How to Write a Compelling Narrator

The more interesting the story, the better we enjoy the person telling it to us, but an irresistible narrator is a big part of what we like in a story. Here are some key things that contribute to the creation of an unforgettable voice:

1. The compelling narrator is as complicated as any person you know. He or she comes to the scene with the traumas and bright-penny memories that define him, and as this history seeps into the story, it adds richness and depth.

2. The narrator has a particular attitude that makes him both human and interesting. Is he a timid guy? A romantic? An addict? A fool?  A well-articulated persona is a hard to ignore.

3. The narrator has a point of view that remains consistent throughout the story. A consistent voice is easy to follow.

4.  The reader has to relate to the narrator—hate him or love him—for the narrator to be compelling. The narrator can be likeable, or not, and if not, has to arouse some compassion in the reader for hiswarts and flaws.

5.  Finally, a reader must trust his experience with the narrator. The narrator may not know everything about the tale—indeed, the narrator may be quite unreliable—but the reader has been drawn in by the force of his personality, or his charming quirks, or his most-human vulnerabilities . . . Whatever he says, we want to hear it.

Comments welcome and edited to include first names only, and website, if provided; never your email. Photo of Bert and Ernie by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML. Photo of women by Tayrawr Fortune.