An important choice for any writer, particularly of fiction, is that of ‘narrative mode’, by which I mean the choice of viewpoint and tense. It is rarely make-or-break as you can usually rewrite your story in a different narrative mode, but you don’t want to have to do this after you’ve written a substantial amount, so it makes sense to get it right early on.
In most cases the telling of a story involves at least three people, namely the reader, the narrator and the protagonist (or protagonists). However they can be combined. In a first person present tense narrative, for example, the narrator is the protagonist and the reader is invited to occupy his shoes, as in “I pick up the gun and point it at the burglar. For a brief moment I wonder whether I should pull the trigger, but then he moves and my instincts take over.” In the right hands this can be effective, but it is limiting as it gives no scope for reflection. Continue reading