Literary Devices from A to Z – Brought to you by the letter N


graphic from




is for Narrator




The narrator is the person who tells the story. Narrators can be protagonists of a story, secondary characters in the story, or an unnamed persona uninvolved as a character in the story.

Narrators are not to be confused with authors. Even when the narrator is the uninvolved persona, the voice is a construct created by the author and not the author him/herself. Often the narrator is reliable in that s/he tells the truth, portraying an honest version of the story being told. Sometimes, the narrator may be unreliable, spinning a story later revealed to be just that—a story and not a truthful retelling of events.

Some interesting narratives I’ve read lately include Rose Baker, the unreliable narrator of Suzanne Rindell’s The Other Typist, and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, narrated by Death. Taking place during the early part of World War II, Death is ever-present. As a narrator, he focuses in on the characters and then pulls back to remind us he is always there, lurking in the shadows, audience to the players on the stage, waiting until just the right moment to cull their souls. Though I found this structure awkward at times, it works in the big picture when the reader learns that Death is a reliable narrator–when he says he will return for a soul when the time is right, he means it. He lulls the reader into a false sense of security, almost forgetting Death’s pledge to remove the character from the narrative and then he returns, reminding us of his presence.

Have you read any interesting, off-beat, or unreliable narratives lately? If so, share them in the comments below.

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6 Responses to Literary Devices from A to Z – Brought to you by the letter N

  1. Tasha says:

    I haven’t read an unreliable narrator lately, but I did watch one. I’m a Teen Wolf fan and through parts of the last season one of the characters wasn’t sure what was real and what was dream and neither was the audience. It was nicely done.
    Tasha’s Thinkings – AtoZ (Vampires)
    FB3X – AtoZ (Erotic Drabbles)

  2. admin says:

    I recall episodes of The Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island and the like who always had one episode where the same story was told by a different character narrator and none of them were reliable. Those were great episodes, though.

  3. Arlee Bird says:

    I’m not sure if my original comment went through because I didn’t notice the funky Captcha image.

    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

  4. vikki says:

    Just stopping by from the A-Z list to say “Hi” and wish you good luck with the rest of the challenge 🙂

    Love your theme! x

  5. admin says:

    Thank you so much, Vikki. Best of luck if you are doing the challenge as well.

  6. admin says:

    I don’t think I saw it, but thanks for posting. I love your tagline (Wrote By Rote). Very clever.

    Best wishes.

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