Carrying on from what I was talking about yesterday. I have been thinking a lot over the last couple of weeks about narrative technique in fiction – and a lot of these thoughts equally apply to non-fiction writing. The most important decision you can make as a writer – and it doesn’t have to be the first decision you make, it may even be a decision that creeps up on you and appears to make itself – is the way in which you position the reader in relation to the text, and what is going on in the text. It’s much more than just the conventional triad presented to us in ‘Eng Lit’ classes at school, of first person narrator, third person narrator, and omniscient narrator (the last two closely intertwined and often co-existing). Take, for instance, the decision taken by Hilary Mantell in Wolf Hall to speak of her protagonist, Thomas Cromwell, in the third person throughout the narrative, but only showing events and revealing thoughts and feelings from Cromwell’s point of view. It has an odd effect of drawing the reader in and distancing them at the same time, as if the reader is looking over Cromwell’s shoulder, but without the smug ‘pat on the head’ effect often associated with an omniscient narrator – something I’ll come back to later.