Much of your book will depend on which point of view your story is told from. Knowing your characters and the narrative that you’re spinning will help you more adequately choose your point of view. Whether it’s first, second, or third person, carefully choosing your point of view will save you from having to correct your mistake later on.

Today’s narration style is: Roaming Narrator, as seen in Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth. 

Roaming Narrator

The roaming narrator is something I hadn’t seen before reading PoE. To recap, one of the most popular narration styles is third person – omniscient, in which the story is told simply by being told and everything, (to the narrator, but not to the characters) is known. There is no real narrator, either, it is simply, “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four Privet Drive were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

The roaming narrator is a little bit different than this. Because PoE is set mainly in the town of Kingsbridge, the narration is able to keep up with characters by playing a game of tag. For instance, it will follow Philip and say, “Philip was on a horse, and on his way out of Kingsbridge, he saw what looked like two beggars on the road.” This is immediately followed up with, “Richard and Aliena were walking toward Kingsbridge, and they saw a monk on a horse.”

Because the novel is a sprawling 973 pages, this technique allows for a view of what everyone is doing at different times throughout the kingdom without having to bring a main character to another to see what’s going on. It also makes for great drama once all these divergent storylines and competing interests that the readers have gotten invested in are packed together in a tiny space (i.e. when all characters end up at Kingsbridge.)

Why Narration Style Matters

Pillars of the Earth works best with the roaming narration style because it features a host of characters who all need to be fleshed out individually, and they can’t do that in the presence of all the other ones. This creates a deep level of interest in all the characters because they are seen how they view themselves and not simply through the eyes of the protagonist, and this style heightens drama by pulling divergent storylines together for an impactful ending.

Enjoy and keep writing!

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Photographer: Harvey Barrison