PROMPTuesday #166: The Unreliable Narrator

Do you know those people who seem too good to be true? Or who are so extraordinary, you find yourself thinking “really?” As in “Really? You cured cancer while climbing Mt. Everest with prosthetic legs and a homeless Sherpa strapped to your back?” “Really?”


So right, I know those people, and many of them ARE good and “really”-inducing in all the right ways, but some are quite frankly, full of it.


To boot, one of my friends and a wonderful writer recently wrote me about a colleague with a website that recounts the most amazing feats. Such as “at the age of 21 she wrote a book accounting her world travels; married a Nepalese prince, piloted DC-3s over the Himalayas and out of the Congo, was imprisoned and tortured by the Greek secret police, singlehandedly saved Irish traditional crafts and arts, turned down an executive position at the UN, pioneered computer graphic arts, translated an Italian opera for the stage, spearheaded historic preservation efforts, and aided the FBI in the capture of a most-wanted criminal.”




As my friend, Aunt Snow, further emailed, “If you wrote this lady as a fictional character, editors would find it too over the top. I’m trying to figure out in my own mind WHY I can’t believe her, and I think finally I’ve got it. It’s the “unreliable narrator” concept. Everything is related in such a way to spotlight her, to overblow her achievement, to showcase her virtue, her high principles, her skills and her impact. She is never a “fly on the wall” or a mere observer; she is always in the center, the catalyst, the most important person.”


And…”so I began to wonder what REALLY happened. Was the legendary romance just a mild flirtation? Was her “assignment as a foreign correspondent” simply a freelance tourist trip? Were her brushes with cold-war intrigue simply a matter of in the wrong place at the wrong time?


Then…”I started wondering – What would MY life sound like if I wrote about it the way she writes about hers?”


So here’s today’s PROMPT, courtesy of Aunt Snow: Write in the style of an unreliable narrator. Take an unremarkable incident or phase in your life and turn it into something BIG, something over the top, something EXTRAORDINARY.


That’s right.


Lie your asses off.


Let’s go!


First time to PROMPTuesday? Read a bit about it here. Want to see what’s been written in the past? Catch up on the PROMPTuesdays archive here.


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