Category: perspective

Perspective Series: #11 Magical realism

Perspective Series: #11 Magical realism

Have you ever read a description of the real world embellished with magical, enchanted details? If the answer is yes, you’ve stumbled upon what writers call Magical realism. It is this Magical realism that we talk about in this article of the perspective series.

What is Magical realism?

This perspective narration was born first in figurative language than written language. It was a device used as early as the 1920s to make real-world photographs magical. Thus, urban backgrounds were depicted with a music box, a magic lamp, a magician’s wand, or any other detail that could distract the viewer’s gaze from everyday reality and make him focus on the magical element.

Some examples of Magical realism in narration

It seems that magical realism in literature began to spread later, particularly after the mid-1900s. One of the first to use it was Gabriel Garcia Marquez. His work, “One Hundred Years of Solitude”, described the vicissitudes of a well-to-do Colombian family by inserting magical elements such as local beliefs and tales of superstition.

Even in Italy, we had an author who extensively used this perspective technique, Dino Buzzati. In many of his stories appear magical and enchanted objects.
When reading “The bewitched jacket”, the reader does not ask himself why there is a magical jacket but accepts its presence in everyday reality as it could be his own and follows the story with attention. One forgets that the whole story revolves around elements that do not exist.

Magical realism: what is it all about?

Magical realism aims to bring the reader into a world other than the everyday. The magical elements, which are intertwined with the real world, are described so carefully and naturally that the reader accepts them without asking too many questions. The initial reaction is one of amazement and estrangement. What is a magic lamp doing in the desert? But as the story continues, these objects become a part of the narrative reality that they seem almost real and natural.

Characteristics of Magical realism

One of the first features of this perspective is that it distorts time.
The author manipulates it, reverses it, and no longer has a timeline. Similarly, the cause-and-effect binomial no longer exists. Some events can happen before their cause.
Then, of course, the presence of at least one magical element is crucial.
Legends, folk beliefs, spirits, and animate objects, become part of the narrative naturally.

I couldn’t tell if I was living in a dream, if I was happy or if I was suffocating under the weight of a fatality that was too great. On the street, through the raincoat, I was constantly groping at the magical pocket. Each time I breathed with relief. Under the fabric, the comforting crunch of paper money answered.

Dino Buzzati- The bewitched jacket

Magical realism: when to use it?

To decide what style to give your narrative and whether to use Magical realism, bibisco can help you.
Thanks to its innovative book writing software, you can easily figure out what story to write, how to describe your characters, what narrative technique to use, and even keep track of all the magical objects you decide to include in your story.

Perspective Series- Magical realism- bibisco's object section - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s object section


Magical realism is a narrative perspective that the author can use to create a different narrative from the usual while keeping the real world as the setting.
It is the magical objects, the details, and the outline of the story that is enchanted. And it is these same details that draw the reader into the story, accepting the existence of magical objects in the real world.

Perspective Series: #10 Defamiliarization

Perspective Series: #10 Defamiliarization

In the Perspective Series, we saw different narrative techniques that show how a narrator can tell a story from several perspectives and different points of view. What we will discuss in this article is another Perspective that is the Defamiliarization, a concept that comes from Russian literature.

What is the Perspective of the Defamiliarization?

Defamiliarisation, or alienation, is a new perspective to view something in a different new way. In this way, this technique changes the everyday perception of that particular object.

By the early 20th-century, the Russian literary critic Viktor Shklovsky in his ‘Art as Technique’, coined this term.

To fully understand Defamiliarization, we have to understand that notion from a Russian point of view. For Russian formalists, literary language is essentially different from any other language because, unlike the latter, it has no practical function.

Literature is a language that simply serves to make us see things through different eyes. Moreover, it succeeds in doing so thanks to precise stylistic and structural techniques.

The Russian writer explains, in fact, how Defamiliarization uses language in such a way that ordinary and familiar objects appear different from what they actually are.
When using this perspective, Literary language is a distorted and alienated everyday language.

Why is the Defamiliarization important?

