Wet Ink Press Publishing Services: Repost

22 01 2013

Wet Ink Press Publishing Services is Now Open

 Wet Ink Press Publishing Services provides publishing services to eBook authors at a low price. We provide book design, editing, formatting, and ePublishing conversion services to authors looking to self publish. Authors can purchase individual services or one of our packages.

Wet Ink Press Publishing Services loves helping all authors create the eBook they have always dreamed about creating, and we can’t wait to help you! We provide:

  • Formatting conversion services
  • Editing Services
  • Book Cover Design

Purchase individual services or one of our packages and get your ebook publishing dreams started.

Wet Ink Press Publishing Services is open M-F from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Learn more about us at http://www.wetinkpresspublishing.com Email wetinkpresspublisher@gmail.com to get help with your eBook.


21 01 2013

5 Agents Seeking New Clients [Reposted from Writers Digest]

18 01 2013
Here are five literary agents currently looking to sign new writers (and where you can find more).
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WD January 18, 2013

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5 Agents Seeking New Clients

When trying to get your manuscript published, it’s often beneficial to have an agent on your side. Agents not only have connections within the publishing industry but they also read hundreds of proposals a year, giving them better perspective of what will sell and what won’t. They often offer suggestions and advice on how to get your manuscript into publishable shape (whether that’s change a character, introduce an additional storyline, or start the story in a different spot, etc.).

One of the best resources for finding an agent is the Guide to Literary Agents, which is the bible for finding representation-heck, it helped me find and land my agent. It features spot-on advice on how to approach querying and has more than 500 agent listings, including what types of books they are looking for, how each one wants you to pitch them and more.

GLA editor Chuck Sambuchino gives you a sneak peek on his GLA blog, posting his popular new agent alerts, highlighting up-and-coming agents and agents that have recently moved to new agencies. More important, all of them are looking for new clients. Here are five agents whom he’s featured and who are looking to sign new writers:

1. Brittany Howard of Corvisiero Literary Agency

She is seeking: Her first love is YA- from High Fantasy to Paranormal to to soft Sci-Fi to Contemporary- she loves all young adult. She also likes high concept, adventure themed, and funny MG, but a strong voice is MUST for her in MG. She’s willing to look at Picture Books, but is very selective.
Find out more about Brittany and how to submit to her here.

2. Margaret Bail of Andrea Hurst & Associates

She is seeking: adult fiction only. Specifically, she seeks romance, science fiction, thrillers, action/adventure, historical fiction, Western, fantasy (think Song of Fire and Ice or Dark Tower, NOT Lord of the Rings or Chronicles of Narnia).
Find out more about Margaret and how to submit to her here.

3. Samantha Dighton of D4EO Literary

She is seeking: Sam is looking for character-driven stories with strong voice. She likes characters who are relatable yet flawed, vibrant settings that take on a life of their own, and a story that lasts well beyond the final page, generally falling within these categories: Literary fiction, Historical fiction, Mystery/suspense, Magical realism, Psychological thrillers, Young adult (realistic) and Narrative nonfiction.
Find out more about Samantha and how to submit to her here.

4. Andy Scheer of Hartline Literary Agency

He is seeking: “I’m looking for a select few, outstanding projects that grab me and won’t let me go until I place them with a publisher. For fiction, this means a memorable blend of characters, setting, and storyline-delivered with carefully crafted prose. For nonfiction, a unique way of addressing a real need with an authority readers will recognize. And for both, the individual’s desire to grow in the craft of writing and to undertake the required discipline to promote their work for others’ benefit.”
Find out more about Andy and how to submit to him here.

5. Jennifer Udden of the Donald Maass Literary Agency

She is seeking: science fiction, fantasy, and mysteries – and is particularly interested in finding works that creatively combine aspects of all three genres.
Find out more about Jennifer and how to submit to her here.

For more news and information about agents, I highly recommend checking out the Guide to Literary Agents Blog and getting a copy of the 2013 Guide to Literary Agents. Both are extremely valuable resources and, without them, I may never have been able to land my agent (or secure a book deal).

Cover Wars

8 01 2013

Cyndi Faria, Author

Cover wars: All about promising to meet a reader’s needs.

