Who is my narrator?
So I’ve got some mysterious smoking guy outside my narrator’s building. Something about him interests my narrator. What is it? But perhaps before I figure that out, why would anything interest my narrator? What makes something interesting or curious for them? My narrator can’t just be nobody. They can’t just actually be a camera. They have to have some perspective.
What do you look like, narrator? I think you’re probably smaller than both the smoking guy and his girlfriend. You can be invisible in a room. You wear unassuming stuff, and your disappear a bit behind your crossbody bag. You’re a viewer, and you feel a little guilty about it. You could be a voyeur if you put your back into it, but you know that’s probably not the most virtuous way to spend your time.
I think the narrator is non-binary. The reader will hear “I” more often than not in referring to the narrator. Most characters won’t really be talking about them, but when they do, it’ll be with him, her, and them. I hope that isn’t concerning, but I don’t think it will be. I try to pick my character genders carefully. I’ve been allergic to thinking that the “default” should be male, and that the “default” love interest should be female. I’ve explored gay characters, but I haven’t had a non-binary character in my work yet.
And, sure, this is partly because I’m seeing myself as more non-binary lately. I see the option as more viable to write about. But I also find being non-binary not terribly interesting in and of itself. It answered a question for me about categorization, but that’s about it. And because I want my narrator to be the least interesting character, lets give them some less interesting traits.
I also have a theory that a nonbinary narrator might be helpful for anyone reading to feel attached to that perspective. A strictly male or female perspective may temper things differently for different readers. But that’s not one I’ve explored too much, and I might be wrong.
Their hair is shaved. They wear loose clothes for their frame, usually in an earthy colour scheme. They wear boots with a small heel. They usually wear long skirts and tshirts one size too big. They wear a Fitbit. Fitbits are the boring choice, right? Everyone has one.
If they’re to be a window into this story, I want them mostly harmless. Perhaps curiosity is their vice. Maybe they’re a researcher. Maybe that’s their job. Maybe this isn’t the first time they’ve stuck their nose where it doesn’t belong. Let’s say they work for some politically-neutral think tank and spend most days paraphrasing and citing arguments. It’s maybe a bit colourless as a gig but there’s something to why the narrator would have “curiosity” as a primary character trait.
Let’s say they’ve moved away from home recently. Maybe a year. They haven’t met too many real friends in the new city. They’ve got friends online but their meatspace is mostly travelling to work and back, and sometimes attending the odd meetup. They have free time. I think that’s probably important for someone who’s about to get swept up in something. You can’t be too busy and still get distracted by strangers. They’re about to go on an adventure. Maybe they just got dumped and they’re open to something fresh?