Who’s telling tales?

Something I need to think more about when I write, to consciously think about and decide not drift into, is who is telling my story – I don’t mean writing it, that’s me! It’s something we talk about in the groups I lead and I often suggest exercises using different narrative voices – but it’s something I just seem to assume when I am actually creating my own story.

It maybe natural to begin as a child to tell stories in the way you’ve heard them, usually with a third person omniscient narrator who knows all and tells all. Quite often the story is told from the point of view of one person, Red Riding Hood for example, or Cinderella. Sometimes the narration switches, from what the Three Bears were doing at breakfast time, to what Goldilocks did when she came to their empty home, and then back again to the Bears discovery of the sleeping Goldilocks. Children hear stories told from the point of you of one character with the narrator as that character – especially when grandparents tell stories of what they did when they were children.

As more books are read, more stories heard, more films watched – even, maybe more games played, the idea of changing perspective of a narrative develops. Telling the story from the ‘I’ point of view telling it in a third person voice but from only one person’s point of view; relating the events and describing the people and location from a puppet-masters perspective looking down on the stage, from different characters points of view at different times in the story; or even mixing all these different ways of telling or writing.

When I began to write properly, all my stories were told in a first person narrative. When I began to write not only properly but seriously, I abandoned that and moved to a third person narrative and from that one person’s perception of events, even going into their mind and writing about their thoughts, feelings and memories.

However, in my novel ‘The Double Act’ which was written before, but published after other novels, this type of narrative switches halfway through. The first half is told from Genet’s point of view, the second mainly from Joost’s perspective, but a couple of times from the investigating police officer’s view.

When I started my first Radwinter book it wasn’t a conscious decision, but I just started writing in the first person, the character of Thomas. It was only much later when I had written and published several in the series, that I realised it was maybe a little strange to be writing as a man, and a man much younger than I am.

The novel I am working on at the moment set in the 1950’s, has reverted to a single character perspective, with me stepping back occasionally to write with that overarching omniscient, objective omniscience. It’s much harder work, I can tell you!

Here is a link to ‘The Double Act’:


I chose my featured image because the narrator (the writer or the characters) is a bridge to the action!


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