According to Shklovsky, using this perspective and a different language allows for a new and fresh description of the same object. It leads the reader to be surprised by something that he now considers to be habitual. Moreover, the reader can think about this new reality.

If a story simply talks about hills, this image will not materialize in the reader’s mind.
However, the hills acquire a new image by adding details and changing perspective.
They become green, sinuous hills, from which a farmhouse can be reached by a dirt road. Can you see them now in your mind?

Perspectives like Defamiliarization through bibisco

Bibisco aims to help you write a novel that represents you. It allows you to gain an appealing style without losing sight of your writing style.
bibisco is an innovative novel writing software that helps you set up your story, creating the characters, plot, and events. After that, you can focus on the narrative techniques and different perspectives you can use to make your story unique.

Perspective Series- Defamiliarization- bibisco's characters' section - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
Character’s events section


Defamiliarization is a concept that comes from Russian literature. In particular, according to Russian writers, people tend to become accustomed to images of everyday objects. Therefore, they store them as habitual. Defamiliarisation allows the reader to see the same objects from a new perspective and be amazed again.

Perspective Series: #9 Author surrogate

Perspective Series: #9 Author surrogate

Only the last perspective is missing to complete the author/narrator Perspectives Series overview: Author surrogate. The surrogate author is a substitute for the author within the narrative. Let’s take a look at its characteristics and how best to use this technique.

What is the Author surrogate?

As the term itself suggests, the surrogate author is a surrogate of the author. It is a character inserted within the narrative who takes on the author’s characteristics.
It is possible to create a character with a different name, physical characteristics, and personality but who in some way has a direct link with the author of the narrative.

The aim is to allow the author to write their own opinion or make this surrogate character react as they would if they were inside their own story. However, the reader can not understand that this is a character unless the author does not want to reveal it.

Some examples of Author surrogate

In fiction, there are many examples of this perspective. As already mentioned, the reader is often surprised when they learn of the link between one of the characters in the story and the author themself. This is because there is no explicit element linking one to the other.

For example, in Jurassic Park, author Michael Crichton thought of creating the eccentric character Ian Malcolm to express through him his ideas about cloning and the failure of the whole project.

Similarly, going further back in time, Plato, in his writings and in particular in his “Apology of Socrates“, uses the character of Socrates to express his thoughts and concepts.

Stephen King has also often used this technique. Think of the many characters in his novels, such as The Shining, Misery, or The Dark Half. The main characters are all writers, just like their author.

What is the aim of an Author surrogate?

An author may choose to use this Perspective for different reasons.
Firstly, to express ideas and opinions that they have never expressed before as an author. An author of novels cannot express their opinions in the same way as a columnist. One of the ways to do this is to create an Author surrogate.
Secondly, the link between author and character is something that can strike the reader and serve as a twist, especially when revealed at the end of the story. In this way, even after finishing the reading, the reader will be pleasantly impressed by what they have learned.

Use bibisco to choose the best Perspective

With this Perspective on the author’s figure, we have explained all the techniques related to the narrator. In this way, you can choose which method of writing best suits you and your narrative.
bibisco can help you with this choice. Thanks to its novel writing software, bibisco can help you decide whether to create an Author surrogate or rely on a Third-person narration, for example.

Perspective-Author surrogate- bibisco's Timeline - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s main character section


The Author surrogate technique can be very useful in several respects.
It allows the author to express something more of themself while disguising themself in the guise of a character. The technique also allows the author to leave the reader with a feeling of a twist if they detect that the author is hiding under the narrative’s main character.

Perspective Series: #8 Audience surrogate

Perspective Series: #8 Audience surrogate

The particular point of view we talk about in this new article of the Perspective Series is the Audience surrogate.

This perspective gets its name because a protagonist stands in for the audience reading the story. Let’s see its characteristics.

What is the Audience surrogate?

The Audience surrogate is a particular perspective that considers the reader’s point of view. This is a technique frequently used in detective fiction and fantasy, in which a character asks a central character how they performed specific actions. The purpose is to invite that character to explain why they did specific actions to the reader.