Cover contests and the growing number of cover designers competing for an author’s business are sure signs of the ever-increasing importance of cover art. With so many fiction books available to readers, can you guarantee your book stands out from the rest?

Yes! A novel’s success can be partially attributed to how well the cover images capture PRIMAL DESIRES.

Abraham Maslow, PhD in Psychology, first described primal desires in his Hierarchy of Needs (read more here). Summarized, the hierarchy begins with a human’s most basic needs: physiological, followed by safety and security, love and belonging, and, lastly, esteem.

In an attempt to capture a book’s contents by way of cover design, consider incorporating what Dollars and Sense: The Definitive Guide to Self-Publishing Success describes as the primal motivation that aids survival: fear, fight, fornication, and food.

Or the Hierarchy of Needs restated as the…

View original post 119 more words

Price Reduced! Seller Motivated!

7 01 2013

T. W. Dittmer

If you follow me at all, you’ve seen my About Me page and have an inkling of the vast wealth at my disposal.

So you see, I’m not in this to make money. I sure won’t turn it down, but at this stage of my life, that’s just not what I’m about.

This writing gig is all an experiment to me, and as part of the ongoing experiment, the price of my debut novel, The Valley Walker, has been reduced to 99 cents.

Okay. Take it easy, now. Take a breath. Don’t hyperventilate.

You can purchase The Valley Walker at:

All-righty then. Let’s just see what happens.

View original post

Q & A with the Chicago Manual of Style [Repost from CMS Online]

7 01 2013


Q. I am editing a professor’s CV. In many cases, he gives two years for an article he has published. He gives the year corresponding to the issue number, as well as the year the issue was actually published. What is the correct way to include this information in a citation?

A. It’s not conventional to mention the year an article was printed, although an exception might be made if a publication was delayed many years or appeared in advance of the issue date, or if the timing of the printing was critical to some development in the discipline. Otherwise, it’s potentially confusing and unhelpful to have two dates. Libraries and online databases use the publication date, not the printing date. If your professor can’t defend his inclusion of the printing date, devise a style that is crystal clear, such as “(printed in 2012).”

Q. For text following a long block quotation, is it a must to indent, even if adding a single line? It seems confusing (visually) to do so.

A. Indent only if you are starting a new paragraph. If the text continues the paragraph that precedes the block quotation, then it should begin with no indent. Please see CMOS 13.22 (“Text following a block quotation”).

Q. I’m working on a document that has a glossary of terms, and for the first instance of each glossary term in the text there is a footnote saying that the word is defined in the glossary. I find this awkward, especially when there are three glossary terms in one small paragraph—it’s cluttered and distracting. I’d rather drop the footnotes and instead mention in the foreword or overview that the document has a glossary.

A. As you suggest, this method is not only awkward—it’s irritating. Even just the presence of “Glossary” in the table of contents can suffice, although a mention in the foreword is also a good idea.

Q. Browsing both the 15th and 16th editions for citation rules, I don’t see instruction on how to cite live performance. Given that performance studies, dance/theater criticism, and musicology/ethnomusicology are established disciplines, and that observing live performance is a necessary research method, I don’t see why that source (and its creators/producers) should not be cited.

A. It’s not that Chicago rejects live performance as a legitimate source; there simply isn’t room for examples of every kind. If live performances are the backbone of your research, the lack of a citation form in CMOS should not prevent you from citing them. You can mimic the standard order of citation elements (name, title, place, date) or order them in a way that makes sense for your work, such as chronologically for works by the same person.

Q. My boss likes to dictate letters using what I refer to as declarative or emphatic speech: “She did go to the store and she did buy that hat. I did tell her that it was a lovely hat.” I have never seen text typed in this manner and generally edit it to “She went to the store and bought that hat. I told her that it was a lovely hat.” Which is correct?

A. There’s nothing incorrect about your boss’s construction, but even perfect grammar can be distracting and annoying. I’ve noticed this usage particularly in flight-attendant speech. (“We do expect to be landing shortly.” “We do ask you to return your seat to its upright position.”) You should feel confident editing out the extraneous emphasis.

Q. I understand how in proofreading (as opposed to copyediting) you write only the proofreaders’ marks in the text, with corrections and operations in the margins (such as writing a caret in the text to indicate insertion, but putting the letter to be inserted in the margin, not above the caret), as in fig. 2.7 of CMOS 16. But is there some protocol as to which notations go in which margin? Do they all go in the left margin, or do you split them up evenly between left and right?

