One of the Facets of Fiction that I’ve made a point of teaching – if that’s the right word – over the last decade, has been that of the narrative voice.

It’s not something specific to short stories, but to the short story it is critical. Short stories are in the lineage of anecdotes and tales: they predate the written and printed story, and are told – not shown – by somebody, to somebody else – to several somebodies simultaneously perhaps.

There are several implications to that telling. That the teller has a purpose (never travel without a porpoise – Lewis Carroll) is probably the most obvious, and possibly the most important. Another implication is that the teller will have a time and place in mind for the telling, and an appropriate voice – think Hyacinth Bucket’s phone voice. They might also, I think, match the story, and the telling to the imagined listener or reader.

But there’s another factor, easily forgotten, behind this created narration, and that is we ourselves. The author, masked, rather than killed off, remains the person who has imagined – or remembered- it all: narrator, telling, story. It’s worth reflecting on the fact that how the author does that gives us a mirror image of what he, or she, truly is. Ultimately, we are the ones who believe the story is worth telling, and who have at least an inkling of why that might be.

BFB coverBHD’s collection of longer (for him!) stories The Man Who Found A Barrel Full of Beer is available here.

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