Character Vs Narrator Where is Your Sympathy

These posts are adapted from the 20 minute lessons on story telling presented by Dan at the beginning of our Workshop! Workshop! show.

Building off of what we talked about the other day, which is the concept that you as 1st person narrator can be separate from you as a character. This gives you a lot of leeway and choice in how you frame a story. Think about whether your narratorial voice has biases, has interests, or predilections. Do you like one character more? You can make artistic choices here! Take time to play with the story. Play with who you as narrator sympathies with.

Play with your stories! Exaggerate, find a quiet place, find people you trust, and new directions!

For example, maybe in your story you’re running through the woods and there’s a bear. Maybe you get attacked or maybe it runs you away from the camp. For you as a character, that could be a courageous moment, or perhaps you’re scared and you run away. You can always choose to lean into what you feel is the truth there. But as a narrator with a voice, you can choose to side with the bear! What would that look like? You know, this bear sees a guy coming along and the bear thinks,  “He’s a settler. He’s gentrifying my forest with his bullshit tents!” 

It doesn’t matter what you were thinking in the moment. What matters is what you as an author think now, and how you want your story to move forward. Be truthful to the character and what he was thinking at the time. But you as author, have complete control of where the author’s sympathy is placed.

The narratorial choice of who the narrator sympathizes with can create tension between the you who is a narrator and the you who’s in the story. If you as the narrator sides with the bear, and you as a character thinks you’re the brave badass; There’s tension there. There’s irony there.
Because there’s two versions of you who see the situation so differently, there’s room for comedy in playing those two versions of yourself off of each other.

And it’s not good or bad, but it allows you to tell different stories or the same story in different ways. 

Bob Dancer Features in this episode

Permanent link to this article: https://storyluck.org/character-vs-narrator-where-is-your-sympathy/

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