A. As long as they are readable and in left-to-right order, it doesn’t matter how you divide corrections between the two margins.

Q. I am editing a large academic textbook where the authors have at least six different native languages, none of which are English. We have hit a bit of a hitch when it comes to proper nouns. In most cases, they all agree that we should use the English spelling, but some of them have strong feelings about using the spelling in the original language in other cases. What are the Chicago guidelines regarding use of original spelling versus anglicized spelling in academic manuscripts?

A. We prefer consistency and clarity, however you achieve it. As the editor, you should wrangle the authors into agreement. If the chapters have different authors, you can choose to observe consistency within but not across chapters. Agree on (or dictate) a specific reference work (such as a dictionary or encyclopedia of place-names) as a default. Negotiate a list of exceptions from each author and add them to your style sheet. Please see CMOS 8.46 and sections thereabouts for more advice.

Q. Do footnotes have to be double-spaced and the same size font as the text? It just does not look right!

A. In Chicago style, yes. Remember that traditionally manuscripts are prepared for someone to edit on paper, if necessary. Manuscripts are not meant to “look right” if that means looking like a published article or book. The type should be large enough for easy reading, and there should be enough space between the lines for copyediting. (If the manuscript will be edited electronically, the editor can easily change the format, of course, and none of this matters.) When material is typeset in a book or journal, the notes are usually reduced in size and printed single-space—and then they will look right to you.

Q. I am editing an article for publication. The author is discussing a Yiddish tale entitled Simkhe Plakhte. The title is also the name of the central character in this tale, and the author also uses it as a genre, as in “the basic narrative elements of the Simkhe Plakhte tale.” Should “Simkhe Plakhte” be treated as a title and italicized, or is it used as a general term? In general, if a writer uses the title of a folktale as a genre, does it need to be treated as a title?

A. It’s usual to use italics for a title but roman for a genre or character. There are times when it doesn’t matter which you choose: you can read the Harry Potter books or the Harry Potter books. For these gray areas, pick a default style and note it in your style sheet.

Q. An editor for a journal using the CMOS 15th edition has changed all of my plural possessives (patients’ suffering, positivists’ project) to, e.g., patients’s suffering, positivists’s project. This is incorrect. The former, not the latter, is correct. Yes?

A. The former is correct—and let’s hope this was just one of those momentary brain misfires that even the best editors occasionally suffer. Please see CMOS 7.15 (7.17 in the 15th edition).

December Q&A

Q. When did calendar come into common US use as a verb? I always find it difficult to obey when asked to calendar an upcoming meeting, because I hear calender (comes from cylinder), the act of moving paper between two rollers to smooth its surface.

A. It’s possible you aren’t the only person who, when faced with an upcoming meeting, imagines smashing the agenda to bits, but I’m guessing that among US workers calendar is far more familiar than calenderMerriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary tells us thatcalendar has been a transitive verb since the fifteenth century—plenty of time for it to catch on in the States. A superficial search of the verb forms calendared and calendaring at Google Books’ Ngram Viewer shows their usage in American English beginning in the early nineteenth century.

Q. A client asked CMOS about capitalizing coach when it was used as a nickname. They got the following in reply:

Yes, it’s conventional to cap words like Coach or Captain or Auntie when they stand in for a person’s name. If you refer to “a coach” or “the coach” or “my aunt” or “the captain of the ship” in a sentence, however, it is lowercased.

I would have thought that Captain would be considered a title and come under the general rules in 8.18 and not be capitalized other than in direct address—likewise Auntie ought to come under the kinship exception in 8.35 and would be capitalized. As coach is a title, and includes no name, I was lowercasing it other than in direct address. Please advise if this is incorrect.

A. Your client’s information is correct. If a person is called Coach in place of his or her name, then anytime the word coach is substituted for that name it should be capped. To decide, see whether an actual name would fit in the same sentence. If it fits, cap coach as a name:

“Hi, Coach!” / “Hi, Jim!” (The name works as a substitute, so cap Coach.)

I saw the coach smile and wave / I saw the Jim smile and wave. (The name does not work as a substitute, so lowercase coach.)