In Audience surrogate, one or more characters ask the same questions like the one that a reader would think. For this reason, the technical definition for the Audience surrogate is that this perspective is the proxy of the reader.

Narrative Perspective: the importance of the Audience surrogate

Thanks to the Audience surrogate perspective, the readers feels completely immersed within the narrative. Their questions and curiosities are anticipated and satisfied by the character in the story itself. Therefore, this character is on the same plane as the reader following the narrative.
It is a type of technique that allows the readers to be involved and to make them feel, in some way, an integral part of the story, so much so that they almost think that that particular character is real.

Audience surrogate: some examples

One of the most evident example of Audience surrogate is Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. In all the adventures of the world’s most famous detective, Watson, who always accompanies him, asks him questions to understand how Holmes arrived at a particular conclusion. Arthur Conan Doyle could have explained the solution of the case in another way, for example, by telling the facts as they happened. Instead, he chose to do so with the Audience surrogate, making Watson serve the reader.

In Harry Potter, Harry himself is a surrogate for the audience. Harry knows nothing, as the reader, about the magical world of Hogwarts. He learns its dynamics, its peculiarities, marveling and explaining them as if the reader himself were seeing them directly.

Your bird, there was nothing I could do. He just caught fire!

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling

How to use the Audience surrogate perspective

So many narrative techniques, so many perspectives…too many? Not sure where to start? It can happen to anyone. Even the most experienced writers. Every new story has its own history, dynamics, and characters. bibisco, with its innovative novel writing software, helps you understand where to start when writing your story. Above all, it allows you to put order among the many ideas, characters, and narrative techniques at your disposal to write an engaging and captivating story.

Perspective Series: #8 Audience surrogate- bibisco's Timeline - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s analysis section


Audience surrogate is a very useful perspective to use when it is necessary to make the reader completely enter into an imaginary and completely unknown world. It is also used when the story is so rich in information that it needs a character within the story to clarify the reader’s doubts even before they arise.

Perspective Series: #7 Third-person omniscient narration

Perspective Series: #7 Third-person omniscient narration

Among the various Perspectives Series, we have written about First-person narration, Second-person, and Third-person.
If you missed the article on Third-person limited narration, you could read the article on this type of Narration Perspective.
However, there is another type of Perspective: Third-person omniscient narration.

What is the Third-person omniscient narration?

In general, in third-person narration, the story is narrated by a person other than the story’s protagonists.
However, the third-person omniscient narration is the author’s point of view, who knows everything about the narrative. They know the characters and their thoughts. They know what will happen and how the story will end.

This type of narration allows the reader to follow the story from different points of view, depending on the characters. They can see the story through the eyes of an adult or a child, a man or a woman, the main protagonist, or a secondary character.

Why to use the Third-person omniscient narration?

Like all narrative and perspective techniques, it has its advantages and disadvantages.
The advantage is that it allows the reader a deep immersion into the narrative. The reader gets to know all the characters well, in their depths. They also learn to distinguish them by their way of thinking and acting.

In third-person omniscient narration, the narrative passes from one character to another.
However, this technique must be used carefully. And this is the main disadvantage. If used superficially, it risks confusing the reader. There is a risk of losing the narrative thread and pushing the reader not to continue reading.

Another disadvantage of this perspective is that the reader is not surprised by the events. If the narrator anticipates that something will happen soon, the reader already knows something unexpected will happen.
Therefore, the narrator has to play on the unknown of what will happen.

Example of Third-person omniscient narration

We can find one of the most famous examples of third-person omniscient narration in J. R. R. Tolkien‘s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Tolkien narrates the story of the ring company from different points of view. The reader thus gets to know each character in depth.
Frodo was the only one present who had said nothing. For a while he had remained silent beside Bilbo’s empty chair, ignoring all remarks and questions. He had appreciated the joke, of course, even though he had been aware of it.

