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[personal profile] akcipitrokulo
My Dear Readers,

In my mailbox this week, I received a heart-rending plea for help. One of my loyal horde of struggling writers has really got her silly little knickers in a knot over how to write as an unreliable narrator. Never fear!

Look - writing can be difficult; we all know this. But, I think we have to agree, writing as an unreliable narrator is actually quite easy.

Let's start from the beginning. Usually, you need to do some research. What language do they speak in that area of Belgium? What are the colours in the tartan of my main character? Exactly what IS the best way to trap a haggis? What's the difference between a hijab, a burka and a niqab? (To be fair, that last one doesn't really matter.)

But as an unreliable narrator? Who cares!

All of those hours of boring research that used to keep you from writing your story can be discarded and replaced with valuable plotting time while playing Fallout 3. Or whatever takes your fancy; the important point is to keep the creative juices flowing without any shackles of putting pixel to screen. Now there's a way to kill your career! But I digress.

No research. You literally cannot say anything wrong. You're unreliable! And if, by mistake, you do happen to identify correctly the thickness of the line needed on your hero's illegal hunt, and guess correctly the differences between male and female nets, that's good too; obviously no-one is wrong all the time. The accidental reliability increases the belief in their unreliability!

Why would you need to know what a politician said last week? They are unreliable, remember? Silly arse probably forgot themselves anyway.

So. Point one. No research required.

And on to point three. Consistency.

Who has time for that?

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds". Quite right too. Consistency in general can put a crimp in your style; again, you have to take time away from valuable writing (or planning) time to ensure that just because your villain had a green car yesterday, he isn't getting into a purple one today. BORING!

So write the villain sections as an unreliable narrator. He's the VILLAIN, right? Evil? No motivation other than to thwart your hero? Of course he's the kind of unreliable cad who would lie to you about the colour of his car; ESPECIALLY if it isn't actually relevant. Evil, remember?

And finally - make them an animal. Or an inanimate object. Or disabled. Or some other thing that means their point of view can't be relied on. Make them a woman on their period and, to be honest, you can call the rest in.

See? Easy.

You're welcome!

Yours in writing,

Uncle McCready.


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