Authors including Chaucer, Edgar Allan Poe, and Agatha Christie have used unreliable narrators: a story told by someone who can’t be trusted. That person may be lying, mentally ill, excessively playful, boastful, forgetful, immature, naive, contradictory, drunk, drugged, confused, prone to misjudgement, or motivated by a hidden agenda. This kind of story can often end with a twist.
If you need an idea for an unreliable narrator, here are a few ideas:
• This is a wannabe heroic story about someone who is convinced that aliens have landed and infiltrated society, and who wants to force them to reveal themselves and take over the Earth, since humans have messed things up so badly.
• This is a reincarnation story about a child in a very troubled family; from time to time, memories of a normal life seem to rain down on her until it becomes a storm that drenches her with what seems like strength.
• This is a story told by a computer desperately trying to pass the Turing test
by recounting the events of the previous day, but in some ways it is more intelligent than a human and has difficulty hiding that fact.
And now this monthly series, Go Ahead – Write This Story,
will come to an end. Since 2011 I’ve been offering short writing tips and three ideas on every third Thursday. You now have 50 tips and 150 ideas, and that should keep you busy for a while.
— Sue Burke