January Prompt: Week of 01/21

Theme: Unreliable Narrator

One of the most famous unreliable narrators is Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, mostly because he’s a psycho serial killer. He describes his violent acts in extreme and shameless detail without emotive tones.

Another unreliable narrator is Humbert from Lolita, someone who commits arguably the most heinous act (molestation and rape of a child). However, his language is so convincing and praiseworthy of Lolita that you almost forget that what he’s doing is extremely horrible.

Exercise: For this prompt, your character (or first person narrator) is going to be incorporating one of the two examples I described above.

For option one, your character can commit a serious crime (maybe the crime happened before the story starts) and attempt to rationalize it with beautiful and deceptive language.

For option two, your character is not deceptive. In fact, your character is very focused on the horrible things he/she has done (but with no emotional undertones because he/she is a psycho).

In one case, your character is being deceptive through emotional devices. In the other case, your character is void of emotion and very clinical about the awful things he/she does. Either case should still be very descriptive (almost excessively-- you can always revise and cut
later).

Both cases present a situation in which the reader might be left feeling conflicted about whether he or she should believe the narrator (both for very different reasons). This is the key to unreliability narratives.

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Gitana Eleni from @gitana.eleni

Gitana was born and raised in Southern California and currently resides in Los Angeles with her fiance (Joey) and their cat (Kitty). She is a recent MA graduate of English Literature from CSULB (California State University of Long Beach) and specializes in Medieval Literature. She looks forward to continuing her education in a PhD program where she can have the opportunity to study Hagiography.

Her blog, Gitana Eleni, is a book/lifestyle blog where she shares her knowledge about the things she loves the most: books, school, self-care, cooking, bullet journaling, and much more, while also helping people along the way.

She likes reading lots of different books but some of her favorite authors are Stephen King, Nabokov, and JD Salinger. She is also obsessed with cults, serial killers, and all things true crime.