I saw Captain Smith smile and wave / I saw Sally Smith smile and wave. (The name works, so cap Captain.)

I think her aunt is a bookie / I think her June is a bookie. (Lowercase aunt.)

It doesn’t matter what the word is: captain, coach, aunt, joker, brain. If it’s used in place of a name, cap it.

Q. Section 9.38 seems pretty straightforward: “Times of day in even, half, and quarter hours are usually spelled out in text.” I’m an editor on contract with one of the larger self-publishing companies. I recently got this note from an editorial staffer: “In several instances, you changed references like 1:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. to one a.m. and ten p.m. . . . If you have found specific Chicago rules to support the changes you’ve made, please let me know and I’ll be happy to pass the manuscript through as is. However, I don’t know of a rule that would allow that. If you don’t know of one either, would you please change the time references with a.m. and p.m. back to numeral form and resend?” For seven years, I’ve been spelling out times of day ending with :00, :15, :30, and :45, with or without a.m./p.m., if they did not seem particularly significant in context. This is the first time it has been called into question.

A. Your correspondent is correct; expressions like “one a.m.” are not Chicago style. Better to write “1:00 a.m.” or “one in the morning,” depending on whether you mean the time exactly or not, respectively.

Q. I have an examiner of a doctoral thesis criticizing footnotes because they renumber at every new chapter, starting at 1. Presumably he wants them to flow from one (1) to the last number sequentially through the entire thesis. Who is right?

A. Many universities have strict rules and formats for dissertations, so it’s possible that the examiner had no choice in the matter. Almost all the books that we publish at the University of Chicago restart the numbering of notes (whether footnotes or endnotes) at 1 at the beginning of each chapter. Rarely do the notes number all the way through a book. That said, there’s no single “correct” way; it’s simply a matter of style.

Q. I’ve been coming across this construction using the verb help: helping our patients be home for the holidays; knowing that we have helped so many people be home for the holidays. I recognize the usage; it’s common in my region. But I’ve been recommending to be homeas the grammatically unimpeachable (and to my ear better) choice. I haven’t found a discussion of the matter anywhere. I would appreciate a recommendation.

A. The omission of to in constructions with help is also unimpeachable. In fact, often the addition of to would impart an unreasonably stilted or formal tone: Let me help you to reach that. Please take a look at CMOS 5.104.

Q. I’m editing a paper that compares entries in two eighteenth-century French dictionaries. The author has included headwords—both French and English—in all caps throughout the paper. This is fatiguing, especially in long lists of entries in running text. Does Chicago style recommend a format for referring to headwords in running text?

A. I’m afraid CMOS isn’t that specific. If the paper is going to be published, the copyeditor, writer, and designer will likely consult over the typographical treatment of elements like this. In preparation, you might ask the writer to submit examples of quoted headwords from other sources on the topic.

Q. I seem to find conflicting information, and I can’t figure out the following: is it OK or not to introduce a block quotation with an incomplete sentence (such as “The passage states”) followed by a colon? Or does the sentence have to be a complete sentence?

A. Either way is fine. (In fact, “The passage states” is complete—or independent—on its own. “The passage states that” is incomplete.) Independent clauses usually require some end punctuation; incomplete ones often do not. Please see the examples at CMOS 13.11–21.

Q. Does hyphenation render a diaeresis redundant? Because it wrapped to another line, the word naïveté was rendered as na-ïveté.  Should this appear in print as na-iveté?

A. No. Hyphenation imposed at line breaks in typesetting should be regarded as temporary and invisible rather than part of the word. You can bet that if a proofreader were to remove that diaeresis, in the next round someone else’s correction would cause the word to end up whole again. Better to leave well enough alone.

Q. Do I treat “as and when required” with a suspended hyphen when adjectival? E.g.: “an as- and when-required basis.” Or join up: “an as-and-when-required basis.” Unfortunately, we’re stuck with transcribing substantially verbatim legislative debates.

A. Ick. If you were able to reword this construction, you could simply write “when required.” But since you’re stuck, it’s probably better to quote the offending phrase than wrangle with hyphens: an “as and when required” basis.

Q. Is it proper writing to start a sentence using a coordinating conjunction in a quotation? “Her dress is ugly,” said Jane. “But please don’t tell her I said that.”

