Inner Monologue, Third Person Omniscient

All these memories of children's books have reminded me of how ingrained narrative was in my consciousness when I was a child. Present in my mind at all times was a narrator, observing me and telling my story at the exact same time I was acting it out, viz: I'd be walking around in the woods, stopping periodically to inspect various plants. As I did so, I'd be thinking: "She walked through the forest, stopping here and there to kneel down and contemplate plants. She saw a mayapple and wondered if fairies used them as umbrellas. She picked wildflowers and plucked the petals, saying, 'He loves me. He loves me not.' She saw a strange plant with purple leaves and suspected it must be an ingredient in a magic potion." On and on and on. Back then, I used to think I was the only one who thought in this manner. Now I wouldn't be surprised if other bibliophiles thought in that same constant narrative, maybe Krista, Cristina, Amanda, or The Little Professor. Anyone else?


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I absolutely did that, though I tended to do so more in the Mike Doonesbury, sports caster-type way.

Journey to Ithaca

Oh yeah

Geeky Mom

I so totally did that. In fact, I even wrote a poem about how I did that, called (uncreatively) "Narrative." Sometimes I did this out loud with friends, which I think made them think I was weird. I also confessed in a feminist literary seminar a few years ago that when I was a kid, I could not read books narrated by boys/men and instead read books with animals as the main characters and often, narrators. My professor felt really sorry for me. We were reading Huck Finn when I made the confession. :)

Yikes...'re absolutely right about my having the novelistic inner monologue. I thought that way all the time when I was a kid, third person and all. (I still do, from time to time. Old habits die hard.)

Amazing, she posted!

I did that. All the time. And, um, I still do, sometimes. (Now I claim it's "thinking about blogging".)



Wow, how cool that this post has gotten so much response! I wonder if any psychologists have done studies on this? What if some people narrate, but they are not the protagonists in their own stories? Not that I cast myself as some superstar or anything, but my narrative did tend to represent me in a positive light, in this benevolent, love-letter kind of way, like the narrator was an ally. I suppose that's good for self-esteem, building a positive relationship with self, etc.


I've always loved the literary trope of the unreliable narrator. And I've always thought it would be the coolest thing in the world to write a book with an unreliable omniscient narrator. But, in extending that idea from yours, Clancy, well, to have an internalized unreliable omniscient narrator reporting on what one does -- uh-oh, that might be asking for trouble.


I can't imagine how you would

I can't imagine how you wouldn't be your own protagonist. I'm not sure my narrator was always allied, and it was an unreliable one, I think. I'm having trouble figuring out what I said. It was certainly third person, and narrated my actions and thoughts. I forget how dialogue worked.

And I love my icon, by the way. Thank you.



...that would be a "no," or "not that I can remember." Of course, one can't limit "narrative" to "third person narrative"---but if I ever had a "narrative" it would always be first person, and often in the conditional mood or future tense (often called daydreaming). I am however fascinated by narratives and what makes them so compelling and I think often about this. When I want to put together a story now, as an adult woman, it's just incredibly hard; yet there are plenty of authors who seem to have an uncanny ability to unravel hundreds of pages of narrative and keep you hungry for more. To me, completing a compelling narrative is nothing short of a miracle. I can barely keep up with blogging....

Some Thoughts

2 Board Alley
A long time ago, Doonesbury did a strip on the narrator and I remember Mike D. saying something about the narrator fading away with adulthood.
My narrator was third person, and I tended pretend to be a character in a book interacting with the family--kind of like Snoopy as the World War One Flying Ace. I'd be walking around the house being Heidi and pretending that our cat was a mountain goat and my brother Peter, while "narrating" to myself: "She walked into the room where the strangers[Mom and Dad's cocktail party] from the town[the embassy] had come to visit. Obeying Grandfather [our maid, Claire], Heidi offered fresh slices of cheese [on a fancy tray, surrounded by shrimp and other goodies] to the guests who were famished [drunk]and grateful[drunk] for the feast[liquor].

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