Help/brainstorming needed please – using antagonist narrator

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  • #4602
    Bella
    Participant

    Some of you may recall my moaning about having ground to a halt with my WIP due to needing a new narrator.

    Well, I’m still kicking around ideas about that. I have half-heartedly started using an omniscient narrator.

    But here’s the thing. My original narrator was the kitchen table (bear with me…). That worked well at the start of the novel but inevitably it has hemmed me too much into the kitchen.

    I am now wondering whether to have the house as a malign narrator. No, I don’t think I have lost my marbles. The reason is that the protagonist – Molly – develops agoraphobia and her ultimate triumph is to be able to get out of the house again. Keeping the action somewhat claustrophobic should (I hope) make the reader as desperate as Molly for her to get out of the house. But having the house be malign in keeping Molly imprisoned while she labours under the impression the house is a safe haven could work well. I think.

    This is not a haunted house story, nor paranormal. I just want to explore Molly’s struggles from two aspects, if I can.

    Does anyone have any thoughts, or any reading to suggest where the narrator is a baddie, or where any main characters have agoraphobia (I have no experience on that, so currently Google is my friend.)?

    #4606
    Philippa East
    Participant

    Hi Bella,

    What a fascinating question!

    Such a great thing to ask yourself: who is telling the story? Having the house narrate would certainly be very unique and original.

    You would sort of have an omniscient narrator-type voice (presumably the house would have a pretty good ‘bird’s eye view’ of things?) but how fascinating too to think of the house as a (antagonistic) character in the novel.

    I’d suggest being pretty subtle about the notion that the house is narrating, as otherwise it could feel a bit gimmicky or surreal. You could look at the book “Fell” by Jenn Ashworth. This book is narrated by two “house spirits”.

    In terms of your narrator being a “baddie”, this could certainly create plenty of tension and drama. Just remember, that baddies don’t think they’re the baddies. They think they’re right (so you might need to think about WHY this house wants to keep Molly trapped).

    If you want help in understanding / portraying agoraphobia, let me know.

    #4607
    Philippa East
    Participant

    I’m also curious as to how much scope a house narrator gives you? Would every scene of your book have to be set inside / near the house? So intrigued!

    Here’s an article about villain narrators:

    https://www.bustle.com/articles/153308-20-books-with-villain-protagonists

    #4609
    Alan Rain
    Participant

    @Bellam, Have you thought of Molly’s slippers?

    #4614
    JaneShuff
    Participant

    Oh I think you could make it work @bellam. On one level the house could be a sort of manifestation of the forces inside Molly’s head keeping her imprisoned and I like the duality of it being a safe place and a prison at the same time.

    #4629
    Bella
    Participant

    Thanks all, and particularly Philippa. I may well have some questions on agoraphobia for you in due course – thank you so much for the offer of help.

    As to the house being the narrator – yes, it does mean that the entire book takes place in or around the house. It was actually working OK just taking place in the kitchen, but I think the story will be stronger/less contrived if I can use other areas.

    #4678
    KazG
    Participant

    What an interesting idea, @bellam. I think this could defintely work.

    Maybe one way to play it would be writing Molly in a slightly unreliable narrator way, so the reader is never quite sure whether it really is the house narrating, or Molly’s mental state projecting her own anxieties. I like the Stockholm Syndrome possibilities here too – the house as captor but also safe haven. Lots of fascinating mental aspects to explore.

    I’m thinking of John Fowle’s The Collector as an example of dark protagonist, which also has the plot of holding someone prisoner in a house. Doesn’t Gone Girl also have a baddie as narrator (haven’t read it myself)?

    #4890
    Philippa East
    Participant

    Hey @bellam, I just saw an extract of your book on the JW slushpile live video (with the Bent Agency). I thought it was great, and I’m so intrigued about your characters, especially Molly. Hope you’ve worked our your narrative device…. πŸ™‚

    #4891
    Bella
    Participant

    Wow. Thanks @philippaeast. So glad you liked it. I found that slush pile rather depressing, especially when they asked what age group I was writing for. I’m struggling with it still, so it’s on the back burner for a while while I do something else. I will come back to it but I need some distance first.

    #4892
    Athelstone
    Moderator

    Is that video on JW, @philippaeast? I just can’t spot it.

    #4898
    Bella
    Participant

    @athelstone – its in the Conversations section of My Jericho. The replays are at the bottom of the page and they have recently added the latest ones.

    #4900
    Philippa East
    Participant

    You have to be a member to access though.

    Oh, I didn’t think it was for younger people. Read it as adult for sure. Hope it finds its form in the end, and that your other projects are going okay meantime. X

    #4901
    Athelstone
    Moderator

    Thanks Bella πŸ™‚

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