A. Of course—as long as it reflects the intention of the writer. Your construction indicates a firm pause in Jane’s speech, with the effect that the second half reads like an afterthought. Using a comma and lowercasing “but” could leave open the possibility that Jane spoke without a significant pause, in which case the second half would come across as Jane’s main point: “Her dress is ugly,” said Jane, “but please don’t tell her I said that.”

Q. When I entered an incorrect password for your website, I received this message: “Invalid Log In.” Shouldn’t “log in” be “login” in this case?

A. In a world where CMOS editors could stand with whips and chains over all the IT teams who write code for error messages for all the software packagers who supply all the websites, everything would be written consistently in Chicago style. As it is, however, CMOS editors have no such power. And quite honestly? We’re fine with that.

Unreliable Narrator

6 01 2013

An unreliable narrator is a narrator, whether in literature, film, or theatre, whose credibility has been seriously compromised. The term was coined in 1961 by Wayne C. Booth in The Rhetoric of Fiction.  This narrative mode is one that can be developed by an author for a number of reasons, usually to deceive the reader or audience. Most often unreliable narrators are first-person narrators, but sometimes third-person narrators can also be unreliable.

The nature of the narrator is sometimes immediately clear. For instance, a story may open with the narrator making a plainly false or delusional claim or admitting to being severely mentally ill, or the story itself may have a frame in which the narrator appears as a character, with clues to his or her unreliability. A more dramatic use of the device delays the revelation until near the story’s end. This twist ending forces readers to reconsider their point of view and experience of the story. In some cases the narrator’s unreliability is never fully revealed but only hinted at, leaving readers to wonder how much the narrator should be trusted and how the story should be interpreted.

An exception is an event that did not or could not happen, told within the fictionalized historical novelsspeculative fiction, or clearly delineated dream sequences. Narrators describing them are not being considered unreliable.

Attempts have been made at a classification of unreliable narrators William Riggan analysed in his study discernible types of unreliable narrators, focusing on the first-person narrator as this is the most common kind of unreliable narration. Adapted from his findings is the following list:

  • The Pícaro: a narrator who is characterized by exaggeration and bragging, the first example probably being the soldier in Plautus’s comedy Miles Gloriosus. Examples in modern literature are Moll FlandersSimplicius Simplicissimus or Felix Krull.
  • The Madman: A narrator who has severe mental illness such as schizophrenia or paranoia. Examples include Poe’s Montresor in The Cask of Amontillado, Barbara Covett in Notes on a Scandal, or Patrick Bateman in American Psycho.
  • The Clown: A narrator who does not take narrations seriously and consciously plays with conventions, truth and the reader’s expectations. Examples of the type include Tristram Shandy.
  • The Naíf: A narrator whose perception is immature or limited through their point of view. Examples include Huckleberry Finn or Holden Caulfield
  • The Liar: A mature narrator of sound cognition who deliberately misrepresents himself, often to obscure his unseemly or discreditable past conduct. John Dowell in Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier exemplifies this kind of narrator, as does Stevens in Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day.

This typology is surely not exhaustive and cannot claim to cover the whole spectrum of unreliable narration in its entirety or even only the first-person narrator. Further research in this area has been called for. A so-called “tough” (cynical) narrator and his self-talk – in which he is unreliably describing his own emotions – is characteristic of Noir fiction and Hardboiled fiction.

It also still remains a matter of debate whether and how a non first-person narrator can be unreliable.

Wayne C. Booth was the earliest who formulated a reader-centered approach to unreliable narration and distinguished between a reliable and unreliable narrator on the grounds of whether the narrator’s speech violates or conforms with general norms and values. “I have called a narrator reliable when he speaks for or acts in accordance with the norms of the work (which is to say the implied author’s norms), unreliable when he does not.” Peter J. Rabinowitz criticized Booth’s definition for relying too much on the extradiegetic facts such as norms and ethics, which must necessarily be tainted by personal opinion. He consequently modified the approach to unreliable narration.

