In my ‘Corpse-Eater Saga,’ I wanted to push myself a bit with my writing. I try to do that as often as I can. In this case I did a couple of things that I don’t normally do. The first thing I did was give myself a narrator who relies less on his eyesight than the rest of us. That has actually been much harder for me to handle than you’d think. Recently i went back over book one and I found several things I should have done differently if I really wanted to make that detail stick.
But the other thing I did, the thing that I want to contemplate right now, is use an unreliable narrator.
As a rule, the unreliable narrator is not my favorite tool. Mostly it goes back to my own gullibility. As a rule, when somebody tells me something, my first instinct is to believe them. Even after having been lied to many times, and having discovered that I was given an obscenely one-sided story, when I talk to people and they tell something, I have to make a concerted effort not to assume that their recitation is the literal truth.
I have used unreliable narrators before, particularly in short stories. Having someone who is misinformed or unable to perceive the truth of a particular situation is quite useful for twist endings. But in ‘Awfully Appetizing,’ I am trying for something a bit subtler with my character. I’m trying to write the story of somebody who is dishonest with himself. Giving quiet hints that his perception of the world is skewed has proven more difficult than I anticipated.
Part of the problem may be that I’m going for something a little bit too subtle. Or maybe he’s not dishonest enough with himself. Is he really an unreliable narrator, or is he just uncertain?
Maybe I failed to make him unreliable and only made him conflicted.
One of the tricky things when you’re looking at writing a series is that it’s hard to maintain what you perceive as a flaw in your narrator over the course of years and years, and books and books. You see the flaws in them so clearly, you can’t imagine how they could completely miss it in themselves.
Well, if that’s the case, at least he should pick up some of my own personal flaws, the ones that I’m blind to.