I was editing a story the other day and I became stuck. The number of variations of what I could do with each sentence stopped me in my tracks. I suppose that it’s an aspect of fear – if I make the wrong choices with the story, if I chose the wrong description, it could slow it down or even dissuade a reader from continuing on. Which, makes me even more nervous about the editing. A downward spiral of paralysis.
Then I realized something: the narrator is a character, even if it isn’t one that plays an active role in the story. The narrator has hopes, dreams, goals and so forth, even if they aren’t articulated to a great degree by the author. The narrator has a personality – chooses certain words over others, has a tone, perhaps light-hearted, sarcastic, sincere or whatever. The narrator, as obvious as it seems, has a voice. That clarified the thing that was holding me back and gave me a direction that I could work towards.
In my case, it was easy – I was using the first person POV. I made sure that the words used to describe his world and his thoughts matched his mood and personality. My narrator will focus and describe people, placed and events that interest him, not simply because they exist. My narrators will touch the world.