telling the story from his point of view that is the main character , in a way that we would do in real life if we are telling something that happened to us.

This narrator tells the story in the first person and in an easy way to identify by the voice that tells the story is the main character and is in the center of the action. Being part of the story, your point of view on the events is limited and subjective.

This main narrator adds credibility to the story, since it makes it easier for the reader to perceive it as someone real and close. This narrator speaks directly and tells exactly how the events happened to him.

This character must be built according to his psychology, trying to express himself, act and express his opinion based on it, also taking into account that they must convey empathy, complicity, hatred, among more feelings. It is a very personal type of narration, and in most cases it is limited to telling a story.

-Narrator in flow of thoughts

This type of narrator is very little used, and what he tries to do is describe someone’s thoughts in a literal way, as they emerge from consciousness. Everything is explained in real time and the present is the moment of reference.

Examples of this type of narration can be seen in The Noise and the Fury, by William Faulkner; La colmena, by Camilo José Cela.

Second person narrator

The second person narrator tries to explain a story to a particular person. It can be presented in epistolary format, that is, as if it were composed of different letters addressed to someone in particular or as if you were a real dialogue in which one speaks and the other listens, and on many occasions trying to see what is being answered. the questions asked by the listener.

Examples of this type of storytelling are: The Great Gatsby, by Scott Fitzgerald; Aura, by Carlos Fuentes and Dear John, Nicholas Sparks.

Third person narrator

The third person narrator is the one who tells us the story and does not participate in anything, or participates as little as possible within the story. This type of narrator can be classified into:

-Omniscient narrator

This type of narrator is one of the most used, it is based on speaking from the point of view of an entity outside the plane in which the events occur, that is, everything is narrating as if you were a kind of god who has access to everything. the information and the mental states of each of the characters.

One aspect to take into account is that despite trying to describe in a reliable way what each of the characters feels and thinks, for a matter of coherence it is trying to avoid moving from one mind to the other in a chaotic way That is why it is best to focus attention on a character and what happens around him.

A clear example of the omniscient narrative can be seen in The Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien; Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes.

-Observing narrator

The observer narrator is quite similar to the previous one but in this case he does not have access to all the information about what is happening. This narrator is involved as little as possible in what happens in the story, both physically and psychologically, he tries to be neutral and objective.

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