Narrator, narrator…where art thou?

15 Jul

Or more appropriately you and I should be asking “who art thou?”

A narrator is a very important element of the book…essential to telling the story of course. As a writer I am communicating to my reader through my story’s narrator. And as I have started off my process, deciding on the narrator, identifying her voice and then sticking to it has been one of the most challenging elements thus far. 

The good thing is I really like my narrator. 

In writing my book, I’ve decided to take a little different approach, I think, than other young adult novels. My story is not being told in first person or through the voice of a young adult. The narrator of “Evelyn’s Drawings Can’t Swim” is in fact Evelyn Zerzanek  herself.

This presents a number of challenges in itself. For one, I have never met Evelyn (which makes it interesting that I presume we are on a first name basis!) and don’t really know much more about her than the many years she spent working at the Cedar Rapids Public Library and her amazing dedication to creating a one-of-a-kind collection of children’s book illustrations.

Of course that can’t be that big of a deal, right. I mean writers are constantly dreaming up characters and narrators for their stories whom they’ve never met or talked to. Heck, they often weren’t even real people.

But telling a rather adventurous story—that you hope teens latch on to and love—through the voice of an older, because I don’t dare say elderly, librarian isn’t going to be a walk in the park (or leisurely float down the Cedar River for that matter.) I want anyone that reads my book to be able to relate to my characters (especially my main character Noah). And so my writing will be a balancing act I think of maintaining the distinct and important voice of Evelyn while allowing readers to connect with the players in the story she tells.  

It’s a big undertaking and I am feeling up to it. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go spend some quality time with my friend Evelyn.


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