Staying true to the author’s intent means being able to figure
out the author’s intent. Simple enough sounding, but in reality involves using a critical eye to understand some of
the literary structures authors use to tell their stories.
Identifying the narrative focus or point of view is one of the first
clues to how a story gets told, how the setting, events, characters and dialogue are presented. Point of view determines the
position of the narrator and his/her access to a range of details, both of actions & events and characters’ consciousness.
The vast majority of both fiction and non-fiction are presented in either the 1st person or 3rd person
point of view.
A 1st person narrative is designated by the use of
“I” and can be a 1st person participant (telling their own story or one in which he/she participates)
or 1st person observer/witness (telling a story they have seen). The 1st person narrator is limited
to what they know, experience, see, overhear, extrapolate or surmise. The observer/witness
is often more objective, viewing people and events from the periphery, not from the “thick of things” as would
a central participant.
A 3rd person narrative places the narrator somewhere outside
the story proper (not locatable) and uses “he,” “she,” “it” and “they” to
refer to characters. With the omniscient point of view (used for most 3rd person fiction), the narrator
tells the story with complete freedom to relate events, report characters’ unconscious thought, feelings, motives, speech
and actions, even to move at will backward and forward in time and shift from character to character. Within this mode, you may find the intrusive narrator who comments on the action, makes value judgments,
and expresses their own moral views. Or, the objective narrator who is
more impersonal and tends to describe, report or relate what is happening.