Lord Of Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien

There was once a young man who wished to gain his Heart’s Desire.
And while that is, as beginnings go, not entirely novel (for every tale about every young man there ever was or will be could start in a similar manner) there was much about this young man and what happened to him that was unusual, although even he never knew the whole of it. The tale started, as many tales have started, in Wall.

Stardust- Neil Gaiman

What kind of narration for your story?

If you want to write a story, you will have to choose which perspective to use in your narrative. How to do this? Which narration suits your story best?
bibisco, with its innovative novel writing software, guides you in this choice. You can use bibisco’s software tools to figure out which narrative to use and create a genuinely engaging story.

Perspective Series: #7 Third-person omniscient narration- bibisco's Timeline - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software


In third-person omniscient narration, the narrator is completely free from the constraint of characters. They can provide information about the context, inform the reader about future events, comment on the story.

Perspective Series: #6 Third-person limited narration

Perspective Series: #6 Third-person limited narration

In this series focusing on the figure of the author and the narrator, we have dealt with first-person and second-person narration.
Now we continue our Perspective Series by talking about third-person narration. There are two types, and here we start with the first: third-person limited narration.

What is the third-person limited narration?

Third-person limited narration occurs when the third-person narrator limits the actions and thoughts to that one character.

In this case, therefore, the protagonist can not tell the other characters’ points of view or thoughts because they only know their own.

One of the best examples of writing with third-person limited narration is the Harry Potter books by J.K.Rowling. Rowling uses Harry Potter as a ‘limited‘ narrator character. Below is an example:

Fascinated, Harry leafed through the rest of the contents of the envelope. Why the hell did Filch want a Kwikspell course? Did that mean he wasn’t a real wizard?”
What do we learn from reading these lines?
We know the events Harry Potter is facing, what is happening. Nevertheless, we have no idea what the feelings of the other protagonists or, specifically, Filch are.

Third-person limited narration (subjective point of view)

This narrative structure is most similar to first-person narration. The protagonist tells the facts exclusively from his point of view. The difference with first-person narration is that the narrator tells the events in the third person.

Third-person limited narration (objective point of view)

The characteristic of this particular perspective is objectivity. The protagonist narrates the story’s events exactly as he perceives them through his senses. Therefore, the narrator leaves out the thoughts and feelings in the narration.

Third-person limited narration: characteristics and risks

What, then, are the characteristics of third-person limited narration?

  • It creates a strong intimacy between the narrating character and the reader. It excludes the intrusion of other characters.
  • The secondary characters are more mysterious. They therefore capture the reader’s attention more since they do not know much about them.

This technique is very effective, but you have to know how to use it correctly and avoid certain risks.

Firstly, avoid too many changes of perspective. Within the same chapter or scene, be careful not to tell events from the point of view of one protagonist and then switch to another without explaining anything. The reader would find himself disoriented.
To avoid this disorientation, you can adopt some formatting tricks. For example, separating the two narratives of the two different ‘limited’ characters with a line spacing.

The third-person limited narration is the one that most closely reflects reality. On the other hand, none of us can know what the other characters are thinking during events. Be careful, however, to use appropriate language respecting the era, the society, the age of the characters and their cultural level.

Finally, do not forget that the character is the narrator and not the author. In the description of places, limit yourself to what the character sees and smells without adding anything else that the narrator would not see or hear with their senses.

“Robert Jordan trusted the man, Anselm So far, in everything but judgement, he had not yet had the opportunity to test his judgement and, in any case, judgement was his responsibility. “

For whom the Bells Tolls – Ernest Hemingway

Learn how to write your story with bibisco

Do you like to write and have a story in mind? The main difficulty in writing a novel is to start in the right way.
Writing straight away without structure is not the right way because you risk creating a story with unrelated events and boring the reader.
Thanks to bibisco and its innovative writing software, you will be able to understand what order to give your story and what narrative techniques to use.

Perspective Series #6: Third-person limited narration- bibisco main characters' section - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco main characters’ section


Third-person narration is one of the most widely used and engaging narration techniques. It creates a strong bond between the character and the reader and keeps around the other characters, and the story in general, an aura of mystery that captures the reader’s attention.

