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# Episode 43 - Unreliable Narrators

## Works in Progress

[00:30] Eric had a meeting with a book doctor on *Prince of Pigeon Hill*, so he spend some time reviewing the book again. Working on *FreeFall*, his Battletech short story as well.

John is writing *Drone Syndicate* and is filling in a Story Grid for it. He decided he needed to start the story earlier in time than he originally plan. This is the second time he's moved the start of the story earlier in time.

Mike's been plugging away at his short stories. He has one finished first draft, and a second one in the middle of the first draft. Additional stories are in very stages of planning. The website for the stories hasn't launched yet either.

## Reading Spotlight

[03:25] John is close to finishing [Devil's Vortex (Deathlands)]( by James Axler. He's also still reading [Organized Crime in Chicago - Beyond the Mafia]( by Robert M. Lombardo as research.

Eric is reading [Deep Work]( by Cal Newport, but is running into a little fear in implementing the concepts for the book. He needs to do things in baby steps. He's still reading [Silk Road]( by Colin Falconer. The book has a lot of grammatical errors, and if Eric is noticing, there must be a lot of them. The chapters are really short.

Mike finished [Deep Work](
He's going to try and put some of the techniques into practice, especially the idea of "productive meditation" which is:

> When you're physically occupied with something like driving, walking, showering and you focus your attention on a single task.

Mike is this while on the treadmill. Instead of listening to podcasts he will think about a project.
Mike started [Famine (Book one of the Apocalyptics)]( by Monica Enderle Pierce. It's a good book, but he doesn't enjoy having to read the book with a dictionary in tow. For example, "seraphic countenance" and "she'd sashayed into the foyer and smiled like she'd eaten a puppy".

## What's happening online

### Neil Gaiman's Library
[11:38] Gizmodo has posted photos of Neil Gaiman's library. He has books from floor to ceiling and it's quite impressive. [Take a Peek Inside Neil Gaiman's Library](

### Police Sketches
While there's an uproar over the casting of a black woman as the adult Hermoine Granger, there's serious investigative work to be done with literary characters. The Chive posted some images from a project by artist Brian Joseph Davis called [Composites]( Davis tooks crowdsourced descriptions of characters from literature and created police sketches of them using the same software police departments use to identify suspects. [Police sketches of literary characters based on their book description](

### 10 Women Who Changed Sci-Fi
[10 Women Who Changed Sci-Fi](

### Gamut Magazine

[Gamut Magazine]( is a Kickstarter to publish different types of fiction in a digital magazine. This is a lot like [Mothership Zeta]([Mothership Zeta]( (mentioned in Writing That Pays, Episode 13).

### 42 Writing Contests

[42 Writing Contests in February With No entry fees]( There are a number of contests, including essays, short fiction, novels, with prizes from $100 to $10,000. There are some geographic and age restrictions.

Mike's favorite is the Penny Fiction Flash Fiction Competition. Stories told in exactly 16 words with a prize of $25, which works out to $1.56/word!

### Method Writing

[Could 'method writing' be the future for novelists?]( Thomas W Hodgkinson says he wrote the bulk of his novel, Memoirs of a Stalker, while lying on his back in one of the cupboards of his home to get into the mindset of his character. The character breaks into his ex-girlfriend's house and lives there for months without her knowing. Hodgkinson didn't have room in the cupboard for his laptop, so he wrote on his mobile phone. As part of Hodgkinson's attempts to get the Method Writers project off the ground, he and fellow author Alexander Fiske-Harrison are offering a series of one-day courses in March, which he says will aim to teach aspiring writers about the benefits of the technique. [The Act of Writing](

## Tech Focus - Tiki-Toki

[16:50] [Tiki-Toki]( lets you create beautiful timelines to share on the internet. It allows you to create a single, free timeline or multiple timelines with a subscription. The 3D view looks like a version of Guitar Hero. Some of the user interface is a little kludgy. The PDF export isn't that great.

Eric asked why you aren't just spending your time writing instead of creating a timeline in a tool like this. John thought that historical fiction benefits the author by having a good view of the events surrounding the story. Tiki-Toki would also be a good tool to provide a timeline of context for the readers as an add-on or extra feature for a story. As a sales pitch for the book and marketing this is a nice.

## Craft Talk - Unreliable Narrators
[24:14] Eric had a one-hour consultation with Arielle at [The Book Doctors]( to discuss *Prince of Pigeon Hill*. The consultation was full of great information for Eric to apply to the novel. She asked for the first five pages of the novel and Eric's query letter. On the phone, they reviewed the responses from the agents. She liked the beginning and though the story started at the right place. One of her pieces of advice was for Eric to tighten up the beginning of the story. Instead of explicitly telling what the character was thinking and feeling, it should have been hinted at. There wasn't a tension between the main and secondary characters introduced in the story. When Eric described the story, it became clear that the secondary character, Carl, is an unreliable narrator. But Eric needs to turn up the prose to make that more clear.

What is an [unreliable narrator](

> A character who tells the reader a story that cannot be taken at face value.

Readers do not always understand that a narrator is not the final voice of truth and authority. They may even confuse the narrator with the author.

[10 of Literature's Most Unreliable Narrators](
* The unnamed narrator in Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk - The "big reveal makes us question everything we’ve been told."
* House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski - "multiple narrators, imaginary footnotes and conflicting information"
* Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis - "Never trust a demon with a story to tell"

Randy Ingermanson said in [On Writing a Novel with an Unreliable Narrator](

> "If you’re going to use an unreliable narrator, it’s important to get yourself fully inside the skin of the character. You need to understand exactly what makes him tick and how he thinks and why he’s slightly out of touch with reality. "

[Goodreads List of Novels with Unreliable Narrator](