There are unreliable narrators (c.f. Booth). An unreliable narrator however, is not simply a narrator who ‘does not tell the truth’ – what fictional narrator ever tells the literal truth? Rather an unreliable narrator is one who tells lies, conceals information, misjudges with respect to the narrative audience – that is, one whose statements are untrue not by the standards of the real world or of the authorial audience but by the standards of his own narrative audience. […] In other words, all fictional narrators are false in that they are imitations. But some are imitations who tell the truth, some of people who lie.[6]

Rabinowitz’ main focus is the status of fictional discourse in opposition to factuality. He debates the issues of truth in fiction, bringing forward four types of audience who serve as receptors of any given literary work:

  1. “Actual audience” (= the flesh-and-blood people who read the book)
  2. “Authorial audience” (= hypothetical audience to whom the author addresses their text)
  3. “Narrative audience” (= imitation audience which also possesses particular knowledge)
  4. “Ideal narrative audience” (= uncritical audience who accepts what the author is saying)

Rabinowitz suggests that “In the proper reading of a novel, then, events which are portrayed must be treated as both ‘true’ and ‘untrue’ at the same time. Although there are many ways to understand this duality, I propose to analyze the four audiences which it generates.”[7] Similarly, Tamar Yacobi has proposed a model of five criteria (‘integrating mechanisms’) which determine if a narrator is unreliable.[8] Instead of relying on the device of the implied author and a text-centered analysis of unreliable narration, Ansgar Nünning gives evidence that narrative unreliability can be reconceptualized in the context of frame theory and of readers’ cognitive strategies.

[…] to determine a narrator’s unreliability one need not rely merely on intuitive judgments. It is neither the reader’s intuitions nor the implied author’s norms and values that provide the clue to a narrator’s unreliability, but a broad range of definable signals. These include both textual data and the reader’s preexisting conceptual knowledge of the world. In sum whether a narrator is called unreliable or not does not depend on the distance between the norms and values of the narrator and those of the implied author but between the distance that separates the narrator’s view of the world from the reader’s world-model and standards of normality.

Unreliable Narration in this view becomes purely a reader’s strategy of making sense of a text, i.e. of reconciling discrepancies in the narrator’s account (cf. signals of unreliable narration). Nünning thus effectively eliminates the reliance on value judgments and moral codes which are always tainted by personal outlook and taste.

Greta Olson recently debated both Nünning’s and Booth’s models, revealing discrepancies in their respective views.

[…] Booth’s text-immanent model of narrator unreliability has been criticized by Ansgar Nünning for disregarding the reader’s role in the perception of reliability and for relying on the insufficiently defined concept of the implied author. Nünning updates Booth’s work with a cognitive theory of unreliability that rests on the reader’s values and her sense that a discrepancy exists between the narrator’s statements and perceptions and other information given by the text.

and offers “[…] an update of Booth’s model by making his implicit differentiation between fallible and untrustworthy narrators explicit.”

Olson then argues “[…] that these two types of narrators elicit different responses in readers and are best described using scales for fallibility and untrustworthiness.” She proffers that all fictional texts that employ the device of unreliability can best be considered along a spectrum of fallibility that begins with trustworthiness and ends with unreliability. This model allows for all shades of grey in between the poles of trustworthiness and unreliability. It is consequently up to each individual reader to determine the credibility of a narrator in a fictional text.

Whichever definition of unreliability one follows, there are a number of signs that constitute or at least hint at a narrator’s unreliability. Nünning has suggested to divide these signals into three broad categories.

  • Intratextual signs such as the narrator contradicting himself, having gaps in memory, or lying to other characters
  • Extratextual signs such as contradicting the reader’s general world knowledge or impossibilities (within the parameters of logic)
  • Reader’s Literary Competence. This includes the reader’s knowledge about literary types (e.g. stock characters that reappear over centuries), knowledge about literary genres and its conventions or stylistic devices

One of the earliest uses of unreliability in literature is Plautus‘ comedy Miles Gloriosus (2–3 century BC), which features a soldier who constantly embellishes his accomplishments. The literary device of the “unreliable narrator” was used in several medieval fictional Arabic tales of the One Thousand and One Nights, also known as the Arabian Nights. In one tale, “The Seven Viziers”, a courtesanaccuses a king’s son of having assaulted her, when in reality she had failed to seduce him (inspired by the Biblical/Qur’anic story of Yusuf/Joseph). Seven viziers attempt to save his life by narrating seven stories to prove the unreliability of the courtesan, and the courtesan responds by narrating a story to prove the unreliability of the viziers. The unreliable narrator device is also used to generate suspense in another Arabian Nights tale, “The Three Apples“, an early murder mystery. At one point of the story, two men claim to be the murderer, one of whom is revealed to be lying. At another point in the story, in a flashback showing the reasons for the murder, it is revealed that an unreliable narrator convinced the man of his wife’s infidelity, thus leading to her murder.