Perspective Series: #5 Second-person narration

Perspective Series: #5 Second-person narration

Among the various perspective techniques we presented in our Perspective Series, there is one called Second-person narration. The Second-person narration is one of those perspective techniques that characterize the writing of a story.
It involves using the second person as the subject of the narrative.

What is the Second-person narration?

The Second-person narration is a narrative technique that concerns the narrator. As we have already seen in previous articles, the narrator can have different points of view. There is, in fact, first-person narration rather than second-person narration.
It is a little-used perspective technique, but it can create a strong involvement for the reader, who finds himself conditioning the plot of the narration with his own decisions.

Its characteristic is that it addresses the reader directly without presenting itself overtly as the ‘narrative self’.

The narrator can be a character, an external narrator, or even an object that witnesses the protagonist’s life.

The story is told using ‘you‘.

Simply put, the reader stays in the background and puts the reader in the foreground.

When Second-person narration is used?

Second-person narration is widely used in advertising and in those stories where the reader conditions the narrative’s ending.

An example you might not have thought of is role-playing or board games in general, where cards give the player directions on how to proceed in the game. An example: ‘Skip a turn!’ or ‘Back to the start’.

In the field of advertising, we think of Nike‘s slogan ‘Just do it’. This is also an example of second-person narration.

Why using the Second-person narration?

This technique allows the reader to identify with the story, experiencing the events more closely. Furthermore, using the second person explicitly (‘you’) increases the sense of urgency of the plot.

However, there are risks in using this technique.

The first risk is the colloquial and informal tone.

Secondly, writing a series of actions, almost as if it were a shopping list, boring the reader. It can be helpful to break up the descriptions in these cases, lightening the sentences.

A final risk is to disorientate the reader who, when reading the actions identified with ‘you‘, cannot identify with the character. Sometimes, the reader has a different nature and character than the character, which would lead them to act in an entirely different way from what is described in the story.

What are you doing, moon, in heaven? Tell me, what are you doing? Silent moon?

Giacomo Leopardi – Night Song of a Wandering Shepherd of Asia

First-person or Second-person narration?

There are several aspects to pay attention to before writing a story. And, at the same time, there are different perspectives to choose from.
bibisco helps you with this. Besides consulting the blog to learn more about narrative techniques and different ways of telling a story, you can use its innovative novel writing software.
You can decide how to describe your characters, what characteristics they will have, and what tone to give your story.

Perspective series- Second person narration - bibisco character's events - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco character’s events


In Second-person narration, the narrative perspective is the narrator addressing the reader or a particular character directly. The story is told in the second-person singular (‘you’). The effect is to engage the reader with great emphasis.

Perspective Series: #4 Breaking the fourth wall

Perspective Series: #4 Breaking the fourth wall

Have you ever had one of the main characters address you directly in a book or a film?

The Breaking the Fourth Wall technique, in addition to others of our “Perspective series“, is used by authors and directors to engage and surprise the audience.

What does “Breaking the Fourth Wall” mean?

The concept of Breaking the Fourth Wall was first mentioned in Denis Diderot’s essay ‘De la poésie dramatique’ in 1758. Diderot explains that this technique was used in the theatre. It aimed to make the actors act more realistically, forgetting the audience’s presence.

In other words, the Fourth Wall is an expression indicating an “imaginary wall” through which the audience observes the action taking place in the narrative. This wall is usually the element that separates the reader, or the spectator, from the story. In some cases, however, this wall can be broken down.

The audience follows a narrative involved but knows that everything they are reading is pure invention until one of the characters starts to address the readers directly with reflections or considerations about what is happening.

At this point, the audience is thus directly involved in the narrative.

Breaking the Fourth Wall: what is the purpose?

When a character addresses the audience directly creates The Breaking of the Fourth Wall. This reminds the audience that what they are seeing or reading is fiction. At the same time makes them feel more involved in the story.

Many authors have used this perspective. This technique forces the audience to see the narrative in a different light and to watch actively.

Among these authors, we can mention Bertold Brecht. He deliberately broke the Fourth Wall to make the audience think more critically.

