Have you ever talked to someone and gotten the feeling that you shouldn't believe what they are saying? Not because they are a bad person, but because of the way they tell the story.
Meet the Unreliable Narrator.
This Narrator cannot be trusted to relay the facts about the story truthfully. Though, often it isn't because of evil intentions.
The Unreliable Narrator is the POV that misleads.
The reason behind the Unreliable Narrator's...well...unreliableness, can differ widely depending on the needs of your story. It can be someone with a mental disability. Someone with ulterior motives, or who has something to gain from telling the story wrong. Or, someone who believes what they are saying to be absolute truth, only to find out later that they were wrong.
We're going to take a look at all three.
#1 SOMEONE WITH MENTAL DISABILITIES
Most often, the unreliable narrator takes the form of someone with a mental disability. This is especially true if they will be the POV character for most or all of the story. The character may have had the disability before the story begins, such as in The Girl on the Train, or it can be something that develops close to the start of the story, such as in Fight Club. However it happens, though, the facts of the story are then filtered through a mind that isn't all there and so the writer is given free reign to share whatever facts they want with the reader. Whether or not those facts end up being true.
#2 SOMEONE WITH SOMETHING TO GAIN
This one probably seems pretty self explanatory. A character, whether big or small, has something to gain from lying. You'll probably see this form of the Unreliable Narrator in several small roles throughout a lot of stories. Rarely do they take on the form of the main storyteller.
#3 SOMEONE WHO BELIEVES THE LIE THEMSELVES
In some stories the main character themselves start out as an unreliable narrator who relays false information to the reader. Unlike with the mentally ill narrator though, this MC believes what they say because they got the information from what they believed to be a reliable source. They have been raised on the false information. And they will believe that information until something in the story comes along to shatter their belief system.
As you can see, the Unreliable Narrator is the forerunner in the Misinformation Campaign.
This means that you can use them to sow false ideas about character's, set up believable killer plot twists, and even create an environment where the antagonist is the one telling the story.
So, if your looking for a challenging and fun POV give the Unreliable Narrator a try. :)
What do you think about this POV? Would you ever use it in your stories?
I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.