Friday, January 23, 2009

First-Person Supporting Character (4th in a series)


A supporting character narrator can be any character who is the protagonist' relative, friend, or associate and can be either supportive or unsupportive of the protagonist. Probably one of the best know of these is Dr. Watson of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. Since the narrator is a participant in most of the action, the first-person singular I is used less than the first-person plural we. The advantages of this POV are:

1. It can make a story more believable and realistic than if narrated by the protagonist. A supporting character narrator can describe the protagonist as the best, the greatest, or as being heroic and the reader will accept it without thinking it is bragging or boastful. He/she can also relate events about the protagonist without the reader questioning their credibility.

2. The supporting character narrator is seldom called to support his/her knowledge of the protagonist. He/she can reveal personal things about the protagonist's life going back to childhood to the reader. The reader will assume the narrator either experienced these events or the protagonist related them to him/her.

3. This POV allows the narrator to describe the protagonist. He/she can show how the protagonist's responds physically and emotionally to events as they occur.

4. This POV can reduce or eliminate reader boredom. If at some point n the story, the author feels the reader may become bored, the narrator can relate something interesting or exciting about another character.

5. The supporting character narrator has more freedom than a protagonist narrator and is therefore less restricted in the use of omniscient powers.

Disadvantages of this POV include:

1. A reader can only participate in events to the extent the narrator does. This can be a huge disadvantage because many dramatic and exciting scenes cannot be written in action. For example, if the protagonist and his/her significant other have an argument off screen, so to speak, the narrator can only tell about it. This violates the "Show; Don't Tell" Rule. In a court of law the event would be labeled "Hearsay".

2. The reader may identify with the narrator rather than the protagonist, this is not the case in the First-Person Protagonist Narrator or the Third-Person Protagonist POVs.

This POV has its place. It lends itself well to humorous novels, however a new novelist might be better off if he/she kept the protagonist as the focal point.

3 comments:

NAVAL LANGA said...

I have read some of your posts and would like to revisit.

If you like short stories and paintings, then a visit to my blogs would be an interesting one for you.

Naval Langa
SHORT STORIES by NAVAL LANGA
PAINTINGS GALLERIES

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Barry said...

Lots of good information here. Thank you for publishing all this. I've finally gotten my first humorous mystery published and need all the help I can get.

I write about fish and wildlife and the absurdities of life. Please take a look. I'd be very interested in any comments you might have. I have two other manuscripts in this series finished and one half done.

www.barryahiggins.blogspot.com/

Thanks,

Barry

NAVAL LANGA said...

You have written an informative article here. In most of my short stories I use first person narrative.

Naval Langa
SHORT STORIES by NAVAL LANGA
PAINTINGS GALLERIES