Luigi Pirandello also used this particular technique in ‘Six Characters in Search of an Author‘. The characters move beyond the stage space and act in the middle of the stall.

Some examples of Breaking the Fourth Wall from the world of cinema

A relatively recent example of a film using this perspective is Martin Scorsese‘s ‘The Wolf of Wall Street‘.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jordan Belfort. He often addresses the audience while looking at the camera to comment on the unfolding events.

The same technique is used in another Scorsese film, ‘The Goodfellas‘. Ray Liotta, plays a character who provides the narration of the story. In the meantime, he explains to the audience how he feels, what is happening, and his thoughts.

A fourth wall break inside a fourth wall break? That’s like… sixteen walls

Wade Wilson- Deadpool

Where to start when writing a novel?

To write a story, you first need to have the plot and the characters in mind.

But this is not enough to create a compelling story.

You need to know what elements to include, what techniques to use, and what tone to write in.

bibisco gives you lots of advice on storytelling techniques and the elements to use in a story. Moreover, its innovative novel writing software helps you write the story effortlessly, guiding you step by step.

Perspective Series: #4 Breaking the Fourth Wall - bibisco's project explorer - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s project explorer


Breaking the Fourth Wall is a technique used in various fields, from television to novels and plays.

The aim is to surprise the audience, who suddenly find themselves directly involved and challenged by one of the characters.

Usually, a narrator inside the story addresses the reader to comment and express their emotions and thoughts.

Perspective Series: #3 Stream of consciousness

Perspective Series: #3 Stream of consciousness

The following technique in our perspective series has to do with psychology: we talk about the stream of consciousness.

In this sense, the author uses narrative and stylistic devices to create the sense of an unedited interior monologue.

What is a Stream of Consciousness?

The stream of consciousness is a narrative technique that consists of the free representation of a character’s thoughts as they appear in mind. Thoughts are not logically reorganized into sentences and are not introduced by graphic signs or binding syntagmas.

In other words, it is an interior monologue, where the individual emerges in the foreground, with their inner conflicts, their emotions, feelings, and sensations, in short, his unconscious psychic life.

This particular technique was officially invented by philosopher and writer William James at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. At this time, there were psychoanalytic theories, in particular Freud’s studies on the unconscious. Its characteristics are to eliminate dialogue, concentrating on a free flow of thoughts, without rules or graphic expedients (commas, inverted commas).

Many writers have made use of this particular technique. Above all, James Joyce, Virginia Wolf, Jack Kerouac, William Faulkner, Svevo, Pirandello.

How the stream of consciousness works

Moreover, the thoughts of the characters are reported as described below:

  • the character’s narrative voice is not introduced by the verbs of thinking and delimited by inverted commas
  • through the technique of discourse with the mediation of an external narrator
  • characters who think refer to themselves in the first person
  • the verb tenses of the character’s thoughts are in the present tense
  • without rational logical order and conventional sentence syntax
  • without the use of ligature syntagmas or graphic signs.

Stream of consciousness: example

Among the various authors who made use of the stream of consciousness, we mentioned James Joyce.
For instance, his novel, Ulysses, ends with a stream of consciousness. Actually, it is an inner dialogue of eight paragraphs, without pauses or punctuation.

“Tight shoes? No, she’s lame! Oh! Mr Bloom watched her limp away. ‘Poor girl! That’s why she had sat on the ledge while the others took off running. There seemed to be something unusual about her outward moves. Beauty of wasted vagueness. A defect in a woman is worth ten times as much. But it makes them kind. Glad I didn’t know that when she was showing off. But a wild one, nevertheless. I wouldn’t mind of. Curiosity. Like a nun, a black woman, a girl with glasses. That cross-eyed one is a tough one. She’s about to have her period, I have an idea, that makes her shady. I’ve got a headache today! Where did I put the letter? Ah, here it is. They have all kinds of crazy cravings.”

