Telling the audience what to think

When the narrator overlays their own judgment onto a story, the audience often doesn't even notice.

But sometimes a narrator will 'pop out' of the story and start addressing the audience directly. 

We saw a little of that in the previous snippet, but here's a more overt example:

But you don’t want to be bitten by a yellow-spotted lizard. That’s the worst thing that can happen to you. You will die a slow and painful death.


If you get bitten by a yellow-spotted lizard, you might as well go into the shade of the oak trees and lie in the hammock.

There is nothing anyone can do to you anymore.


The narrator directly addresses the audience and tells them what they think:

  • The worst thing that can happen is you are bitten by a yellow-spotted lizard.
  • If that happens, there is nothing anyone can do to you, you will die.

This kind of direct address is common in oral storytelling where the narrator is there with the audience.

It's more rare in written and recorded narratives, but it does happen, most often at the beginning of a story as way to draw the audience in wrap it up and or the end of the story, as a way to send them out.

Here are a couple of examples of the narrator foregrounding themselves for the audience.

Do you think these examples would fit at the beginning or end of each of their stories?

If you're a 15th century Dutch merchant, you don't want to get caught up in neighbourhood feuds. Too many gamblers and risk-takers will want to take bets on your demise.

You need to focus your efforts on trade. Shipping and engineering, that's where it's at.

Instead of obsessing over a new hat, learn about innovations in insurance.

That's how you really make an impression.

Always keep your pool full and clean. The Pool Supply Guy will tell you that, every time. He knows you won't listen, but he tells you all the same because he knows what happens if that pool gets empty except for a mat of rotted leaves.

It opens a Gate.

And while one gate might be easy to close, if the whole neighbourhood gets lazy, then you could have dozens of gates open.

And through those gates will come an army of creatures you never, ever want to meet.

Step back from the world you've been building in this lesson, and tell the audience the big picture.

Frame it as advice: stories are about challenging situations, so what's the narrator's opinion on how to handle the situation you've been developing?

Write a snippet in which the narrator gives the audience their take on a situation.

It sounds like it, but no—because the narrator is talking in their role as narrator outside of the story, not as a character inside the story.

That's all the exercises for this lesson! Let's do a checkpoint!