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Narrative voice – questions

March 18, 2011

I have a list of questions I put to each text I analyse (though not each question applies to every text). These are the ones that I relate to narrative voice:

Narrative voice

– How else could this be written?

– Who is telling me this?

– what kind of story is this?

– third person? – seer/knower … what gives this narrator ‘third-person-narrative’ power?

– first-person? Is this story unsayable outside first-person narration??

– Where is the dialogue (as opposed to interior monologue / third-person writing)?? How is it used??

– what ways of listening/talking are offered in the text?

– who else can/could be a narrator of this story? Why? Why not?

– is the story told in a linear fashion? If not, how would a linear retelling change the experience of reading this text?

– where is the narrator positioned (in time and place) with respect to the action being described? (eg Holden Caulfield on the psychiatrist’s ouch recounting events pertinent to an apparent breakdown)

– is there a reading public? Is there a person to whom this text is addressed? What kind of reader does the text encourage you to be?

– how intimately connected to the narrator is the reader made to feel?

– what is the vantage point, or even the vested interest of a source, a text, a narrative?

– What technical elements support the narrative’s social function?  (eg. Stream of consciousness or satire may support nationalist writing – eg Joyce)

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