Extract of “Ulysses”- James Joyce

Use bibisco to write your perfect story

Not sure where to start writing your novel?
bibisco has a special novel planning software that helps you write the perfect story.
You can determine which character to give to your narrative, the characters, the plot and which narrative techniques suit you best.

Perspective Series #3: Stream of Consciousness- bibisco's main character conflict section - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s main character conflict section


In conclusion, a stream of consciousness is a technique that is distinguished by being punctuation-free. They are thoughts that seem disconnected from each other but lead the reader to reflect and get to know the character well. A writer can use the stream of consciousness to convey the thoughts or feelings going on in a character’s head, a writer’s trick to convince the audience of the authenticity of the thoughts they are trying to write into the story.

Perspective Series: #2 Unreliable Narrator

Perspective Series: #2 Unreliable Narrator

In our previous article of the Perspective Series, we talk about the topic of the First-person Narrator. We know that the first-person narrator tells the story in their voice. They are not always aware of all the facts. But should we always believe the narrator and everything they say? This is the case of the Unreliable Narrator.

What is the Unreliable Narrator?

An unreliable narrator in literature, film, theatre, etc., deceives the reader by giving him a false perspective on the story. Thus, the readers remain trapped in this view of events until they gradually discover that the narrator is not credible. The unreliable perspective occurs mainly with the personal narrative method.

Wayne C. Booth coined this term in his book “The Rhetoric of Fiction“, explained how an unreliable narrator is. It has a narrative function, such as misleading the reader/viewer or putting the character in question in a negative light. Narrative characters can be unreliable if they have psychological flaws, show strong prejudices, lack experience, or even consciously mislead the audience.

Who is the Unreliable Narrator?

It is important to remember that the narrator is not the author. The narrator is directly involved in the story and is not always aware of the facts.

Generally, having a narrator who tells the story as it happens, with his emotions, has a particular goal. The readers are more involved because they know that the narrator does not know what will happen.

The narrative perspective of the Unreliable Narrator is often used in crime and thriller novels. However, it is a rather complex technique to use. The Unreliable Narrator is a narrator who does not report the facts as they happened.

The three actions of an Unreliable Narrator

Three actions define and make it clear that we are dealing with an unreliable narrator:

  • Omission
  • Alteration
  • Distortion

In the first situation, the Unreliable Narrator omits facts or causal links of fundamental importance. The omission of certain events prevents the reader from really understanding the situation and guessing how it will develop. The reader is thus left groping in the dark.

However, an Unreliable Narrator also alters the reality of the facts by reporting events inaccurately. In essence, the narrator presents their point of view to the reader without revealing that it does not correspond to reality.

Finally, the Unreliable Narrator applies the ‘distortion of judgment‘. This is the judgment alteration of themself and the other characters.

The Unreliable Narrator in books

A clear example of the Unreliable Narrator is Italo Svevo‘s Zeno’s Conscience.
Zeno Cosini is the unreliable narrator of this story. To appear better than he is in the eyes of Doctor S., Zeno distorts the facts of the past and constantly alters his judgments.

In the book’s first chapter, Doctor S. himself explains this characteristic very well. He decides, in revenge, to publish Zeno’s autobiography, warning the reader of the mountain of lies he will find written in it.

In addition, Agatha Christie used it extensively in her mystery books. In ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd‘, she did it where the reader finds out that the narrator is the story’s culprit.

“We commonly do not remember that it is … always the first person that is speaking.”

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Write your story with the Perspective of the Unreliable Narrator

As we have seen, the Unreliable Narrator Perspective confuses the reader. At a certain point, the readers undergo a twist, realizing that they have been dealing with an Unreliable Narrator.

bibisco and its novel planning software can help you figure out which perspective to give your narrator, depending on your writing story.

Perspective Series- Unrealiable Narrator- bibisco's project explorer - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s project explorer


An Unreliable Narrator exalts himself and his ethics by blaming other characters for his own mistakes.

Why is this used? The primary function is providing the reader with a distorted view of the facts, told from the point of view of the unreliable narrator. This generates continuous uncertainty, which produces truly exciting twists and turns!