Another early example of unreliable narration is Geoffrey Chaucer‘s The Canterbury Tales. In “The Merchant’s Tale” for example, the narrator, being unhappy in his marriage, allows his misogynistic bias to slant much of his tale. In “The Wife of Bath“, the Wife often makes inaccurate quotations and incorrectly remembers stories.

Wilkie Collins‘ early detective story The Moonstone (1868) is an early example of the unreliable narrator in crime fiction. The plot of the novel unfolds through several narratives by different characters, which contradict each other and reveal the biases of the narrators. A controversial example of an unreliable narrator occurs in Agatha Christie‘s novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, where the narrator hides essential truths in the text (mainly through evasion, omission, and obfuscation) without ever overtly lying. Many readers at the time felt that the plot twist at the climax of the novel was nevertheless unfair. Christie used the concept again in her 1967 novel Endless Night.

Many novels are narrated by children, whose inexperience can impair their judgment and make them unreliable. In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), Huck‘s innocence leads him to make overly charitable judgments about the characters in the novel.

Ken Kesey‘s two most famous novels feature unreliable narrators. “Chief” Bromden in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest suffers from schizophrenia, and his telling of the events often includes things such as people growing or shrinking, walls oozing with slime, or the orderlies kidnapping and “curing” Santa Claus. Narration in Sometimes a Great Notion switches between several of the main characters, whose bias tends to switch the reader’s sympathies from one person to another, especially in the rivalry between main character Leland and Hank Stamper. Many of Susan Howatch‘s novels similarly use this technique; each chapter is narrated by a different character, and only after reading chapters by each of the narrators does the reader realize each of the narrators has biases and “blind spots” that cause them to perceive shared experiences differently.

Humbert Humbert, the main character and narrator of Vladimir Nabokov‘s Lolita, often tells the story in such a way as to justify his pedophilic fixation on young girls, in particular his sexual relationship with his 12-year-old stepdaughter. Similarly, the narrator of A. M. Homes‘ The End of Alice deliberately withholds the full story of the crime that put him in prison – the rape of a young girl, and subsequent murder of a man – until the end of the novel.

In some instances, unreliable narration can bring about the fantastic in works of fiction. In Kingsley Amis‘ The Green Man, for example, the unreliability of the narrator Maurice Allington destabilizes the boundaries between reality and the fantastic. The same applies to Nigel Williams’s WitchcraftAn Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears also employs several points of view from narrators whose accounts are found to be unreliable and in conflict with each other.

Mike Engleby, the narrator of Sebastian Faulks‘ Engleby, leads the reader to believe a version of events of his life that is shown to be increasingly at odds with reality.

Zeno Cosini, the narrator of Italo Svevo‘s Zeno’s Conscience, is a typical example of unreliable narrator: in fact the novel is presented as a diary of Zeno himself, who unintentionally distorts the facts to justify his faults. His psychiatrist, who publishes the diary, claims in the introduction that it’s a mix of truths and lies.

In Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s Batman: The Killing Jokethe Joker, who is the anti-hero of the story, reflects on the pitiful life that transformed him into a psychotic murderer. Although the Joker’s version of the story is not implausible given overall Joker storyline in the Batman comics, the Joker admits at the end of The Killing Joke that he himself is uncertain if it is true.

Between his first appearance in 2008 and 2010, the human identity of Red Hulk, a tactically intelligent version of the Hulk, was a source of mystery. In the 2010 book Fall of the Hulks: Gamma, Red Hulk is depicted in flashback to have killed General Thunderbolt Ross at the behest of Bruce Banner (the Hulk’s human identity), with whom he has formed an alliance. However, in the 2010 “World War Hulks” storyline that flashback is revealed to have been false when, during a battle with Red She-Hulk, the Red Hulk reverts to human form, and is revealed to be General Thunderbolt Ross himself.

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