I recently started delving into a new genre of writing – adult/new adult fiction. When writing my recent manuscript, I decided to use an unreliable narrator. Thought I would pass on websites that provided definitions/examples I found helpful. Thank you Writer’s Digest and Education Portal. Happy writing!
Text from Writer’s Digest article:
When we select the first person we’re tempted to write as we speak. This can lead to undisciplined writing, potentially yielding rambling or flat, one-dimensional prose.
The tradeoff, though, can be authenticity. “There is no such thing as a third-person viewpoint in life,” Morrell explains. Which means you might say first person POV is the most true-to-life perspective from which to tell a story.
First-person narrators can be unreliable narrators (and often the best ones are), leaving what happened open to interpretation—and, in the hands of a skilled writer, this can add amazing depth to a story, as evidenced so expertly in the best known works of Mark Twain and J.D. Salinger. Stories like theirs demand to be told in first person—in fact, Morrell points out they could not be effectively told in any other way.
His key takeaway? Write in first-person only if you have a compelling reason to.
Education Portal definition/example:
Unreliable narrators are a type of first-person-driven narratives that give the audience the opportunity to make their own interpretations of a story.
First-person narrators are characters within the story telling the events of the plot from their perspective. Sometimes these characters deviate from the truth or have mental conditions that limit their abilities to tell the story accurately. We call these characters unreliable narrators.
An unreliable narrator is a character whose telling of the story is not completely accurate or credible due to problems with the character’s mental state or maturity. Some literary critics argue that there is no such thing as a reliable first-person narrator since every character is affected by his or her past experiences in the telling of a story, but most first-person narrators attempt to give the most accurate version of events. An unreliable narrator, however, holds a distorted view of the events, which leads to an inaccurate telling of the story, but this can give readers/viewers a chance to offer their own interpretations.
The term ‘unreliable narrator’ was first used by Wayne C. Booth in 1961 in The Rhetoric of Fiction. Since then, many authors and filmmakers use the technique to create interest and suspense in their narration. Some indicators that a narrator is unreliable include contradicting stories, incomplete explanations of events, illogical information, and even questions of the narrator’s sanity.
Modern Novel Examples:
Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl actually uses two unreliable narrators. The book is told through alternating accounts of Nick Dunne and the diary entries of his wife, Amy Dunne. Since their version of events in their struggling marriage conflict, the reader is unsure of which character to trust. It is later revealed that both characters lie, which makes both of them unreliable.
The above text/definitions/examples were taken from http://education-portal.com/academy/lesson/unreliable-narrator-definition-examples.html#lesson